Austin Film Festival 2010 Day Four. The greatest presentation ever, plus two reviews.

Austin Film Festival Day Four Rundown

October 24, 2010

1) Panel Rundown

2) S&M Lawncare

3) Shorts 11 (Young Filmmakers)

1) Panel Rundown

So, the conference ended on a very, very high note. I hit two panels, The Art of Story telling with David Simon, David Peoples, and Robert Rodriguez, which was good, and Movie Endings, The Good, The Bad, and The Incredibly Awesome by Michael Arndt which was the best presentation I have ever seen.

It's late and I work tomorrow so I am putting off my notes yet again. This will be rectified in the coming weeks. So far as screenings...

2) S&M Lawn Care (d Mark Potts)

Comedy is a tricky thing to tackle. Everything has to be dead on or it just dies on screen. S&M Lawn Care, the story of two friends who run a lawn care company that is threatened by a new and mysterious rival, is a hit and miss affair that feels like it runs about twice as long as it needs to.

Don't get me wrong, there are some moments that work, and they work very well. There is some real talent here, this film just feels like it spends more time spinning it's wheels than moving forward.

The scenes with Mel's brother are particular standouts and really show what the filmmakers are capable of. They are crisp, funny, and engaging. There are some other moments but they seem to get a little bogged down and lost. There are characters that seem like they are there for a quick laugh and don't really do anything or go anywhere beyond that, scenes that start funny, end funny, or have funny middles but don't form a cohesive funny scene, and a slow pace that takes some of the momentum away and kills the timing of what could otherwise be very funny scenes.

Were this a 30 minute short it would have outstanding. There are good ideas, deliveries, and techniques on display here but there isn't sufficient story to make it interesting for it's rather short run time. It isn't terrible, it just has the feel of a short that got a little ambitious and lost a lot of what could have made it great.

2) Shorts 11 (Young Filmmakers)

I was a little leery going into this one. Young filmmakers (specifically high school age in this case) tend to go for cheap derivative comedy or make things that are so "inside" that anybody who doesn't know the filmmakers personally feels lost.

This was not the case here.

What was on display here was raw talent. While it hasn't yet been refined and sharpened by experience what was on display showed the promise of exceptional work to come. These films were moody, ambitious, and affecting.

I'm going to focus on four.

1) Do Not Enter (Bryan Rivelli, Ethan Greenfield, Sarah Alli) From forgotten subway tunnels to abandoned factories, New York City’s hidden environment is unknown to most yet it provides a unique window into the past.

This short documentary about people who explore the unknown corners of New York city was handled with a delicate and expert hand. It's moody, quiet, and conveys the vast, open spaces of a teeming metropolis with subtlety and nuance.

2) Research and Development (Riley Metcalfe) It’s the ink battle to end all time.

A very entertaining and well made stop motion film. This young director handled the technical difficulties with patience and a practiced hand. Very well done.

3) The Travelers' Verse (Trey Hardin) Trouble follows musicians Nick and Scott as they try and make it to an audition for what could be their big break.

Very ambitious and heartfelt. Trey went for some difficult camera work and it paid off. There is a lot of talent on display here. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

4) Une Journee Tragique (Andrew Edison) Sometimes the villain wins.

A very well executed parody of a classic silent movie standard. It does what all comedy should, gets to the point and surprises us.

The list could go on, but I am tired.

Now that the conference is over I am all about screenings.

In the next few days I should have reviews for the following:

Raging Boll

Rubble Kings

127 Hours

Brothers Justice

Black Swan

Made in Dagenham

Stay tuned.

(Note: For most of the features I am writing abbreviated reviews and will go back and do longer ones at some point in the future.)


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