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Film Festival News and Reviews: Sundance, Cannes and more

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    "Father" Tops Sofia Film Fest

    "Father" Tops Sofia Film Fest

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    SXSW Snapshot: Dia Sokol's "Sorry, Thanks"

    Dia Sokol's "Sorry, Thanks" has such keen insight into human behavior that its accuracy almost seems like pure luck. Based around the confused, occasionally self-destructive behavior of several young people in San Francisco's Mission District, it deals with relationship issues and wandering youth disillusionment through lightly engaging scenes that gradually develop a dramatic edge. Charismatic Max (Wiley Wiggins) grows confused about his relationship with his steady girlfriend (Ia Hernandez) when the thoughtful Kira (Kenya Miles) makes subtle advances on him. Meanwhile, Max fends off the tough love of his hyperactive friend Mason (Andrew Buj...

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    SXSW Snapshot: Sam Raimi's "Drag Me To Hell"

    Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell" feels like the director blowing off twenty years of steam. The slapstick/horror duality that he mastered with his brilliant "Evil Dead" movies, repeatedly and explicitly referenced in the new feature, marks a crowd-pleasing return to form. At once absurdly cheesy and am...

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    SXSW Snapshot: Daryl Wein's "Breaking Upwards"

    The technologically progressive "Four Eyed Monsters" looks like a downright period piece compared to the social media content in Daryl Wein's "Breaking Upwards." The story of a New York couple experimenting with an open relationship, the movie contains innumerable references to Facebook, Gchat, JDate, camera phones, you name it. In some cases, a filmmaker's attempt to constantly remind viewers that their plot unfolds in the present can have excruciating results (remember "Honest to blog?"). But Wein's clever approach to the conventions of the romantic comedy smooth over these obvious contemporary ingredients. It's not a perfectly even ride, b...

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    SXSW Snapshot: Gary Hustwit's "Objectified"

    There's a new documentary at SXSW from the guy who made "Helvetica," and if that turns your head, then Gary Hustwit's "Objectified" will not disappoint. However, even those uninterested in the history of a popular font should find an appealing hook in Hustwit's fascinating analysis of the design bus...

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    At SXSW, Considering Word of Mouth in an Emerging On Demand World

    The strained film distribution system is often a topic of discussion at film festivals. New and established filmmakers gather to hear the latest from industry insiders who've said it all before. But this year at SXSW, a few things feel a bit different. For one, as has been well documented, a handful...

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    SXSW Snapshot: Craig Johnson's "True Adolescents"

    With "True Adolescents," Mark Duplass stars in what must be the most conventional recent project on his resume. Putting on his best Jack Black impression, the "Puffy Chair" co-director (and "Humpday" star) plays moody, unkempt Seattle rock musician Sam, a crude character unable to pull his aimless life into focus. After another frustrated roommate kicks him to the curb, Sam winds up crashing with his settled aunt (Melisso Leo, in hardly more than a cameo), and ultimately hits the road on a camping trip with her brooding adolesent son Oliver (Brett Loer) and his friend Jake (Carr Thompson). Things do wrong: They fight, get lost in the woods, w...

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    SXSW Snapshot: What Zombies? Bruce McDonald's "Pontypool"

    I'm in the minority thinking that Bruce McDonald's "The Tracey Fragments" made for one of the niftiest avant-garde movie experiences of 2008, but McDonald doesn't try to please a large crowd, anyway. For years, the director has worked with complete autonomy, thriving off his community in Canada while still managing to attract stars to his projects. He does what he wants for whoever cares to pay attention. At the same time, there's generally something familiar about the genres McDonald chooses to play around with; he just tends to rejiggle the pieces, and boldly leave a few of them out of the picture. "Tracey Fragments" was a visually jagged t...

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    SXSW Snapshot: Michael Paul Stephenson's "Best Worst Movie"

    Despite all the fantastic literature on cult movies, the phenomena generally speak for themselves. Outside of J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum's classic "Midnight Movies" tome, cultural analysis of cult movies tends to adopt an outsider's gaze, observing the ongoing niche engagement with oddities like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" but not expressing any appreciation for the product. The result is somewhat distancing and ultimately self-defeating. The documentary "Best Worst Movie" provides an alternative to that trend by actively participating in the cult sensation at its center: "Troll 2," widely regarded as one of most spectacularly bad...

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    SXSW Interview: "45365" Director Turner Ross

    Editor's Note: This is one of a series of interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival.

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