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by Faith Korpi

13 Mar 2012


SXSW curates 14 titles from Sundance to show at the festival each year, and as Safety Not Guaranteed was one of the most talked about films from that fest it was pretty inevitable it would be shown here. Hype however, breeds skepticism and I was side eyeing the heck out of the buzz surrounding this movie.

From a more-or-less rookie writer/director team, Safety Not Guaranteed is based on a Wanted Ad that became an internet meme. You really can’t fault me for being leery, can you?

by Ben Travers

12 Mar 2012


The Cabin in the Woods

It’s been raining since I arrived in Austin, and it looks like it will keep pouring down liquid demons for the next two days. Though rain usually makes it all the more acceptable to spend six hours a day (or more) indoors watching movies, the lines to get into these movies at SXSW are all outside.

It’s a testament to SXSW film-goers that they stuck it out. Even after waiting in line for more than an hour and a half for the world premiere of The Cabin in the Woods, the crowd exploded in cheers and laughter as writer/producer Joss Whedon took the stage with writer/director Drew Goddard. Despite everyone smelling (and looking) like wet mops, Whedon and Goddard heated the crowd into a fervent frenzy. Whedon showed his wit—after instructing the audience on what words to use describing the top secret film, he loudly whispered to Goddard that repeating the phrase “instant classic” would make it more memorable and thus more likely to be used in print—and Goddard demonstrated his (seemingly) legitimate humility when he said he would do his best not to cry on stage.

by Faith Korpi

12 Mar 2012


Two things come to mind when I think of South by Southwest: “Everything is bigger in Texas” and “With great power comes great responsibility.” The former is the state motto and the latter… well, that’s Spiderman’s late Uncle Ben. In a city known for its love of movies there is arguably no greater city to host a film festival than Austin. But Film is merely one portion of SXSW, with its other two parts, Music and Interactive having grown exponentially over the last few years—the festival has now reached a “seemingly” unmanageable size. I say “seemingly” to be kind, when “obviously” would be more apt. Festival-goers who arrived on Friday waited an average of two hours in line for badge pickup. As you can still walk up to registration and purchase a badge, one can only assume there is no cap on attendance (how does that make sense?!). Hence Uncle Ben’s wisdom comes to mind—in spite of being one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable fests to attend, SXSW is hardly the best managed… to the point of being comical.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Oct 2011


Arriving at the venue for The New Yorker Festival’s event with Owen Wilson and moderator Michael Specter, the first thing I noticed was the three chairs on stage, a signifier of a potential guest. My guess was either a Wilson brother or Wes Anderson, the director and co-writer with Wilson on some films including their first, Bottle Rocket, and their most recent, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. When Specter came out with both Wilson and Anderson in tow he joked he wasn’t even going to introduce the director but many in the audience played along. He later said Anderson was there to assist in the conversation with Wilson—which would have been great.

Specter acknowledged that he was not prepared for Anderson’s presence when he was finding clips of Wilson for viewing. Yet, Specter’s posture and questioning for the next hour distinctly leaned towards Anderson. The clips, some from Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and Fox all included Wilson, but the attention was given to Anderson more. Did we really need to know that there are people on the internet who are recreating the “whack-bat” game?

by Sachyn Mital

12 Oct 2011


In his introduction, the director, Asghar Farhadi (About Elly) asked the audience to forget everything they had read or may previously know about his new film. Though I had read a previous review on PopMatters of the film at the Sydney Film Fest, I abided by dissolving any expectations since I came to the New York Film Festival to watch films I would not ordinarily find. This film, A Separation, is more than a simple family drama piece as it totally captures the viewer just as the entire cast is caught up. Husband Nader (Peyman Moadi) and wife Simin (Leila Hatami), at the center of the separation, stumble into a situation that challenges their Islamic beliefs and morals and those of another family, their friends and their young daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi).

Farhadi (the director) does not ever preach about or challenge Islam. He carefully shows how difficult believing and interpreting the faith can be in Iran. When Nader’s father needs to be cared for, the hired help Razieh (Sareh Bayat) has to phone her mosque to get guidance before helping the elderly man with Alzheimer’s. Later the shariah legal procedure throws each character’s actions into stark contrast as the judge is unwilling to change the charges to reflect people’s motivations. At the center of it all is Termeh who wishes to get her two parents back together.

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