The Film Threat crew is heading out to Austin, Texas once again for the 2006 SXSW Film Festival, March 10-18. But before we do that, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of this year’s festival. This week, we bring you our SXSW 2006 Sneak Preview. And then, on March 10th, keep checking the site for our event coverage straight out of Austin. Yee-Haw!
For a band that started out as a hardcore act before moving into silly hip-hop party songs, they certainly know how to evolve. Lately the Beastie Boys have been politically active and aware, especially with their last album, To The 5 Burroughs. They reinvented the band DVD compilation in 2000, with the Criterion release of their finest music videos. It had so many cool extra features (multiple angles, commentaries, different audio tracks, etc.), no band DVD has ever come close to competing since. And just like they reinvented the DVD, “Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!” reinvents the concert film like no other before it.
The Beastie Boys passed out 50 cameras to 50 different concertgoers at their October 9th, 2004, sold-out performance at New York’s notorious Madison Square Garden. The cameras handed around were simple hi-8 cameras, which aren’t particularly known for their brilliant video quality and it looks exactly how you are picturing it to look, too. This film wasn’t made to look glamorous like countless concert films before it. Those elements help “Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!” succeed. Since all of the cameramen and women were nothing but amateurs, don’t come in here expecting Malick style cinematography. Stylistically, this film is like the “Blair Witch” of concert films.
Rick Kirkham began shooting his own video diaries when he was only fourteen years old. Over the next few decades, Rick recorded every event in his life, accumulating over 3,000 hours of footage, most of which he never even watched. By the time he was 33 years old, Rick had achieved everything he had aspired to; a reporter for Inside Edition, he spent his weekdays in New York performing outlandish stunts for a segment called “Inside Adventure” and his weekends at home in Dallas with his wife Tami and their two beautiful sons. Yet still, Rick felt that something was missing.
Filmmakers Michael Cain and Matt Radecki sifted through thousands of hours of footage to piece together the story of Rick Kirkham’s life. Focusing on a period of about seven years, the film chronicles the tumultuous ups and downs of Rick’s daily life, interwoven with the story of his intense struggle with substance abuse. The result is an unbelievably candid glimpse into the contradictions of cocaine addiction. An outwardly wholesome family, the Kirkhams suffer with Rick as he goes in and out of drug rehab programs, intermittently agonizing through periods of sobriety and spiraling back downward into addiction. The audience watches Rick’s elation as Tami conceives and gives birth to both their sons, his disappointment at having to leave them for work, and the self-loathing he feels due to his inability to stay away from drugs for any lengthy period of time.
Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick (Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, “Twist of Faith”) is our f*****g hero! And with his latest film that gives the Motion Picture Association of America a good kick in the a*s that it’s been deserving for way too long, Dick is about to become a hero to a legion of filmmakers who’ve been unfairly reamed by these bastards. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for the MPAA to get its a*s reamed by our favorite Dick. Let the cheering begin!
Hooking it up on the Internet isn’t a subject that’s foreign to indie film. I’ve seen several of these films, each at varying degrees of success in engulfing the viewer in this new cyberworld of love, but I’ve never seen one so honest and raw and, yes, absolutely terrifying as this. After watching “Hard Candy”, you’ll more than likely sprint to your computer, delete all of your profiles on Matchmaker.com, LonelyHearts.com and AssSearch.com and learn to appreciate the virtues of masturbation.
“Hard Candy” opens with the innocent meeting of two online daters. Hayley is a shy teenage girl and Geoff is a suave, handsome guy in his early thirties. This public meeting seems to be going well and Geoff appears to be a nice enough guy that Hayley decides to accompany him back to his house. The two have drinks, but, using her best judgment, Hayley does not drink anything that she hasn’t mixed herself. Geoff completely understands and to show a little faith in her, he agrees to drink one of her concoctions.
In “small town gay bar,” Director Malcolm Ingram explores the struggle for equal rights by examining a variety of issues faced by gay men and women in the South. The film is constructed as a skillful interweaving of vignettes that represent this struggle. While profiling two Mississippi gay bars (Rumors in Shannon and Different Seasons in Meridian), Ingram also discusses the recent violent mutilation and murder of 18 year-old Scotty Weaver, an out gay teen in a neighboring state; the history and eventual fate of nearby bars, such as Tulip Creek Bar in Tupelo, which was burned down by the owner in 1998; and the oppositional argument offered by the protest-staging Christian Coalition in Mississippi.
The state of discourse in modern news no longer depends on the facts, but on who can better twist them to their will. Jason Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking” provides a very observational study of the sort of rhetoric used to distort the facts and win over public opinion, but places these observations into a conventional and predictable story. Like the media that has propelled the style of communication in question, the film refuses to say anything constructive in the belief that nihilism makes it even-handed.
The film isn’t as funny as the highly publicized conflict over the sell of its distribution rights might have you believe, but does contain a series of energized and entertaining performances that stop it from being a complete failure.