By Josh Tarpley
The South By Southwest Festival has always been a good venue to debut energetic films to an even more energetic audiences. Past years have seen the premieres of “Keanu,” “Furious 7,” and even an early cut of “Sausage Party,” all met to wild enthusiasm amongst the festival goers. This year is no different, whether it be hyperkinetic action films ("Baby Driver," "Atomic Blonde"), experimental love stories ("Song to Song") or a behind-the-scenes look at a doomed movie production ("The Disaster Artist"), this year's festival seems to have something for everybody.
Click beyond the jump to see the first reactions to these SXSW debuts.
In conjunction with the screening, TriStar released the first trailer online (you can view it here) and “Baby Driver” looks like what we have come to expect from Edgar Wright. Whether it be “Hot Fuzz” or “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” Wright has become synonymous with well-staged action and kinetic editing. With “Baby Driver” said to be music-infused bank robbing film, it is safe to say we have something special on our hands. As far as actual reactions go, to put it simply, the film played like gangbusters at SXSW:
Meredith Borders over at Birth.Movies.Death. highlights “Baby Driver’s” musical foundation,
“This is a movie that moves. Being an Edgar Wright picture, it won’t be news to you that the soundtrack’s masterful, but Baby Driver is its own music, every beat and moment and movement playing off one another in perfect choreography. The audience can’t help but move, either. The film’s so rhythmic, so kinetic, that it pulls you into its cadence, bringing you into Baby’s world as surely as if you were sharing headphones.”
All and all, it sounds as if “Baby Driver” is Edgar Wright doing Edgar Wright at full speed. Depending on your reception to his other films this is either the best news in the world or this may be something you catch on home video at a later time. I for one could not be more excited. Though “The World’s End” wasn’t what I hoped it would be, with “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” Wright is one of the best filmmakers working today.
If the film is as good as early reviews indicate, expect to see me championing the film for a Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) nomination for this year’s Golden Globes (one can dream!).
“Baby Driver” is set to hit theaters on August 11.
"The Disaster Artist"
“The Disaster Artist” will tell the story of how the so-bad-it's-good “The Room” came to be. In addition to directing the film, James Franco will star as Tommy Wiseau, the writer/director/producer/star of the now infamous cult hit. Franco must have pulled all his favors, as the cast for “The Disaster Artist” is packed with incredibly talented people. The Franco brothers (James and Dave) will be at the center of the story, but “The Disaster Artist” will also feature Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Jacki Weaver, Hannibul Buress, Paul Scheer, Sharon Stone, Alison Brie, with cameos by Bryan Cranston, Kate Upton, Judd Apatow and many more.
Film School Rejects’ Fernando Andrés writes that while the film has its problems, Franco’s performance is the best part.
“The Disaster Artist is about many things, from filmmaking to the nature of fame, but it is mostly about the strange (terrifying?) friendship between Tommy and Greg (Dave Franco). We first meet them in an effective, oddly touching sequence in which Greg is struggling to deliver an emotional performance in his acting class. Upon sitting down, he (and the rest of his class) witness an outrageous follow-up performance from Tommy, whose jet black hair and Grim Reaper-esque getup immediately shroud him in an aura of mystery. He screams “Stella” and climbs up the rafters, falling to the ground and crying out through his thick, forever ambiguous accent. A bold introduction for James’ portrayal of this most strange man, but the gamble pays off: Franco’s pained, oblivious and lonely Wiseau is indeed the only element of the film that truly works.”
"The Disaster Artist" should hit theaters sometime in 2017.
"Song to Song"
If there is one word that comes with a new Terrence Mallick film, it would be “divisive.” Whether it be the Best Picture nominated “Tree of Life” or last year’s “Knight of Cups,” Mallick makes the film he wants to make, and audiences are forced to reckon with the experience they have been given. Enter “Song to Song.” Early social media reactions proved that you either hated “Song to Song” or you loved it.
Josh Kurp’s review for Uproxx says as much,
“There are two things to expect from a Malick movie, good or bad: 1) it will look stunning, and 2) there won’t be a coherent narrative. Fittingly, Song to Song looks stunning. Emmanuel Lubezki’s radiant cinematography captures buildings that I’ve seen a million times in new ways; even the grackles, the loud trash-bird of Texas, look gorgeous. And there isn’t a coherent narrative. The loose premise is that Faye (Mara) is an aspiring singer-songwriter who gets trapped in a love triangle with handsome producer Cook (Fassbender) and handsome musician BV (Gosling); much admiring of her midriff ensues. Waitress Rhonda (Portman) enters the movie about halfway through, unlike Christian Bale, Haley Bennett, and Benicio Del Toro, all of whom shot scenes for the film that ended up not making the final cut.”
Divisive or not, the film will start its theatrical run this Friday, March 17.
A quintessential SXSW film, “Atomic Blonde” marks the first solo directorial effort from “John Wick” co-director David Leitch. The film features Charlize Theron continuing her dominance as our top female action heroine (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Fate of the Furious”). You can hear our thoughts on the trailer by listening to the latest Next Best Picture podcast. It sounds as though the film is exactly what we would come to expect from the John Wick + Charlize Theron combination.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn explains how the film’s incredible action serves as a way to compensate for a weaker story,
“Every battle has its own set of punchlines, and they’re usually punctuated by a gruesome gag or three, from Lorraine jamming a keychain into one attacker’s cheek to another villain hopeless attempting to yank a knife from his back. These scenes combine first-rate physical comedy and virtuoso filmmaking in one package, and there’s just enough of them to keep “Atomic Blonde” from sagging too deeply into its dreary exposition before bouncing back.”
"Atomic Blonde" will hit the big screen on July 28.
What do you all think? Are some of these positive reviews simply the result of festival hype, or are these the real deal? Is there a particular SXSW movie that you are excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @JoshTarpley7
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