The South By Southwest Film Festival is the perfect venue for smaller studios to showcase some of their spring and summer features for eager audiences hoping to catch the next sleeper hit. Discovering an indie sleeper is a coveted spot for Cinephiles (if not over-rated). A few movies that screened at SXSW were launched to generate buzz from a small to medium size established studio. Here were a few:
Miserable musicians play eccentric tunes with a very bizarre front man with oddball behavior. This quirky, meta-comedy is based on British comedian Chris Sievey’s iconic character. Numerous uncomfortable laughs could strike a nerve with a niche hipster set. Indie summer sleeper or cult status potential could happen in the States when it likely opens in the Summer.
You’re Next filmmakers deploy military mystery man with a small town family in an intense, campy thriller. The slow boil tension simmers as all is not what it seems. (For You’re Next fans, there’s even a wolf mask cameo at a party). I loved the 1980’s infused 3rd Act which blends various genres and winks at a few movies. (To avoid spoilers, I will not mention which movies but SXSW attenders told me John Carpenter was.) The Guest is slated to open in the fall.
JIMI: ALL BY MY SIDE
Unfortunately, Jimi left more to be desired. I have a so-so attitude on biopics but this featured weaknesses of Biopic Clichés: over-stuffed & unfocused. Andre Benjamin was okay as Jimi Hendrix, nothing too special. Despite John Ridley’s (a recent Oscar winner for Adapted Screenplay for 12 YEARS A SLAVE) best effort and heartfelt Q&A, it was a disappointing follow up to his work in a Best Picture winner. Not a bad movie at all, but not very good. Opening in June.
A Night In Old Mexico
Sincerely executed, it stars a great Robert Duvall who loses his ranch but meets his unexpected estranged grandson. This old fashioned journey to unfamiliar lands turns into an accidental adventure when the two of them visit Mexico. It wasn’t the best thing I saw at SXSW and didn’t fit the hipster crowd at the festival. However, it is impossible to say a negative thing about it. A Night In Old Mexico has exciting moments and important life lessons. Opening in May.
Ping Pong Summer
Maybe my favorite movie during my entire time at SXSW. This fun loving, sincerely enjoyable, coming-of-age 80’s throwback featuring gaudy fashion, slushies, & boombox hip hop was adored by the audience. I was swept away by it all! The plot focuses on two misfits playing ping pong while on family vacation in Ocean City. Movie fans, mark your calendars for June 6th when Ping Pong Summer plans to be in theaters and VOD!
SPACE STATION 76
Though it was purchased by Sony before the SXSW Film Festival, Space Station 76 was a perfect place for a World Premiere. A pleasant discovery aboard this 1970’s version of the future. The over-the-top, dark humor orbits laughs with an all star B movie cast. This is poised to incorrectly be marketed as the next SPACEBALLS when it supposedly opens this summer.