Welcome to the final days of South by Southwest – at least the final days of the film festival portion. With my trade show duties discharged I'm taking a few days to catch up on just watching movies. Roundabout Wednesday SxSW (or "Southby" as it's referred to when speaking) takes on a different flavor as the Interactive panels and trade show end, the film festival enters the round of second screenings, and the music festival begins. As my friend Lize pointed out, the cooler-looking web nerds and film geeks begin to look decidedly less cool compared to their counterparts who showed up for the music.
Christina and I went through something of a rite of passage earlier in the week when we were shut out of an advance screening of The Notorious Bettie Page
, which was playing at the 300-something seat Alamo Downtown – a ridiculously small venue for a film that would obviously be popular with Austin's youth (and wanna-be-youth) culture. Fortunately for us, though, many of the badge holders now either have gone back home or moved on to the musical venues, so the movies are a lot easier to attend.
Yesterday I made it to Summercamp
, Jumping Off Bridges
, and Brothers of the Head
. Documentary Summercamp
(probably the lowliest of the three, at least in terms of budget) was by far the most enjoyable. As so often happens in film festival situations, the movies that I attend just to fill time between screenings I actually intend to watch are turning out to be the best so far. That was certainly the case (so far) today, as 51 Birch Street
– another doc – was the standout of the day, touching me far more than either Even Money
(with terrific performances from both Kim Basinger and Danny Devito) or Los Lonely Boys: Cottonfields and Crossroads
. No offense to Los Lonely Boys and their fans (I am one), but it's a little early in this band's career to be making a documentary, at least if you want it to feel like more than a work in progress. Still, the crowd enjoyed it and you can't deny the stage presence of the Boys, especially when they're standing ten feet in front of you at the premiere of their collective life story. One certainly can't blame SxSW, given its history, for playing a documentary about local boys made good in the music business.
There are still a couple of screenings left for the evening: Darkon
, a documentary about a live-action role playing (LARP) group in the Washington D.C. area, and a midnight screening of the new horror flick Slither
. Hopefully I'll make it into that one, as it's back at the Alamo Downtown and likely to be popular with the cult film crowd, who are probably starved for material in the otherwise mainstream-ish programming of South by Southwest's film festival.
Watch for lengthier reviews of all of these films in coming days, once the screenings are over and I catch up on all the work I missed.