Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My SXSW

When last we spoke, dear reader, one day of SXSW was gone and we had seen exactly one movie after getting our badges and some advanced tickets. Of course, we had gone to the Texas Film Hall of Fame party and the pre-party before that. (See Connie Britton above left with Dana Wheeler-Nicholson helping with the live auction at the gala. They are stars in "Friday Night Lights," a TV show we love.)

Well, the weekend went well. We managed four films and a panel on Saturday and Sunday. Some peoples' schedules are much more brutal but with my persistent allergy/cold (I thought I was getting over it and then it morphed and bit again) and FFP needing to do some writing we couldn't do the death march. We met up with some Cinematic people including our friend Jette who were rushing about madly and our friend Christopher Holland of B-Side Entertainment said he had to wait until a lot of people left before he could see some films. A college sophomore from Baylor declared in the line Sunday night that it would be her sixth film. She should have the stamina for the nursing career she is going to pursue.

Saturday we got a few things handled and then went to the Convention Center theater and queued up for "45365." A man who turned out to be the three brother filmmakers' father handed us a matchbook with the times for the showings and the title stamped on it. The title (pronouneced four-five-three-six-five) is the zip code for Syndey, Ohio where the filmmakers grew up. The kids wanted to write about their home town which they had left behind for film work and college and finally decided to make a doc and make the town speak for itself through film of the place and some inhabitants. At first I thought maybe they needed to edit some stuff but gradually I realized the film was pitch perfect. They stayed out of the way and let the town and some residents speak. By the end we had figured out relationships, we wondered about backgrounds and what would happen next for people. We knew what events people looked forward to and how the seasons unfolded there. We found ourselves in a line for another movie later talking to other people who'd seen it about the various characters in it like they were from our own hometown or, at least, characters in a well-formed narrative.

We walked back to the condo for a quick snack and refresh and headed out to the movie "Objectified." It was made by Gary Hustwit, who made the movie "Helvetica" we so enjoyed last year. The movie is a documentary about the 'stuff' around us and how it is designed and the life cycle of all the things in our world. Very enjoyable. We headed to Taste after that to have a meal. Just didn't have another movie in us. The meal and wine were pleasant.

Sunday we sat around in our sweats for a while, doing some writing and taking in the Sunday paper and such. FFP made us a big breakfast of migas and toast which sustained us until we ate a meal in front of a movie at Alamo South Lamar.

We headed to the Convention Center and went to Christopher Holland's book book signing for "Film Festival Secrets." We wanted to see a panel on design with the director of "Objectified" and some designers and a New York Times magazine writer, Rob Walker, who writes a column about, well, stuff. There was a bit of time to wait so we got a cup of coffee and went into the day stage cafe where the Interactive conference interview of Nate Silver by Stephen Baker was being broadcast. Heh, we wouldn't have been admitted to an Interactive panel with a film badge. It was pretty interesting. Silver is the numbers guy behind FiveThirtyEight.com and Stephen Baker wrote "The Numerati." After this we went to the panel on design. It was packed. Like the movie "Objectified" it was a joint Interactive/Film event. There were lots of people with funny dye jobs and vintage clothes. Must be more of that in the online world than in film.

We decided when the panel ended to try the new (for this year's fest) shuttle and waited a few minutes to catch a bus at 4th and Red River. We were tremendously early for "Bomber" but it was worth the wait. It was a witty family drama about a mom, dad and son who go off on a quest to let the dad resolve the wounds of a mistake made when he was a teenaged kid in WWII. Around this hook we see a delightful bit of Europe and watch a family try to unravel the damages life brings and get down to basic caring.

When the movie (and our meal) was over we were wondering "could we actually see another?" We decided to try. We waited for the shuttle bus which came after a while and delivered us to 7th Street near Congress. We decided not to try going back to the house and had a cup of coffee and a snack at the Hidelout. Lines were long for the movie, "Women in Trouble," at the Paramount. There were many VIPs and celebrities but we got in, no problem, and got our favorite seats (left section orchestra, row T, two on the aisle). We were excited that Connie Britton was in the movie and another "Friday Night Lights" actress, Andriane Palacki. The movie was raunchy, irreverant, unlikely and laugh-out-loud funny. It was "Pulp Fiction" all is connected style without the violence. Well, there was a tiny bit of violence, nothing to speak of.

We were more than done when the movie was over, but people were queued outside for another. We got home just after midnight.

Yesterday (Monday) we were all about trying to have a reasonable pace. I was trying to get over whatever weird illness plagues me and FFP was up against some deadlines. We finally settled on seeing a shorts program at 1:30 at Alamo South and walking up there for our alleged exercise. Shorts Reel 1 seemed disorganized and theme-less. I know themes are hard to achieve in these things but this one had everything from a wordless narrative short of amazing physical comedy ("Sunday Mornings") to a documentary about cleaning up the 'chicken bones and newspaper' type hoarder's house ("Isis Avenue"). Those two were pretty worthy as was an over the top improv about therapy called "Countertransference." But all in all the reel left me hungry for coherence. But I was otherwise quiet sated with a three cheese grilled sandwich and fries and a Coke.

We walked home. (The walk home from Alamo is easier because it is mostly downhill.) We got a few things done and headed out for "The Two Bobs." It was a big deal movie for the fest, shot around town and with Tim McCanlies, writer and director. We'd gotten an advance ticket which allows first dibs in the badge line. We were surprised to see a good sixty or eighty people with 'cast and crew' tickets. All was utter chaos at the Paramount but we got in and got our usual seats. The movie was slapstick and predictable but great fun nonetheless with fabulous set decoration and many local folks involved. The game animation was great fun, a bloody sendup of the genre. I have to say I liked it. I was looking for friend Jeff Lofton who was an extra but missed his moments on the screen. (I think I was distracted by Turk Pipkin in drag in that scene.) We were going to meet the Loftons for drinks and dinner, but after all was chaos. We didn't have a mobile number so FFP went back to the place to find it. I waited around trying to spot them. There were such crowds for the next movie plus Leslie posing in front of the Paramount that I finally decided we'd missed them and started home myself. Then FFP called and he'd gotten them on the phone and they were in front of the Paramount. We converged at Taste, heard the end of Trevor LaBonte and Liz Morphis doing their set and ate dinner and drank, all six of us. Taste was deserted. If you SXSWers are looking for a place to dine, venture all the way to Cesar Chavez, it's not far, and grab some fab food and wine. They even have Yelp specials for SXSW.

And then bed. I developed a cough at the beginning of the meal which I contained with cough drops and decon and water (and OK some wine). It's heck being sick during so much activity. Today is St. Pat's day. Last night was chaos downtown already and music isn't starting until the end of the week. We are going to try to see two movies today. And perhaps get some errands done. If I feel like it, maybe house cleaning. (I don't have to be very sick to eschew that.)

1 comment:

Dallas Jerry said...

Whew! You two sure were busy running around and watching (or trying to watch) films. It does remind me of watching films at the theater at the UT student union for 25 cents each. You'd see fims, sometimes student-made films, you otherwise would never see. (One comes to mind: "Campus Christi".)