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22 Reviews From SXSW 2012

22 Reviews From SXSW 2012

The SXSW Festival wraps up this weekend and Indiewire was on site to catch as many films as possible. 

Click through below for 22 of Indiewire’s reviews of films from this year’s SXSW:

“Bernie” A-
Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is an oddly endearing love letter to Southern eccentricities that calls to mind no less than his iconic “Slacker.” However, the comparison ends there: With its purposefully naive sense of self-mockery, “Bernie” is a shape-shifting genre vehicle set apart from anything else in Linklater’s career.

“The Cabin in the Woods” B+
Relentlessly toying around with a meta story, “The Cabin in the Woods” is sometimes too clever for its own good. However, by successfully analyzing tired formulas, it gives them new life.

“The Do-Deca Pentathlon” A-
The movie illustrates two certainties: Nobody stops growing up and the Duplass brothers still have the skills to prove it.

“Dollhouse” B+
“Dollhouse” is intentionally all over the place, at times coming across like a caustic generational statement, then exploding into a near-tribal depiction of tribal disarray, and eventually settling into a punk-inflected morality tale. It overcomes an erratic, confusing nature through sheer unpredictability, and for the innovative way it renders a coming-of-age formula in attitudes and emotions.

“Electrick Children” B+
While maintaining an amusing concept and sustained by the thoroughly sweet nature of its young protagonists, “Electrick Children” pulls of the neat trick of maintaining credibility, never allowing the magic realist hook to devolve into quirky American indie clichés.

“Fat Kid Rules the World” B-
“Fat Kid” occasionally suffers from the feeble conventions of an afterschool special, although it rises above those trappings largely thanks to an impressive turn by Jacob Wysocki.

“Francine” B-
In her first major role since winning an Oscar for “The Fighter,” Melissa Leo has chosen a boldly anti-formula work of supreme minimalism, the kind of showcase that many actors dread. It’s a commendable achievement in an otherwise uneven production.

“Gimme the Loot”

At the world premiere of “Gimme the Loot” at the SXSW Film Festival, writer-director Adam Leon said he’d been working on reshoots only a few months ago. That encapsulates the quality driving this delightfully scrappy first feature about young New York graffiti artists, a stitched-together combo of outlaw energy and bittersweet romance that gives the impression of Little Rascals in the big city. Like the graffiti art it documents, it’s a lovingly handmade affair.

“Girl Model” A
It should come as no great surprise that a movie called “Girl Model” has a dark side. The particularly startling aspect of this sharp non-fiction exposé from documentarians David Redmon and Ashley Sabin is the eerie, visceral horror the haunts every scene.

“The Imposter” B+
Easy to watch but littered with holes only noticeable once the credits roll, “The Impostor” borrows the sly methods of its hoodwinking protagonist to trick its viewers into the expectation of a single payoff. Instead, it offers several minor ones.

“Kid-Thing” B
Experientially, “Kid-Thing” is less movie than kaleidoscopic barrage of visual concepts and abrupt exchanges. Some are more cogent than others and none are devoid of the Zellners’ relentlessly inventive approach.

“Killer Joe” B+
For much of the time, “Killer Joe” plays like a low rent crime saga from the Coen brothers template without the complex cinematic inspiration, and yet it still maintains a certain grindhouse-caliber thrill factor.

“King Kelly” A-
Amateur-quality camerawork has become a part of the vernacular, with the first-person perspective providing an intimate window into human behavior, particularly among the youth culture most capable of using the device to record itself. Shot exclusively on iPhones, “King Kelly” turns that tendency into an American horror show, delivering a ferocious indictment of Generation Me by boiling it down to a single ditzy teen.

“Leave Me Like You Found Me”

Sustained by its two leads, the movie never drags, although it constantly wanders and takes the audience along for the ride.

“Marley” B-
Despite its breadth, “Marley” delivers little more than a well-crafted overview sure to please diehard fans while leaving others unmoved.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” B+
It’s probably unfair to describe “Safety Not Guaranteed” as “Back to the Future” by way of “Juno,” as it certainly sets the bar too high. But in terms of entertainment value and tone, the shoe fits.

“The Sheik and I” A-
Zahedi has also made an alarming testament to the challenges of sincere expression in societies opposed to its function. It’s a daring work made with reckless abandon — in other words, both irresponsible and necessary.

“Sinister” B
Anchored by a moody Ethan Hawke performance and classically unsettling scare tactics, this icy supernatural thriller from director Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and co-written by Ain’t It Cool News contributor C. Robert Cargill (aka “Massawyrm”) delivers on the promise of its title by boiling down its appeal to pure atmosphere.

“Somebody Up There Likes Me” A
“Somebody Up There Likes Me” is best seen as an entirely abstract work rich with incidents and symbolism. But it never slows down to linger on drearier moments or draw out its dramatic circumstances. Byington excels at turning the edict that time waits for no one into a sensory experience.

“Starlet” B+
“Starlet” contains enough provocative subtext to deliver on its themes about the challenges of communication. Unlike Baker’s previous efforts, the movie never makes obvious its trajectory, instead wandering through a series of events in search of a revelation much like Jane herself.

“Tchoupitoulas” A-
By assuming their protagonists’ youthful perspective, the Ross brothers infuse the familiar iconography of Louisiana’s celebratory urban landscape with a pure, almost spiritual depth.

“V/H/S” A
Handheld camcorder footage provides an excuse to eschew cinematic storytelling in favor of sloppiness, under the assumption that the amateur quality fits the narrative.  The anthology horror movie “V/H/S” is a sharp rebuke to this laziness, delivering the creepiest first-person horror movie since the original “Paranormal Activity” while pushing the genre in a fresh direction with the sheer visceral energy of its execution.


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