takes over SXSW 2017!

Austin, Texas- It's impossible not to be over the moon at how good the SXSW Film Festival was for this year. It started with being on the red carpet for a sneak peak of Alien:Covenant and interviewing my hero- Ridley Scott. At that moment I could have stopped and been more than happy with what we accomplished. Then we interviewed Michael Fassbender, Danny McBride, Judd Apatow, Melissa Leo, Josh Lucas, and Maika Monroe. Not to mention 1-on-1 interviews with John Carroll Lynch, Jack Roth & Joe Martin, Leah McKendrick, and Mark Webber. On top of all of that, we also saw a lot of good movies. Here are's Best of the Fest of what we saw at SXSW:


RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

You won't find a more entertaining film than Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. It is being called a combination of La La Land with a heist film, but it's actually something entirely unique from that. Ansel Elgort delivers a career boosting performance as Baby, an orphan that really knows how to drive a car. He's made a career in being the getaway driver for a collection of bank robbers, lead by Kevin Spacey's Doc. His trick is that he get's his groove by constantly listening to music in his headphones and Edgar Wright does a fascinating job of combining the action with the beats of the music. It's one of those movies that is enjoyed more with the less you know. I loved this movie.

RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

What makes a movie great is honesty. That is what Flesh and Blood is all about. It's one of the most honest films I have ever seen, with director Mark Webber taking his narrative back to his hometown of Philadelphia, to show the impoverished part of town. He has his actual mother Cheri Honkula and brother Guillermo Santos as part of the film, where they tell their life stories on camera. This film is a view into the lives of people who struggle with addiction and living in the rougher neighborhoods of the United States.  

RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)

I thought there would be a lot of talk about politics at SXSW, but I didn't think the most poingant film would be Joe Martin's first feature- Us and Them. It has a stellar lead performance, the second best of SXSW, from Jack Roth, who controls the action with his fed up, blue collar, character portrayal. The films social narrative, of a working class man fed up with being failed by the system, and taking matters into his own hands, will have the divided audiences talking about it long after they leave the theater.   

RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)

The path to appreciate the work of director Joe Swanberg has been a complicated one. I was, in many ways, not a fan of his style. I have found the concept of mumblecore to be aimless filmmaking and Swanberg's lack of scripts would tend to be his films downfall. That is, until I enjoyed his last film Digging for Fire and now, with a new deal from Netflix, his recent effort- Win It All, is his best to date. Shot in Chicago and co-written with Jake Johnson again, who also gives a strong lead performance, has allowed Swanberg to flourish in his own way. He clearly has a well written script, about a gambling addict named Eddie (Johnson) who agrees to watch a bag of money from his friend who's going to prison. It's not safe to leave this kind of cash with Eddie, but the movie is equally fun and frustrating, seeing the kind of trouble he gets himself into.  

RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)

Of all the movies at SXSW that impressed me, M.F.A. was the one I did not see coming. Director Natalia Leite and writer Leah McKendrick have made a revenge film that will make audiences wake up. Francesca Eastwood (yes, daughter of Clint) stars as a women who is raped and gets back at those who have gotten away with their horrific actions. The subject of college campus sexual assaults is still something that must be talked about and that's why this movie is one of the best of the fest.  

RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

Ben Wheatley showed signs that he was a director that I would become a fan of with the film High Rise. Although I was negative on that film, it revealed that Wheatley is a director that knows how to construct things, such as setting and working with a spectacular cast. Now, he has Free Fire, which is by far Wheatley's best yet and his simplest. He takes a group of 10 people attempting to make a deal for guns, puts them in a room, and let's them all shoot at each other. It sounds simple and to some maybe even stupid, yet it all works. It's choreographed action with a fantastic performance from Sharlto Copley.​

SXSW 2017 Highlights

DIRECTED BY: Brett Haley
RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

The second film that is about a man who is looking at the back 9 of life, is Brett Haley's new film- The Hero. Sam Elliott stars as Lee Hayden, a movie star made famous for his western's and specifically his most memorable character known as The Hero. He finds out that he is sick and after finding this out, he tries his best to capture a spark of life, and reconcile with his estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter). It's the first SXSW movie to make me cry. It's a very emotional and beautiful film. Sam Elliott is worthy of an Oscar if you ask me. 

RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)

The movie that I talked about for hours with fellow critics and people in line was The Disaster Artist. If you have not seen the cult classic The Room, it is important that you do, before seeing James Franco's The Disaster Artist. It is a behind the scenes take on the journey that lead actor Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero went on before their god-awful film became the legend that it is. Franco delivers an impeccable performance that will make you laugh so hard that you fall out of your chair. It's unforgettable.   

RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)

There were two films at SXSW this year that struck a chord with me about getting older in life. The first one is John Carroll Lynch's directorial debut- Lucky. It's a beautiful portrait about a man with the same name as the title, who lives in a small Arizona town and spends his days relating to the friends he sees at the bar. Many of the actors- Beth Grant, Tom Skerrit, David Lynch- have something to do with the career of Harry Dean Stanton. It all makes for a beautifully poetic film, about love, lonliness, happiness, and life. I cried and want Harry Dean Stanton to be given a Spirit award for this.  

Other films I enjoyed: Atomic Blonde; Small Town Crime; Hot Summer Nights; Madre; Mr. Roosevelt, and The Big Sick

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