SXSW

When the Saints Go Marching In

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The Kennedy/Marshall Company/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story (2022)

In a way, “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” feels like “Summer of Soul ( . . . Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” with melanin vastly depleted. Directors Ryan Suffern and Frank Marshall seem oblivious at best, ignorant at worst, glossing over glaring questions so as to not hold anyone accountable for apparent inequities on display, making the proceedings as pleasant and inoffensive as possible to make nice with white upper-middle-class boomers who presumably make up their target audience.

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Heading South

The-unknown-country-movie-review-lily-gladstone
Morrisa Maltz

MOVIE REVIEW
The Unknown Country (2022)

In “Certain Women” Lily Gladstone made a colossal impression in a mostly wordless part as a lonely rancher hungering after Kristen Stewart. She’s going to hit the big time with the upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon,” but “The Unknown Country” as shown at SXSW Film Festival is a movie she made for herself. She cowrote the story with writer-director Morrisa Maltz, editor Vanara Taing and Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux, who is one of the producers and also plays a version of herself. This group of women have created a fascinating story about how one Indigenous woman must figure out how to rebuild her life with very little to go on. And it’s not that you can’t go home again, but you might not necessarily want to.

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A Laughing Stock

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Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets

MOVIE REVIEW
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets (2022)

The documentary “Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets” recounts how, for one brief moment, unsophisticated investors posting on Reddit beat Wall Street at its own game only to find out that game is indeed rigged in Wall Street’s favor. The entire saga prompted House Financial Services Committee hearings in Washington.

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Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

It-is-in-us-all-movie-review-cosmo-jarvis
SXSW

MOVIE REVIEW
It Is in Us All (2022)

Hamish (Cosmo Jarvis) is in Donegal on the west coast of Ireland for reasons unclear to himself. An aunt he never knew, the sister of his late mother, recently died; and she left him her house. He did not attend her funeral, so this trip to see the house is a mysterious compulsion, one that no one in his life, not himself and certainly not his jackass of a father, Jack (Claes Bang, who’s having a moment), quite understands. En route Hamish is involved in a nasty night-time car accident in which a teenager in the other car is killed. After being interviewed by the gardai and leaving the hospital he goes to the teenager’s sparsely attended funeral, where he is noticed by grieving mother Cara (writer-director Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and peculiar best friend Evan (Rhys Mannion), who survived the accident. And then things get really weird.

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Better Than Sex

Stay-the-night-movie-review-andrea-bang-joe-scarpellino
SXSW

MOVIE REVIEW
Stay the Night (2022)

It’s a very specific category of romantic movie: A cute couple spend a night walking around a city, talking and having random encounters, instead of in bed together. The alpha and omega of this category is obviously “Before Sunrise,” which “Stay the Night” acknowledges in a wordless sequence toward the end, but other movies have worked different angles to keep the couples apart: In “Before We Go” one of them was married, and in “Medicine for Melancholy” the time together follows the one-night stand. In this new Canadian entrant for this category, as shown at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, writer-director Renuka Jeyapalan drops the cute couple in bed almost immediately, before immediately vaulting them right back out the door. It’s a bold choice but with this cast it works perfectly.

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Old Kids on the Block

Kids-in-the-hall-comedy-punks-mark-mckinney-scott-thompson-dave-foley-kevin-mcdonald-bruce-mcculloch
Laura Bombier

MOVIE REVIEW
Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (2022)

At first glance you might not realize how revolutionary they were. The Kids in the Hall were five young white middle-class Canadian men from the suburbs, who came together at improvisational comedy clubs in Toronto in the late ’80s and discovered a collective comic genius for depicting the tribulations of aggravating, ridiculous ordinary life. One of the five, Scott Thompson, was gay – loudly so; the other four (Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald and Bruce McCulloch) couldn’t have cared less about that, and at the time that was new, strange and startling. Over the years the group has come together and come apart, dined out on the success of their TV show which ran from 1989 to 1995, made one movie (1996’s “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy”) and managed (mostly) to stay a coherent, functioning group. This is due to their strong punk ethos – that is, for nonconformity, antiauthoritarianism and being true to oneself.

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Flight of Fancy

Millie-lies-low-ana-scotney
Sandy Lane Productions

MOVIE REVIEW
Millie Lies Low (2022)

She waits until the doors have been sealed before getting up and crying to be allowed off the plane. Then she’s in front of a ticket agent, insisting that she didn’t have a panic attack and pleading to change her unchangeable ticket to the next flight. A new ticket altogether is several thousand dollars, which she doesn’t have. So Millie (Ana Scotney) goes to consider her options. On the airport concourse under which she sits is an advertisement for her university, using her face. With this simple set-up, writer-director Michelle Savill introduces us to Millie’s world (with co-writer Eli Kent), where all the support and love in the world isn’t quite enough to surmount the stresses inside her head.

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Millennium Mambo

Pirates-movie-review-elliot-edusah-reda-elazouar-jordan-peters
Charlotte Croft

MOVIE REVIEW
Pirates (2021)

In 1999, when it was first heard as part of a hidden infomercial track on early pressings of Britney Spears’s “. . . Baby One More Time,” would anyone have guessed that The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” would become a deathless classic? The answer is no. And yet, when young Terrell (Jordan Peters) is attempting to apologize to the fearsome Kelly (Rebekah Murrell) for their breakup, which may or may not have happened because he faked being in a coma to go on holiday with his mates, he recites the lyrics to her like a poem. If only the other people in the record shop where she works didn’t recognize the song. As a gimmick it’s pure silliness: Would any teenage MC from North London, one-third of the Ice Cold Crew, a rap group good enough to get play on the city’s cutthroat pirate radio stations, really be listening to the Backstreet Boys? Also no. But in Reggie Yates’s adorable “Pirates,” shown as part of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, the song both grounds the movie in its time, and sets the cheerful, childish tone.

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Space Oddity

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SXSW

MOVIE REVIEW
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it. Looking back, especially at your own family, often you remember only the best parts, and certainly you focus on what you want to see. In the summer of 1969, while the future Kenneth Branagh was in Belfast going to the cinema to admire Raquel Welch with his family, the future Richard Linklater was in a suburb of Houston also going to the cinema to admire Raquel Welch with his brothers, but more often to watch movies about space. Practically everyone in the Houston area was involved in the space race, including young Stan (voiced by Milo Coy). Believe it or not, his kickball skills brought him to NASA’s attention, since – due to a minor math mishap – one of the space modules had been built at half size. So while his family thought he had a summer camp scholarship, Stan endured months of training to become the first boy to walk on the moon.

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The Italian Jobs

Spin-me-round-movie-review-alison-brie-aubrey-plaza
Sean McElwee

MOVIE REVIEW
Spin Me Round (2022)

The Jeff Baena strolling players, Aubrey Plaza first among equals, return for “Spin Me Round,” a dark screwball farce screened at SXSW in which rich people are always the ones having all the fun. Mr. Baena also returns to Tuscany, where he put Ms. Plaza into a 14th Century convent for “The Little Hours” without changing her comedy one bit; and to black comedy, after 2020’s “Horse Girl” used the director’s same basic style to be serious about mental health and trauma. But the course correction to swap these destinations back and forth in Mr. Baena’s cosmos of unnerving, petulant characters simmering with eccentricity might be only an inch or two.

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