This year at the South By Southwest film festival they screened over 130 movies of all genres from all over the world. No one is able to watch all of them, but I saw a good portion. This year’s selection was very strong, and overall I liked more movies than last year. I previously reviewed my personal festival favorites, but of course there are plenty of others. See what’s worth watching, or what to stay away from.
A Prayer Before Dawn (9/10)
Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, written by Jonathn Hirschbein, Nick Saltrese, with Joe Cole
Based on the international best seller, “A Prayer before Dawn” is the true story of Billy Moore. A troubled young British boxer sent to one of Thailand’s most notorious jails has to fight for his survival.
Filmed in a shut-down prison in Thailand, with former inmates as supporting actors, this movie literally bleeds authenticity.
It is a nightmarish, hypnotic, ultra-violent and realistic mix of a boxing film and a prison drama. Joe Cole delivered one of the best acting performances I’ve seen during the festival.
If you don’t mind the violence, don’t miss out on this excellent thriller.
All Square (7/10)
Directed by John Hyams, written by Timothy Brady, with Michael Kelly, Josh Lucas, Pamela Adlon, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Yeardley Smith, Harris Yulin
A down-on-his-luck bookie befriends and ex-girlfriend’s son gets the bright idea to take bets on local youth league baseball games. They soon realize he’s killed what’s pure about the sport, as the games turn ugly when money is on the line.
This original story populated with believable characters is heartwarming, but maybe not a family movie due to some violence and lots of swearing.
Michael Kelly leads a good cast with a natural performance, and the screenplay offers some nice twists to the story. “All Square” is a good indie movie that doesn’t rely on a standard formula to tell a relatable and for the most part, heartwarming story.
In this film, “The Sandlot” meets “The Color of Money.”
Written and directed by David Zellner & Nathan Zellner, with Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Forster
An affluent pioneer ventures deep into the wilderness of the American West to join his fiancée. But, what he doesn’t realize is that when he find he, he’s in for a huge surprise.
I went into this movie expecting a drama, but it turned out to be a silly western-comedy.
One scene that made me laugh and one that made me smile, but these were not enough to save the movie. I can only recommend this if you think Adam Sandler or the Wayans family are funny.
Most likely to Murder (7/10)
Directed by Dan Gregor, writtenby Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, with Adam Pally, Rachel Bloom, Vincent Kartheiser, John Reynolds, Hasan Minhaj
Billy, the coolest kid in high school, comes back to his hometown 15 years later. He returns only to find out he’s no longer cool, and the girl he still has feelings for now dates the former town outcast. All of this results in Billy’s obsession with proving the outcast is a murderer to win back his old flame.
This stoner-comedy is proof that silly doesn’t necessarily mean stupid (looking at you, “Damsel” & “The Breaker-Upperers”). Watching the protagonist and his best friend stumble into fail after fail, this movie never loses the feeling for the characters, and a twist in the end offers a surprisingly deep understanding of the dynamic of friend- and relationships.
While certainly not perfect, this was one of the better comedies at this year’s film festival.