Tag Archives: austin film festival

In Review: Austin Film Fest 2017

November 3, 2017


At this year’s Austin Film Festival I caught six movies.  Below are my thoughts on those movies.  Read on.

Lady Bird

Plot:  Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is about to go to college.  Like everyone at this age, she has a lot of growing up to do.

Review:  Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is one of my favorite releases of 2017.  The film is smart, funny, charming and real, and I just adored every second of it.  Saorise Ronan (as Lady Bird) and Laurie Metcalf (as Marion) turn in stellar, award-worthy performances as a mother daughter duo who just can’t seem to crawl onto the same page about anything.  I hope to see this one again very soon.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Plot:  Feeling as though the police have forgotten about her daughter’s murder case, a woman erects three billboards that sport a controversial message.  This sends her hometown into a tizzy.

Review:  Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) really goes after you with Three Billboards.  Not only is the film very funny at just about every turn, it’s also a heavy drama that will strike out and sting you when you least expect it.  If you ask me, it’s McDonagh’s best movie.

Wild Honey

Plot:  A phone sex operator named Gabby is having a rough time.  She’s lonely, she’s broke, and she’s lives with her mother.  Things start to turn around though when she gets a regular caller who actually seems interested in her.

Review:  This one has a third act that stumbles a bit and overall the film feels just mostly well made, but I liked it.  Rusty Schwimmer does a nice job as the sort of unlikable, sort of endearing Gabby, and overall there are enough funny bits to keep you interested.

Chasing The Blues

Plot:  Two collectors are on the hunt for a rare piece of vinyl that may actually be cursed.

Review:  If it were possible to toss out the predictable ending and a handful of moments where things are slightly too goofy, you’d have a great movie in Chasing The Blues.  As it stands, I think it’s a generally solid little effort.

The Landing

Plot:  Apollo 18 didn’t go well.  This “documentary” takes a look at what happened.

Review:  At first I was all about this film, but then my brain turned on and I realized there was never actually an Apollo 18 and that the documentary was a work of fiction.  This immediately made me lose all interest in it.  Just not my thing.


Plot:  In desperate need of cash, a couple decide to engage in a medical experiment.  Things don’t go as planned.

Review:  Here’s a film that doesn’t quite know how to get out of its own way.  It has ideas flying around all over the place, and while some of them are interesting, a lot of them are total throwaways.  The acting in this one is just so-so as well.

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In Review: Austin Film Festival 2016

October 27, 2016


Hey there!  Down below you’ll find little descriptions of the five films I saw at this year’s Austin Film Festival.  I was hoping to see 10-ish movies, but a busy schedule and other details kept me from that goal.  Oh well.  At least I enjoyed what I saw, yeah?


Plot:  It’s the 50′s.  Mildre Jeter is a black woman, Richard Loving is a white man.  They’re not supposed to be together, but they are.  This film details what eventually led to the Supreme Court’s decision to hold laws that prohibit interracial marriage as unconstitutional.

Mini-Review:  Loving is the latest gem from writer/director Jeff Nichols.  Because of the tale its telling, I figured it would be full of big, sweeping dramatic moments set in a courtroom (or something equally grand), but it’s actually a very sweet and intimate love story.  See it as soon as you can.


Plot:  An unarmed group of men and women attempt to make their way from Mexico to the US.  It goes as planned until someone starts gunning them down.

Mini-Review:  Jonas Cuaron’s Desierto is essentially an R-rated slice of survival horror that’s coated with a political message.  Some of it works, some of it doesn’t.  Overall, I liked it.


Plot:  This film follows Jackie Kennedy during the days after the assassination of JFK.

Mini-Review:  Oh my.  Jackie blew me away.  Natalie Portman is incredible in it (just give her all the awards now), and the way director Pablo Larrain details the post-assassination days and Jackie’s transition from wide-eyed First Lady to battle-scarred woman is masterful.  I can’t wait to see it again.

The Edge of Seventeen

Plot:  Nadine is having a hard time.  Partly because being a teen isn’t easy, mostly because her best (and really, only) friend just started dating her old brother.

Mini-Review: The Edge of Seventeen is the best R-rated coming of age movie I’ve seen since Superbad.  It’s hilarious, sincere and Hailee Steinfeld is perfect in it.  I fully expect it to be a huge hit.

My Scientology Movie

Plot: Louis Theroux sets out to make a film about the Church of Scientology.  Somewhere along the way, the Chuch starts making a film about him.

Mini-Review:  If you saw Going Clear on HBO, then there’s no real reason to watch My Scientology Movie.  Louis Theroux talks to a lot of the same people and he doesn’t really uncover any new info.  With that being said, his doc is funny, and I had pretty good time watching him befuddle members of the Church of Scientology.

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In Review: Austin Film Festival 2014

November 6, 2014


Austin Film Festival has come and gone!  This year I managed to catch eight films, and mini-reviews of each one await you below.  Read on.

The Humbling

The Humbling isn’t a bad movie, but it does play like a way less interesting version of Birdman (both deal with aging actors trying to sort out their lives and careers).  Only seek it out if you’re a diehard fan of Al Pacino.

The Suicide Theory

The Suicide Theory features an interesting concept – a suicidal guy hires someone to kill him but somehow he always survives the attempts on his life – and has some good moments in it, but the last act features a variety of shoehorned twists that just really damage the film overall.


I’ve never been a big fan of Reese Witherspoon, but I can’t deny that she’s pretty fantastic in Wild.  It’s her dedicated performance that keeps director Jean-Marc Vallee’s film from feeling like a wad of Oscar bait.

The Living

Going into The Living I had heard good things, but I just didn’t care much for it.  The film’s two distinct stories are shallow messes, and because of that I often found myself wondering when I might start to care about what was happening on the screen.  It was good to see Fran Kranz (Cabin In The Woods) in something new, though.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is the best film I saw at this year’s Austin Film Festival.  Benedict Cumberbatch is spectacular in his portrayal of Alan Turing, and the story itself is not only interesting, but also thoroughly heartbreaking.  See it as soon as you can.

One Eyed Girl

For much of One Eyed Girl, I liked where it was going.  A guy is having some issues, he winds up in a cult-like group, and then they … help him.  What?  No way!  Well, no way is right.  The movie eventually takes the exact turn you think it will (but hope it doesn’t) and then it’s just another okay experience.

The Sound And The Fury

What are you doing, James Franco?  You never go full retard.


I liked Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, but I will say that it has some tonal issues.  There are a lot of parts that could have used a very serious/scary touch, but they’re done in an almost lighthearted way, and it’s a bit jarring.

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In Review: Austin Film Festival 2013

November 3, 2013

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The Austin Film Festival recently wrapped, and so now I’m here to give you a quick rundown of what I was able to see.  Unfortunately, this year I had a variety of conflicts with a lot of screenings (in particular, 12 Years A Slave, Nebraska, Mandela), which means that instead of a double digit amount of reviews, I’m only giving you seven.  Blame Obama.

Circle The Wagen

There’s nothing particularly interesting or special about Circle The Wagen, and yet I still found it to be one of the more enjoyable documentaries that I’ve seen in 2013.  I guess I’m just a sucker for two dudes in a dilapidated VW Bus (nicknamed The Croc) trying to make their away across the country.

A Birder’s Guide To Everything

This was the best movie that I saw at this year’s Austin Film Festival.  It’s a wonderful coming of age story that’s funny, charming, and sincere.  Also, I’d recommend watching it just for Kodi Smit-McPhee, who is very good in the film.

Jack, Jules, Esther, And Me

A coming of age movie where no one actually comes of age?  No thanks.

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen Brothers new film is a tough one for me to comment on, as I really feel like I need to see it another time or two to fully wrap my head around it.  With that being said, I did like a lot of the movie.  The music is well done, Oscar Isaac turns in his best performance ever, and the cinematography is stellar.  On the flip side, there’s a few times where the film’s pace slows to a crawl, and the ending isn’t exactly satisfying.

The Pretty One

The premise for The Pretty One sounds creepy – a woman assumes her twin sister’s identity after she dies in a car crash – but it’s actually a quirky, light-hearted film that’s centered around very charismatic performances from Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson.  See it whenever you get a chance.

Last I Heard

There’s a lot to like in Last I Heard, but you should make an effort to see it solely because Paul Sorvino steals scene after scene as a former mafia boss who has been released from prison because he’s dying.  I wanted to hug him after the movie wrapped.

Mystery Road

Mystery Road is a movie that I really wanted to like, but I just didn’t have the patience for it.  Ivan Sen’s direction is so intricate and intimate at every turn that the film actually becomes less entertaining as it goes along.  Also – and I totally understand that this is such a lame reason to not like something – I had a difficult time working my way through the cast’s variety of thick Australian accents.

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