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  • Transcendence 2014

    ★½ Watched 14 Apr, 2014

    Wally Pfister has spent almost fifteen years as Christopher Nolan's go-to cinematographer. From Memento to The Dark Knight Rises, he's been behind the camera capturing incredible action-packed movies. For his directorial debut he chose a cyberthriller and packed it with terrific actors, even getting Nolan to serve as an executive producer. This is all quite an impressive pedigree for a first-time director, but it's also why the finished project feels so disappointing.

    The story begins in the not-too-distant future with…

  • Nymphomaniac: Vol. II 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 06 Apr, 2014

    While the first installment of Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac focused on Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) graphically retelling the stories of her sexual history as a young woman to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), Nymphomaniac: Vol. II shifts to her adulthood. She's on an endless quest to recreate the enormity of feeling from a spontaneous orgasm she once experienced as a pre-teen, but as the story picks back up, we're at a stage where she basically has lost all sexual desire and, even worse,…

  • Mistaken for Strangers 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 01 Apr, 2014

    Brooklyn indie rockers The National have been slowly building their fanbase since the release of their first album all the way back in 2001. It took several albums for them to truly break, but now they're to the point of their career where this month they'll be playing three nights in a row here in Austin at ACL Live's Moody Theater. If you're looking for an in-depth documentary about the band and their history, you'll have to wait, but you…

  • Noah 2014

    ★★½ Watched 28 Mar, 2014

    Ben was quick to point out after the movie ended that perhaps my anti-religion bent kept me from enjoying this more, but I easily spent half of the running time rolling my eyes.

    I am a huge fan of Darren Aronofsky (creation myths, less so) and there are some nice flourishes here, but I just never got settled into this. Maybe it's because there are gigantic fucking "stone angels" who protect Noah and help him build his ark? It was…

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 22 Mar, 2014

    Rewatched with Wes Anderson's commentary track from the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray.

  • Tim's Vermeer 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 20 Mar, 2014

    I'm somewhat embarrased to admit that I never took an art history course in college. My knowledge and awareness of 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer even more embarrasingly begins and ends with Scarlett Johansson portraying the young woman who is the subject of Vermeer's painting in Girl with a Pearl Earring. I felt slightly more knowledgable after watching the documentary Tim's Vermeer, directed by Teller of the comedy/illusionist duo Penn and Teller.

    If you take a look at Vermeer's work,…

  • Nymphomaniac: Vol. I 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2014

    Despite its occasionally explicit nature, anybody who is familiar with Von Trier's work will not be surprised to know that the film is not at all sexy. If Nymphomaniac had been submitted for a rating, the movie would certainly have earned an NC-17, but I suspect that if two or three brief shots of penetration and/or oral sex had been removed that it could have earned an R. I was not shocked in the least, even when I occasionally felt…

  • Arlo and Julie 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 10 Mar, 2014

    It was a full house at the Topfer for the World Premiere of "Arlo and Julie." Steve Mims previously was at the festival in 2011 as the co-director of "Incendiary: The Willingham Case." He's returned this year with an Austin-based comedy that has been the most pleasant surprise of the festival for me this year.

    Arlo (Alex Dobrenko) works at a software company, but his passion is in writing about history. When the movie begins, he's celebrating a $25 check…

  • Pulp

    ★★★★½ Watched 09 Mar, 2014

    In 1979, Jarvis Cocker formed the band Pulp when he was just 15 years old. The first decade of the band's existence did not provide much in the way of success, but that all changed in the early 1990s when they finally got their due and started to become of the biggest bands in England.

    That backstory is not illuminated in Florian Habicht's documentary on the band that had its world premiere at the festival on Sunday night. As Cocker…

  • I Believe in Unicorns 2014

    ★★★ Watched 09 Mar, 2014

    "There's so much I want to say, but I don't know where to start."

    Writer/director Leah Meyerhoff's dreamlike debut feature is a very personal project. Like the film's lead character Davina (Natalia Dyer), Meyerhoff herself grew up taking care of her single mother who was in a wheelchair. In fact, her own mother Toni plays the mother in this film, a fictionalized account of her youth.

    Davina feels at once to be much wiser than her years and also curiously…

  • The Possibilities Are Endless

    ★★★★½ Watched 09 Mar, 2014

    Edward Lovelace and James Hall previously worked as executive producers on the 3D concert film "Katy Perry: Part Of Me." As directors, they've headed in the complete opposite direction, both musically and tonally, for this chronicle of Edwyn Collins and his recovery after a devastating stroke.

    Collins was the leader of a Scottish post-punk band called Orange Juice from 1979-1985. While the band only once broke into the UK Top 40 chart, they are still revered as masters of melody…

  • The Heart Machine 2014

    ★★½ Watched 08 Mar, 2014

    Louis Black, co-founder of SXSW, did the introduction for this film where he mentioned that seven of the eight films in this year's Narrative Competition were from first time directors. It's not a requirement for being programmed in the category, but it gives credence to the notion that the festival is searching out presenting storytellers with new and strikingly original voices.

    For many people, online dating is now the norm instead of something to be ashamed of. People who once…