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South by Southwest, Plus-Sized Actresses and Millions of Children Mourn a Big Star

'The People vs. George Lucas'

‘The People vs. George Lucas’

1. The film festival at South by Southwest just wrapped, but not without a ton of coverage on the web. Twitch and The House Next Door have done a bang-up job with their write-ups; at the latter site, Elise Nakhnikian singles out The People Vs. George Lucas as one of the best documentaries of the festival, probing how his gazillion dollar blockbusters sparked participatory pop culture decades before internet mashups turned it into child’s play. “Is Lucas, our canary in the mine for this new way of making and marketing movies, a fat-cat master exploiter, a great artist martyred by a venal culture, a geeky child hiding from a world that doesn’t understand him, or all of the above?”

Also check out David Hudson on Aaron Katz’s Cold Weather, which he dubs “the first breakout hit of SXSW 2010.”

2. At the A/V Club, Scott Tobias waxes awesome poetic on David Mamet’s movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross:

The genius of Mamet’s play is that it’s about honor without honor. It follows beleaguered salesmen who by trade have to manipulate people and lie to them in order to get through the day. And it’s a credit to Mamet that they have our sympathy from the start, so much so that we’re rooting for them to pull one over on their innocent clients just to get their names on the sales board. In fact, I’m guessing it may not be until the play or movie is over that viewers become conscious of how much time their heroes spend lying in the name of business. That’s because we know the rules of capitalism, too: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. Whatever small measure of honor can be extracted from this life—and the men in Glengarry Glen Ross do have codes, and are essentially decent, thieves though they may be—is precious but transcendent, because it’s all that separates them from the executive despots and their sadistic sales contests.

3. Following the Oscars, Howard Stern paid Precious star Gabourey Sibide a backhanded comment that she should have won the Best Actress Oscar “because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?” At IFC’s Indie Eye Blog, Vadim Rizov sets to prove Howard wrong with Seven Plus Sized Actresses who managed steady careers in show biz.

4. On a semi-personal note, Ghost Town, one of the films that I distribute through my label dGenerate Films has been getting great reviews during its weeklong run at MoMA in New York. A.O. Scott of the New York Times calls it “A miniature epic of the everyday.” Read more raves.

5. Finally, not movie-related but very sad all the same. Per Paul Westerberg’s song, I was one of those millions who sang for Alex Chilton, and now he’s gone. CNN has a surprisingly good obituary detailing why Chilton was one of the all-time greats of rock. But let’s let the man sing for himself – here he is on Leno back in the 90s, a few years before this song became the theme song on That 70s Show:

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  • dan says:

    I saw several features that I liked at SXSW. They were:

    Dirty Pictures
    DIRTY PICTURES is a documentary about Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the rogue chemist who discovered the effects of MDMA (aka Ecstasy) and over 200 other mind-altering drugs. Shulgin’s alchemy has earned him the title “The Godfather of Psychedelics,” and a reputation as one of the great chemists of the 20th century.

    Working from a lab in his home, and using himself and his wife Ann as test subjects, Shulgin’s discoveries have brought him into conflict with the law but made him a worldwide underground hero. The two books they co-authored, “Pihkal” and “Tihkal”, have built a foundation for cutting-edge neuroscience and medical research. DIRTY PICTURES examines the impact of Dr. Shulgin’s lifelong quest to unlock the complexities of the human mind.

    What will become of America in five, 25, or even 50 years from today? FUTURESTATES is a series of 11 fictional mini-features exploring possible future scenarios through the lens of today’s global realities. Immerse yourself in the visions of these independent prognosticators as they project a future of their own imagining.

    6 of them were featured in at SXSW

    Helena From the Wedding
    HELENA FROM THE WEDDING is the debut feature film from writer/director Joseph Infantolino. Shot mostly in sequence in and around a small cabin in upstate New York, this nuanced and often funny portrait of marriage and anxiety in the late blooming professional class revolves around one dark night of the soul of Alex Javal (Lee Tergesen), who is feeling so out of sorts that he fails to appreciate his new wife, Alice (Melanie Lynskey), and the new life she represents and enables. The story takes place over the course of a weekend long New Year’s Eve party that the Javals host for their closest friends and one unexpected guest, the very beautiful and very young Helena (Gillian Jacobs).

    That was playing with a delightful short:
    Always A Bride

    My favorite of all the films I saw was:
    Crying with Laughter
    Things are looking good for stand-up comedian Joey (Stephen McCole) – his foul-mouthed act has drawn interest from people in high places. Then he tells one little gag about an old school pal, who just happens to be in the audience, and things begin to unravel – suddenly Frank (Malcolm Shields) is everywhere Joey goes, wanting to talk about the old days… A bold low-budget thriller from Scotland, with a powerhouse performance by McCole (Rushmore, Stone of Destiny).

  • alsolikelife says:

    Thanks for the report from the field, Dan. Doing a bit of online research, I found a rave review each for both Helena from the Wedding and Crying with Laughter.

    Helena: http://truthoncinema.com/review/sxsw-2010-review-helena-from-the-wedding/
    “There aren’t many films that can grasp the reality of marriage. Either directors make it too fairy tale or they present it as some “tradition” that is “meant to be broken” by divorce and that all couple’s will end up there. For some reason, they can’t write a realistic marriage. Although Infantolino didn’t set out to make the most realistic marriage film he could, I do applaud his efforts in maintaining authenticity in the awkwardness. I think awkwardness is hard to do in relationships. You can do extremely joyful, or extremely depressing, but showing the subtleties of tension and a slight feeling of distrust is difficult: and HFTW excelled at that!”

    Crying with Laughter: http://www.killerfilm.com/film_reviews/read/crying-with-laughter-review-sxsw-27937
    “Molotnikov creates a world that never once seems fake. While watching this film I could taste the beer, I laughed at the jokes, felt the cold on my body. His characters are real people. People that we see on a day to day basis, not the super human fashion models seen in cinema today. Joey’s comedy is extremely confrontational, sometimes accosting audience members during his act, yet even after this brash behavior I could still empathize with him. These stark realities are what make the film work on a subconscious level, keeping its audience glued to the screen with anticipation of what Joey might say or do next.”

    These sound about right to you?

  • dan says:

    yup. I also have been following up to see if we can get at least Crying with Laughter for the service. I think Helena from the Wedding would be great too.

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