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Top 5 Best Films I watched at SXSW 2014

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Okay so this was my first time ever going to SXSW film in Austin, TX.

I was stressed out in the beginning choosing which films to watch during the festival. SXSW can get pretty overwhelming especially when there are ten theaters playing for eight days, from 11am to 2am.  Below are the 24 films I was fortunate enough to see and I chose the best five to share here. Hope you enjoy!

#5 – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

My first Zellner Bros film and  it was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know what to expect from this film except the little synopsis I read from the SXSW site:

“Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped apartment in Tokyo with her pet rabbit, Bunzo. She works as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss. But on her own time, she obsessively watches a well-known American film on a weathered VHS tape. Rewinding and fast-forwarding repeatedly, she meticulously maps out where a briefcase of castaway loot is buried within the fictional film. After hours of intense research—convinced that her destiny depends on finding the money—Kumiko heads to the United States and into the harsh Minnesota winter to search for it.”

Kumiko is played by Rinko Kikuchi who also acted in 47 Ronin and Pacific Rim. Kichuki did a fantastic job drawing you into her character’s depression and solitude. The film takes the viewer on a journey from a woman’s point of view living and working in traditionalist Japan to traveling through rural Minnesota. Oh yeah Bunzo her bunny did a fantastic job too.

#4 – Creep

So this movie was not on my radar at all but everyone I met during SXSW told me to watch Creep if I had the chance. I’m so glad I fit it into my schedule. The story starts out with a videographer Aaron, played by the director, Patrick Brice responding to an online ad asking for discretionary filming service for a day. Aaron drives to a cabin in a small mountain town to meet Josef (Mark Duplass) who seems to be a regular guy at first. Throughout the film though things start to get weirder (including, but not limited to bathtub filming and wolf masks) till Aaron answers a phone call meant for Josef and that’s when strange transitions into Oh Crap! I don’t want to spoil anything so i’ll end with this; Creep has just the right suspense, peppered with little gems of laughter.

#3 – Hellion

Don’t think I’m biased because 2 of my 5 favorites from SXSW are from Texas directors. Kat Kandler did a fantastic job with Hellion and I would definitely follow this talented director’s future film career. Hellion is a story about a broken family trying to stay united. Hollis, played by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, tries his best to keep his family together but is emotionally detached from after his wife’s death. The troubled eldest son, Jacob, doesn’t help matters by encouraging delinquent behavior in his younger brother. The cinematography and the use of light in this movie was beautiful. Having an older sibling myself, I identified with Hellion’s plot on a more personal level. Many younger siblings find role models in their elders, but there comes a point when they stop wanting to be mirror images and be their own person.

#2 – Raid 2

It says a lot that Raid 2 is second on my list. I was disappointed with the pacing of the movie compared to its predecessor Raid. Where Raid felt like non-stop action Raid 2 sprinkled in more story line and didn’t feel as fast-paced, high-impact. But I forgave the director because of the superb fights in Raid 2.  Jaw dropping action.  I don’t even know how the director did some of those continuous fight shots. Amazing! Let’s end it with this; there were just too many incredible fight scenes to choose a favorite.

#1 Boyhood

The title describes this film to a “T”.  Boyhood is the  journey of a boy growing into a young man in present day America. Brilliant is the only word I can use to describe this film and pure genius can be said for the director and writer. Okay wait, maybe genius might be going too far but Richard Linklater is truly inventive to think of making a film over a span of 12 years, filming for only 3 or 4 days each year. Interesting fact  legally Linklater could only contract the actors for a total of 7 years. The ability to stay connected with the characters throughout the movie was very interesting. Other movies change actors to deal with time lines, but with this film you really get to see the development of the characters. You feel as if you are growing old with them. A sign of a great movie is when you didn’t realize that two and half hours have passed by and your butt doesn’t hurt from sitting that long.  

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I grew up on Kung Fu theater movie weekends, a lot of Top Ramen Noodles, G.I. Joe's, Evil Knivels Stunt Cycle and Stretch Armstrong. My Movie reviews and Artist Interviews have been a regular around Nerdlocker.com. Follow me on Twitter @arainbolt. or email me aaron@nerdlocker.com