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.