TOH! heads to SXSW on March 7. What films from the sprawling fest am I most anticipating? Find out, below.
10. “Above All Else.” Director John Fiege’s doc playing in the Spotlight section
follows one David Daniel, a man whose home lies in the crossfire of the
Keystone XL oil pipeline tar sands. He rallies neighbors and environmentlists
alike to help him build a tree-top blockade to stop the pipeline’s progress. (Trailer below.)
9. “Take Care.” Leslie Bibb stars as a woman who returns home from the
hospital after being hit by a car. Problem is, not even her sister, neighbor or
supposed best friend want to take care of her. So she turns to the last resort:
Her ex-boyfriend (played by Thomas Sadoski of “The Newsroom”). This Narrative
Spotlight comedy is helmed by Liz Tuccillo.
8. “The Mend.” Josh Lucas headlines this in-competition title, starring as a grumpy
New Yorker, Mat, who takes over his younger brother Alan’s house while Alan’s
away on a long-planned vacation with his girlfriend. But when Alan returns home
early — and none-too-happily discovers the state of his house — a mystery
emerges as to why his girlfriend has suddenly disappeared. Directed by Sundance
Lab alum John Magary.
7. “That Guy Dick Miller.” You know those character actors you’ve seen in everything
but can never quite place their names? 85-year-old Dick Miller has been in
everything from Roger Corman’s “Little Shop of Horrors” to James Cameron’s “The
Terminator,” sharing the screen with Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro, and
getting to work with the likes of Scorsese, Coppola and Spielberg. This
Spotlight doc tells his story — with quite a few of those famous names and faces
making appearances as well. (Trailer below.)
6. “Before I Disappear.” Expanded from the 2013 Oscar-winning Live-Action short “Curfew,”
this in-competition title centers on a young man called upon to take care of
his estranged sister’s eleven-year-old daughter for a few hours. Directed by
and starring Shawn Christensen, as well as Fatima Ptacek, Emmy Rossum, Paul
Wesley, Ron Perlman and Richard Schiff.
5.“The Immortalists.” This in-competition doc looks at two men, lab biologist and
long distance runner Bill Andrews and hirsute biologist Aubrey de Grey, both
nurturing the same obsession: Discovering a medical breakthrough for eternal
youth. They think of our current world as “blind to the tragedy of old age.”
They clearly don’t live anywhere near Hollywood. But the premise has me totally hooked.
4. “Starry Eyes.” Based on an enticing first trailer (watch below), this
Midnighter tale of a young actress (Alexandra Essoe) struggling to make it in a
grey and unsettling Hollywood looks to have shades of “Black Swan.” Directed by
Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, with the always welcome Pat Healy (“Compliance”)
in a supporting role.
3. “The Heart Machine.” From a recent turn in “House of Cards” to much more indie
fare like Alex Ross Perry’s “The Color Wheel” and Rick Alverson’s “The Comedy,”
actress Kate Lyn Sheil continues to be one to watch. Here she stars as one half
of an online long-distance relationship; she’s in Berlin, while Cody (John
Gallagher Jr. of “The Newsroom”) lives in Brooklyn. But paranoia brews between
the two as we track their parallel lives. Zachary Wigon directs.
2. “Wild Canaries.” Mumblecore apparently meets noir (Mumblenoir?) in this
in-competition comedy following a newly engaged Brooklyn couple who suspect
foul play when an elderly lady in their building winds up dead. Familiar indie
faces pepper the cast like Sophia Takal, Jason Ritter, Alia Shawkat and Kevin
Corrigan. Lawrence Michael Levine (“Gabi on the Roof in July”) directs.
1. “Vessel.” First-time feature filmmaker Diana Whitten’s in-competition
doc focuses on Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who sails around the globe providing
abortions at sea for women who have no legal alternative. Sounds like an unlikely
cross between two strong docs from 2013, “Maidentrip” and “After Tiller,” with
subject material too intriguing to ignore.