The Playlist

Interview: Kate Lyn Sheil & John Gallagher Jr., Navigate Tech-Dating & Obsession In 'The Heart Machine'

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • March 13, 2014 4:46 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Part of the pleasure of attending an established film festival like South By Southwest is the caliber of emerging talent it attracts: when you’re seeing a new director’s feature debut, you can rest (reasonably) assured that the cream of the submissions pile has risen to the top. Such is the case with Zachary Wigon’s first film, “The Heart Machine.” Starring John Gallagher, Jr. (“The Newsroom” and last year’s SXSW breakout, “Short Term 12”) and Kate Lyn Sheil (an indie darling who recently appeared in season two of “House of Cards”), the film explores the technological implications of the current dating climate, where sex-with-no-strings is available at the touch of an app, yet intimacy can be kept safely at bay via one’s computer screen.

SXSW Review: Jimi Hendrix Biopic 'All Is By My Side' Starring Andre 3000, Imogen Poots & Hayley Atwell

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 13, 2014 11:01 AM
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  • 4 Comments
All Is By My Side
The story goes that before Jimi Hendrix electrified audiences with his game-changing approach to rock 'n roll and blues, coupled with this flamboyant, jaw-dropping guitar technique, he was just another musician trying to pay the bills on the R&B circuit. Until one day, he was spotted by Linda Keith—girlfriend of someone you might have heard of named Keith Richards—at the Cheetah Club in New York, and putting Hendrix in touch with the right people, he was quickly launched to superstardom. And it's a good story, with a rise-to-fame narrative, famous faces and presumably, memorable songs. Yet, somehow, in Oscar winning "12 Years Slave" scribe John Ridley's film "All Is By My Side," which he wrote and directed, we get very little understanding of the artistry and ambition that would see one among a number of guitarists hustling for a dollar, become one of the most influential rock 'n roll musicians of all time.

SXSW Review: Swedish House Mafia Documentary 'Leave The World Behind'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 12, 2014 9:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Leave The World Behind
The electronic dance movement is now. Between French electronic outfit Daft Punk winning the Album of the Year Grammy while dressed as ice cream-colored robots, the Internet-dominating Beyonce surprise release, and earlier this week the release of a new album by 26-year-old dance music maven (and "Spring Breakers" composer) Skrillex — the 124-beats-per-second revolution is very much ongoing. And one of the acts that exemplified this new cultural movement – from their catchy, super dance-y singles to their blistering live show – was Swedish House Mafia.

Interview: Director Lenny Abrahamson on Michael Fassbender’s Giant Head, Faking SXSW in 'Frank' & More

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • March 12, 2014 4:05 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Frank, Fassbender
Obscuring the terrifically expressive and sometimes terrifying (“12 Years a Slave”) face of actor Michael Fassbender may seem like sacrilege, but that’s just what director Lenny Abrahamson (“What Richard Did”) does in “Frank,” a film that premiered atSundance but is—appropriately, for reasons that will be explained—also playing this week at South By Southwest. Screenwriters Jon Ronson (“The Men Who Stare at Goats”) and Peter Straughan (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) have expanded on a memoir by Ronson to create a wholly unique, comi-tragic portrait of one band’s evolution.

SXSW Review: Horror 'Among The Living' From 'Inside' Directors Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 12, 2014 12:03 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Among the Living
In 2007 French filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo released "Inside," a French horror film about a pregnant woman who is violently targeted by an unknown intruder. The movie was brutal, unflinching, and totally brilliant. It was an exercise in terror that was both excessively stylized and almost uncomfortably realistic; a movie of visceral muchness. The violence of "Inside" meant that a wide release would come with the stigma of an NC-17 rating, so it didn't get the kind of exposure and acclaim that it rightfully deserved, instead amassing a cult audience on home video. Their follow-up, "Livid," was never released in American on any format, so the fact that their new film, "Among the Living," would make its world premiere at South by Southwest, was pretty big news indeed, not just for horror fans but fans of quality cinema in general. Sadly, the new film captures none of the fun or pizzazz of their first film. In fact, it's straight up bad.

2014 SXSW Film Festival Winners Include 'Fort Tilden,' 'The Great Invisible,' 'True Detective' & More

It seems like it just started yesterday, but the curtains are beginning to close on another SXSW Film Festival. And part of that process means handing out awards, with the SXSW jury revealing the winners who will be leaving Austin with more than just BBQ stains and memories of a great time. Read More »

SXSW Review: ‘Kelly & Cal’ Starring Juliette Lewis & Jonny Weston

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 11, 2014 5:27 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Kelly & Cal
The notions of a mother estranged from her own offspring and a millennial teen embittered with the rage, hard-luck and confinement of his paralysis are, on their own, distinct and interesting ideas worth investigating. And the indie “Kelly & Cal” takes both of these ideas and merges them together into what should ostensibly be a compelling exploration of two separate walks of life struggling with their own disenchantments. But frustratingly, the movie can’t seem to make much of either premise, and in fact, each suggestion is mostly just a façade to examine human nature elements that are far more banal.

Interview: Robert Duvall’s Still Got It In “A Night In Old Mexico”

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • March 11, 2014 5:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A Night In Old Mexico
It’s no surprise that Robert Duvall is a cantankerous (and charming) old coot in his new film, “A Night in Old Mexico,” helmed by the Spanish director and composer Emilio Aragón. The 83-year-old is still in fine and feisty form as Red Bovie, an old cowboy forced off his land by developers turning the area into sad excuses for “ranchettes.” Rather than live out his days in a trailer home, Red takes off for a Mexican border town with Gally (Jeremy Irvine, “War Horse”), the cowboy-wannabe grandson he has only just met due to a 40-year estrangement with his only son.

SXSW Review: 'Doc Of the Dead' Explores How Zombies Rose From The Grave & Strangled Pop Culture

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 11, 2014 4:38 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Doc Of The Dead
Zombies are definitely having a cultural moment. In fact, their blood-smeared claws are all over every aspect of the post-apocalyptic pop culture terror-dome, from the phenomenally successful cable series "The Walking Dead" to Brad Pitt's against-all-odds box office smash "World War Z," to things like Max Brooks' best-selling "Zombie Survival Guide" (which begat the novel that "World War Z" was loosely based on). In short: the undead are everywhere. So it's unsurprising that a documentarian like Alexandre O. Philippe, who charted the backlash against the guardian of The Force in the "The People vs. George Lucas," would take aim at the slow, shambling corpses in "Doc of the Dead." Somewhat more surprising is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a complete rehash of a subject that's been endlessly covered, proving that there's still some life left in the reanimated corpse of the zombie documentary.

SXSW Review: Deeply Human And Quietly Unsettling Thriller 'Two Step'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 11, 2014 12:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
As far as crime movies go, things are feeling a little "been there, stole that." These days it seems rare that a thriller will genuinely surprise you and offer thrills beyond what you can find on any number of hour-long prime time dramas. (Would anyone going to pick "Alex Cross" over "True Detective?") But "Two Step," a small and quietly affecting thriller set in the dusty nooks and crannies of Austin, Texas, somehow manages to achieve such a feat.

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