William Mapother, Brit Marling and Jordan Baker
The Dish & The Spoon
Greta Gerwig, Olly Alexander
Surprise screenings and indie dramas for me on SXSW day 4. First, The Dish & The Spoon, a film that was only on my radar because it stars Greta Gerwig (Greenburg), an actress I happen to think is stunning. The writer/director Alison Bagnall was new to me. I went into the screening trying to temper hopes that this would be one of those “indie gems” one hears tell of – I needn’t have bothered. It is.
Rose (Gerwig) descends into an emotional tailspin after her husband admits to an affair. Determined to get revenge, she drives to a boarded-up beach town to hunt down the other woman. Once there she meets up with a stranded British teenage boy (Olly Alexander) who soon becomes her constant companion and caretaker. This unlikely pair stumbles through a series of adventures, resulting in a rather unconventional romance. – Film’s Press Release
Wonderfully acted and beautiful to look at, it has a story with just the right amount of gusto. It seems to me that in indie films, writers/directors far too often equate depressing with poignant. Bagnall appears to understand that there is indeed a significant difference. The Dish & The Spoon reminds me of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero, in both style and pacing. There’s also a level of innocence here that one hardly ever sees in this genre, especially from a movie about infidelity.
Acting opposite Gerwig is the catalyst of said innocence, Olly Alexander, a quirky Brit I look forward to seeing in many more roles.
Surprise screenings are a big to-do at South By. The programming director who introduces all the major premiers has said before every screening that we should be “taking chances” and seeing things we wouldn’t normally. Secret screenings are just another way SXSW gets the audience to do just that.
The Dish & The Spoon
Filtering through the rumors of what these films might be, and helping to spread said rumors is at least half the fun. Today all I had to do was stand still for longer than two seconds before someone would ask, “Hey do you know what the secret screening is going to be?” The rumors were: Super 8, Red State, Tree of Life, Thor, Your Highness…eventually I just put my earbuds in. It is supposed to be a surprise after all.
The last time I attended a secret screening at the Paramount Theater it was V for Vendetta. Back then they actually made everyone turn in their cameras and cell phones before they could go in. Thankfully they have done away with that system. Now they post guys in suits with night vision goggles at all corners of the theater. Kind of surreal, and rather creepy to forget and then re-realize a guy with high tech goggles is watching you.
None of the rumors were true as it turns out. The film ended up being Another Earth, one I never heard of and therefore knew nothing about and had no expectations. Those can sometimes be the best conditions to see a film.
Actress/co-writer Brit Marling introduced the film, which I have to give her props for handling so well (remember, she was addressing an audience that thought they were seeing Super 8). She handled herself very well, and only a handful of jerks got up to leave. Their loss.
Another Earth is an absorbing sci-fi drama/romance that the less you know about, the better. If you were lucky enough to have seen Moon without knowing anything about it, this is like that. And if you weren’t lucky enough, think how much more you could have enjoyed it if you had been unaware. (After all, that’s why they call them “spoilers”).
This is high-concept film done with a super low budget and by a first time feature director (Mike Cahill). Color me impressed. Any film that gets an Austin audience to gasp at its ending deserves some buzz.
// Notes from the Road
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