The Lookout – SXSW Premiere

My first movie premiere and my first trip to SXSW all in one. Quite exciting.

The first thing I noticed with the kickoff film of SXSW was the line. By the time the movie started I think it covered 3 of the 4 blocks around the building, broken into groups of badge holders, pass holders and ticket buyers.

Also present along the red carpet were a few bits of media and of course people dressed as Superman and the Hulk. They were of course promoting another movie, but still, an odd thing to see at this premiere in such a prominent spot.

Starting about 10-15 minutes late Scott Frank the writer/directer of the movie came on stage to speak for a few minutes and introduce a few members off the cast such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt of ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ fame and Isla Fisher, significant other of Borat and from the film ‘Wedding Crashers’.

From IMDB…

Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank, where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.

Scott Frank has written quite a few enjoyable if not great movies over the past 15 years which include ‘The Interpreter’, ‘Minority Report’, ‘Out of Sight’ and ‘Dead Again’.

The difference between this movie, his directorial debut, and his previously written films seem to be the ability to get an A list cast attached. The acting in this film was great, but I don’t for see this movie being as bankable as others he has worked on, just by virtue of having a cast of mostly unknowns. With the exception, of course, of Jeff Daniels, who manages to steal every scene he is in as the blind, almost mentor-like roommate of the lead Gordon-Hewitt.

As an exploration of a person dealing with a life altering disability, I think the film works beautifully, and I wish that it was explored a little more.

As a crime-thriller it needed a little bit of work to me. While it may not be the right word, it had an almost ponderous build up to the crime and an all to quick resolution after the fact.

While playing her role nicely, Isla Fisher was almost unnecessary to the film, except as a means to lure Gordon-Hewitt into the crime and then disappear. And her sudden odd departure from the movie seemed to have a lot of heads scratching in the theater.

Scott Frank has proven time and time again that he can write a strong screenplay, but I guess I wish that he got the chance to open SXSW ‘95 with ‘Get Shorty’ instead of this year with ‘The Lookout’.

A good movie, maybe not a festival opener though.

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Obviously, based on the line spilling around the block and the number of seats being held in reserve this movie is popular here at SXSW. The stars of the movie are here and the crowd is bustling with excitment.

That very much carried over into the film as well, cheers and yelps from the audience as antics ensued on screen that made this an almost ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ experience.

But was the movie any good. It’s hard to give a movie like this an unqualified thumbs up or down, because there are just people out there who don’t get this kind of humor. It offends them, it’s beneath them, or any other reasons that they will create to keep themselves from an enjoying a very funny movie.

I sorry if it comes off as stupid to that type of person, but Neil Patrick Harris as a bad-ass is very funny, and will always be funny.

The storyline as you can garner from the ppreview, picks up hours after the first film ends and finds the main characters preparing to leave for Amsterdam. Hilarity ensues.

You can expect the same drug humor, racist humor and political commentary found in the first movie and it all works just as well here. Yes, just as much nudity, maybe even more. And I believe just about everyone from the first movie makes an appeparance in this one, with a couple new faces added into the mix.

I think this movie hits the theaters at the end of April and with the popularity the first one had on DVD this one should be quite well recieved. It’s good fun.

Humboldt County – SXSW Premiere

To be honest, up until an hour before I saw this movie, I had assumed we were going to see a documentary about pot growers – and was not looking forward to it.

But that is not what this movie was at all. It was actually a movie with real, honest to goodness actors, and a pretty compelling story to go with it.

After seeing his potential medical future go down the drain, Peter involves himself with a woman and takes a trip to her home with her, where she quickly abandons him. And he must find his way back home by himself – but does he even want to go back?

The meat of the movie strikes me as being about running away. Running away from society, your responsibilities, even your parents. Running away so much some times that you are inevitably running back towards what your parents were themselves running from.

For most people they will see the movie poster or see some promotional material and think oh, that’s just a drug movie. But it’s not. It’s much more.

This is very much a character driven movie, that some people don’t have the patience to sit through anymore. But it’s nice to see a film were you can actually see a character grow and change throughout a movie. Where they can actually learn something about themselves and you can see it unfold with them and for them.

It’s sad that studios don’t see an audience for these kinds of movies in the theaters. In cases like this, they are usually worth seeing.

Then She Found Me – SXSW Premiere

It is funny, that you can have a movie with an Oscar winner and so many well known actors and come out thinking that you just watched such a small movie. That’s a testament to either how hard someone worked on the film to give it that feel, or how hard it was to actually get the movie made.

After listening to Helen Hunt talk about making the movie, you definitely get the feeling it was both.

‘Then She Found Me’ is a small movie about a near baby crazy school teacher (Helen Hunt) who, after being left by her husband (Matthew Broderick) and losing her adoptive mother, is approached by her birth mother (Bette Midler) to re-enter her life while at the same time falling for the father (Colin Firth) of one of her students.

It’s interesting that this movie is able to keep its sweetness about it with all of the drama that seems to follow Helen Hunt’s character. From Helen Hunt’s mouth she says that this is a movie about betrayal and she couldn’t be more right.

From the infidelities, to the lies and anger, no one character can stand apart in this movie and feel like they have always done the right thing. Until the very end when it seems like Hunt’s character realizes how long she has been betraying herself.

The performance in this movie are top notch, especially Colin Firth, who brings a lot of emotion into this role as a single parent of two children and manages to bring an equal balance of both humor and anger to the part.

The movie is both sad and funny, much like real life, and deserves an audience. With the way that most movies are marketed and shown now-a-days, I worry that this is the type of movie that will be ignored for lack of marketing, but it truly is a movie that should be seen and enjoyed.