SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | March 16, 2010
You know what really pisses me off? (Other than – to quote the Dead Milkmen – “the god damn periodic table of the elements…”). Line-cutters! Line-cutters this year, especially at the Alamo Ritz, are really pissing me off. Now I understand the occasional one person meeting up with a friend in line, so I’m not too upset about that; but at the TINY FURNITURE screening I was counted as 80th in line about an hour before the screening. Before long I was right around the 100 mark, then 120, then somehow I would up somewhere around 150th (since that count didn’t include guest list or SXXpress passes, I didn’t get in). Considering that I did not move from my place in line, that means that the line in front of me almost doubled with line-cutters. I don’t want to pull the “press” card here, but I am trying to do my job here. I’m trying to see as many films as I can so that I can tell you all about them – and hopefully help the films get some much needed attention. (In the case of TINY FURNITURE, the publicist was kind enough to promise me a DVD screener and I am very grateful for that.) In some cases, the films are showing again – however, my viewing and interviewing schedule is so booked, that I would have to cancel something in order to try again.
Anyway…let’s get onto the business at hand. What did I do and what did I see on Day 4 of SXSW?
Well, it was a tired and hazy kind of day for me. The late night on Sunday really got me dragging…but it was worth it! I started off with Lovers of Hate – which had a lot of buzz from its premiere at Sundance, its distribution deal with IFC, as well as the local boy (writer-director Bryan Poyser) done good buzz around Austin. I will start off by saying that it deserves every little bit of the buzz that it has gotten. Lovers of Hate is a beautifully written and acted film about two brothers (played by Chris Doubek and Alex Karpovsky) who do not get along very well. Besides their age difference, their divide seems to be rooted in the fact that the older brother is by some definitions a failure and the younger brother is a very successful author of children’s fantasy novels. And then there is the woman (Heather Kafka) who comes between them. The film, especially the plot, is relatively simple – yet Poyser’s direction is relatively unconventional, especially his honest and open portrayal of nudity and sex – Poyser seems to have found a kinship with Joe Swanberg here. I am pretty excited to write my review of this one and I still need to work on scheduling an interview with Poyser.
Next up was writer-director Paul Gordon’s (another local boy done good) The Happy Poet. Dave had already promised me that I would like this one – and I knew enough about Paul Gordon to suspect that Dave’s promise would be good – and he was not wrong. In fact, I think The Happy Poet is currently enjoying its position as my favorite film of SXSW 2010 (though Cyrus, Putty Hill and Lovers of Hate are not far behind). I think part of the reason that I enjoyed The Happy Poet so much was because I actually related to the lead character, Bill (Paul Gordon), and that character was so perfectly written for Gordon by Gordon. The Happy Poet is a perfect example of a writer and director knowing their own strengths and range as an actor. It was also quite funny to see Chris Doubek in two back-to-back (and quite opposite) performances – as psycho jealous brother and goofy hippie slacker. I’ll be interviewing Paul Gordon and some of the cast on Tuesday, so you’ll be seeing that posted on Smells Like Screen Spirit very soon.
My day concluded (somewhat early for once) with Dance with the One which was made by the UT Film Institute (so, yes, this was an Austin kind of day). To be honest, I’m still digesting this one. I really wanted to like it, but my gut response was that it was a bit too formulaic and some of the performances felt a bit too stilted and fake (I think the content would have benefited from much more naturalistic direction). However Gabriel Luna was great as Nate and Xochitl Romero was perfect as Nicki.