Tony Hawk, Kids In The Hall and More (Film Festival Send)
SXSW 2022 is underway, and with dozens of features, shorts, and episodic programs heading to Austin from March 11-20, we’re bringing you three dispatches highlighting some of the festival’s best work.
5. Very good suckers
Starting this dispatch SXSW 2022 is one of four documentaries featured here (again, the festival continues its series of incredibly curated documentary sections), and one of the real finds therein. Entitled Very good releases, the film comes from director Alice Gu and tells the story of Reuben Cox, a luthier from Los Angeles who has gone from being a simple guitar craftsman to one of the great craftsmen on the market. Told through a series of interviews with Cox himself as well as many legendary artists, ranging from Perfume Genius to Jackson Browne, who have played his guitars, Very good releases is a moving and thoughtful rumination on music, art and the power of spontaneous innovation. Without being incredibly technical or caught “in the weeds”, Gu made a wonderfully accessible, if perhaps a little too classically structured documentary that embraces the ramshackle nature of Cox’s creations (there’s a specific story in the film that delves into a guitar that sounds as if it’s made of not just different materials but entirely different parts of instruments) and turns it into a story where the beauty comes less from the music it sparks (which is admittedly quite beautiful, especially the times with someone like Andrew Bird) but from when an artist sparks an idea and follows through with it simply. So far, few documentaries in 2022 have been as enjoyable as Gu’s love letter to artistic innovation.
4. Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Drop
From a surprise to one of the most noticed documentaries of the festival. Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Drop comes from director Sam Jones (I’m Trying to Break Your Heart: A Wilco Film) and takes viewers through the life and times of the most influential extreme sports athlete of all time. With startling candor and intimacy, Jones sits down Hawk and his family, friends and contemporaries to delve not only into the career of the “Birdman” but even more into the eventful life he has led so far. . As interested in talking about his work ethic as he is about Hawk’s history with various vices, Jones crafts a deeply personal, if a little overly classically structured, narrative about one of the sport’s truest titans. Combining these interviews with compelling, never-before-seen material, Until the wheels fall is a superlative character study caught in the body of a typical sports documentary. Lived up to every ounce of hype.
3. The cow
Settling in the middle of that first SXSW expedition is the only fictional film discussed here, and one worth mentioning if only because of its superb lead performance. The cow is the first characteristic of Back home co-creator Eli Horowitz, and stars Winona Ryder as Kath, a teacher who finds herself on the road with her student-turned-boyfriend (played by the always pleasant John Gallagher Jr.). When they arrive at their rental cabin to find that there are two reservations, the pair share the night with a mysterious young couple, only to have her boyfriend seemingly run away with the much younger couple. What results is a relatively straightforward mystery that’s part cult thriller and part relationship drama, all made oddly import by Ryder’s superb lead turn. With a very well-constructed face and physical presence for this type of thriller, Ryder is endlessly watchable, infusing humanity into a character who could easily have fallen victim to the same one-note storytelling as the rest of the film. is embarrassed. Very much a ‘film debut‘, Horowitz proves to be talented behind the camera, if unable to get out of his way during some of the tenser moments, but Ryder is always there to bring the viewer back with a simple flick of his finger. eye or gesture.
2. Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets
Back to the documentaries, let’s go for the penultimate film on this first SXSW expedition, Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets. From film crew Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper, this MSNBC-backed documentary examines the rise of the now-iconic Reddit group known as r/WallStreetBets and how their support of GameStop in so many ways has broken our financial system in ways previously unforeseen. Caught in the wake of a global pandemic and with the democratization of commodity trading through apps like RobinHood, diamond hands tells an incredibly specific story of an incredibly specific moment in world economic history, and one driven by a group of Reddit users with tons of money to throw away and nothing to give away. While financial papers (even the best ones) are often stuffy, heady ruminations on late capitalism, diamond hands is a deservedly hard-hitting film, an art-pop exploration of a time when financial systems became codified around little more than memes. Canepari and Cooper deliver a high-energy work, a perfectly propulsive introduction to what has become one of the strangest moments in the history of late capitalism.
1. The Kids in the Hallway: Comedy Punks
To complete this list, there is perhaps the best documentary here at SXSW, and one of the most trending about works in general. Kids in the room: comic punks comes from filmmaker Reginald Harkema and introduces viewers to arguably the great cast of modernist comedy. Supported by new interviews with the legendary cast of comedians and never-before-seen footage of them on their journey to cult stardom, punk comedy is a classically structured, yet endlessly captivating look at Kids in the Hall, their journey from ramshackle comedy clubs in Canada to their own television series here in the United States. The interviews are intimate and often quite gripping, but as with any great bio-documentary, the archival material is what will keep viewers watching, as each new bit that appears throughout the film is funnier, more inventive and more modern than anything else. play at this year’s festival. The film doesn’t innovate much structurally or aesthetically, but as the comedy becomes less and less inventive and ultimately less interesting, seeing this troupe formulate their own voice decades before proves that they really aren’t doing them the way they used to.