Today was the random one you get at every festival. You just don't know what you're going to see. Some early screenings on Friday suddenly left me with only one thought - get MacGruber.
I went to the Fast Pass express lane at 8:45 a.m. to wait in line, so I could then wait in a shorter line. It opened at 10 and I was able to get my pass no problem.
Then it was off to see Audrey the Trainwreck. Synopsis For Ron Hogan, life is fine... not great, not good, just... fine, and on the verge of retiring any sort of dream heÕs harbored of a life less ordinary. Pushing thirty and working a thankless office job, internet dating is one more routine in Ron Hogan's well-ordered life. God knows his lonely roommate and lonelier co-workers have tried, but not even a dart to the back of the head can shake him out of his funk. Until he meets Stacy, a fellow working stiff who disarms him by speaking the language of his loneliest moments. Featuring a score by acclaimed jazz composer John Medeski, Audrey the Trainwreck is Frank V. Ross's 5th feature film, an exploration of what might happen if one man's silent desperation got a little bit louder.
Director Bio Frank V. Ross has completed 6 feature films including 'Quietly On By,' 'Hohokam,' and 'Present Company' which premiered at SXSW 2008. Ross films have screened at such venues as the Harvard Film Archive, the Gene Siskel Film center and the the IFC center. He works as a waiter in Westmont, IL. Some of the scenes for Audrey were shot there, for which he paid his boss five hundred dollars.
It's a little slow. There's a couple good ideas here, like an egg in the fridge. It wobbles around and you never know when it's going to drop. Otherwise, it's a little too much like watching someone's mundane life. Plus, they used extreme close-ups throughout the film. That way, you couldn't stop looking at dry skin and zits. Yippee? Not exactly. Oddly enough there was a 3-D short film before it. There was no reason this movie needed to be in 3-D. Ahhh, the future.
One of the best parts of SXSW is the people you will sit next to. Remember Skeletons? I saw it a couple days ago. I sat next to the producer and director during Trainwreck. We had a good chat. It was his first time to the States. So I told him where to go in Austin and Seattle (they'll be going that way for another film festival).
After the wreck, I decided to head to the convention center to check out the documentary Beijing Taxi. Synopsis BEIJING TAXI is a feature length documentary that vividly portrays Beijing undergoing a profound transformational arch. Through a humanistic lens, the intimate lives of three taxi drivers connect a morphing city confronted with modern issues and changing values. With diverse imagery combined with a contemporary score rich in atmosphere, we experience a visceral sense of the common citizens' persistent attempts to grasp the elusive. Candid and perceptive in its filming approach and highly cinematic in style, BEIJING TAXI takes us on a lyrical journey into fragments of a society riding the bumpy roads to modernization. Though the destination is unknown, they continue to forge ahead.
Director Bio Beijing native Miao Wang has a B.A. in economics from the Univ of Chicago and a M.F.A. in design/film from Parsons. Her award-winning documentary YELLOW OX MOUNTAIN has screened at over 20 venues and broadcast on WNET Thirteen. She apprenticed at Maysles Films. Miao has grants from Sundance, NYSCA and Jerome Foundation. She is a fellow of Tribeca All Access, IFP Filmmakers Lab and the IFP Market.
I knew nothing about it. It took place in 2006, two years before the Summer Olympics arrived. It follows three taxi drivers ... oh no, it's mundane. Ouch. Hope this isn't a theme. The documentary puts you on the streets of Beijing, and you hear cab driver's thoughts about becoming a capitalist society. There isn't nearly enough commentary about the society. At one point you spend 10 minutes watching one guy go to a fishing hole, it being too crowded, so he goes to another place, and then catches a fish. So, after one hour and ten minutes, I left. Leaving festival films is much worse than walking out of a regular theater. Why? Because the directors, producers and actors are typically in the theater with you. But, I wanted to make sure to make my next film, and I wanted some caffeine.
American: The Bill Hicks Story
Synopsis Much more than a comedian, Bill Hicks was and still is an inspiration to millions. His timeless comedy tackled the contradictions of America and modern life head on, as he skewered organized religion, railed against the hypocrisies of his government and exposed the collusion of the mainstream media, earning him censorship in the USA, but whose messages continue to resonate with subsequent generations. He also had some excellent dick jokes. Pushing documentary storytelling in a new direction, 'AMERICAN" uses a stunning new animation technique to bring the tale of one of modern culture's most iconic heroes to the big screen.
Director Bio Matt Harlock is a director whose films have been screened widely at festivals and on television. Paul Thomas has worked in-house at the BBC and created innovative formats for several leading UK production co's. Together as producer/directors, they conducted over 120 hours of new in-depth interviews and have spent the last 3 years making AMERICAN The Bill Hicks Story.
Eric Snider talked me into this one. It's a good thing he did. I knew very little of Hicks, except for his mother recently appearing on Letterman's "Late Show." While I wouldn't put him at the top of my list for comedians, he's funny and the documentary is great. It's an advanced style of Ken Burns moving photographs. Harlock makes this documentary come to life with still pictures. Plus there's some good old video here.
After Hicks, I took a break to hang out with a friend, eat some tacos at Torchy's and drink some beer. Good times. I think Torchy's has now taken over my top spot for a good, cheap taco. The original leader was El Chilito. Sorry El, it was a good run.
Then, it was time to get MacGrubered. How could they possibly make a three-minute sketch into a film? Kill MacGruber 30 times?
Synopsis Only one American hero has earned the rank of Green Beret, Navy SEAL and Army Ranger. Just one operative has been awarded 16 purple hearts, 3 Congressional Medals of Honor and 7 presidential medals of bravery. And only one guy is man enough to still sport a mullet. In 2010, Will Forte brings Saturday Night Live's clueless soldier of fortune to the big screen in the action comedy MacGruber.
Director Bio JORMA TACCONE is a writer/director/composer for Saturday Night Live. Along with his friends Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, collectively known as 'The Lonely Island,' he is responsible for creating the popular SNL Digital Shorts, such as the Emmy-winning 'D**k In A Box' and Grammy-nominated 'Im On A Boat.' Taccone also played Kevin in Paramount's Hot Rod. MacGruber is his directorial debut.
Wow. Third-funniest SNL movie of all-time. I wasn't expecting much, and kept being surprised by how much I laughed. The sex scene and throats getting ripped were just a few highlights. Wayne's World and Blues Brothers are still on top. Please keep in mind, my thoughts could be tainted. That's right, completely full of taint. Across the isle from me was Val Kilmer. In front of him, Ryan Phillippe. In front of him, Kristen Wiig. Want to see their backs? Look at the picture. You can thank my iPhone for the low quality. And no, I'm not the type to normally take pictures of stars, so I didn't really care to yell for them to look my way.