Day 3 of SXSW is in the books and I ended up with 4 movies for the day. I haven’t pushed it super hard this festival. Trying to enjoy myself rather than watching movies all day like a machine. Plus, I have other things I have to watch/work on for my podcast.

Anyway, let’s talk about the 4 movies of day 3:

A Lot of Nothing

Film has always been a way for filmmakers and their audience to deal with and discuss hot topics of the day. However sometimes in their zeal to be relevant they will forget to tell a good story. Such is the case with A Lot of Nothing. The film tries to talk about police violence on Black men and women and instead becomes a story about unhinged people who become less realistic with each decision they make.

The film stars Cleopatra Coleman and Y’lan Noel as a married couple who find out a cop who is unpunished for killing a Black teen lives next door. Coleman’s Vanessa decides to release her own brand of justice and abducts the man and things get crazier from there. I get director Mo McRae is going for satire but there still needs to be some believability in the character and his or her choices. Not the case here. The more bizarre especially Vanessa’s choices got the more disengaged I became as the viewer. Perhaps this will work for some but it’s a skip from me.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Thief Collector

I’m not sure why but there is something about the art world that makes for good documentaries. Whether it My Kid Could Paint That or The Price of Everything there’s something voyeuristic about diving into the luxurious world of art. With The Thief Collector we have another great example.

It’s set up like a mystery around the heist of a painting in 1985 by Willem de Kooning from the University of Arizona. The painting was stolen by Jerry and Rita Alter who seem like the ideal All-American couple. It’s only after their death do researchers find the painting but a confessional of many other pieces they stole and perhaps deeds even more sinister.

While this probably would work better as an episode of Dateline (certain parts involving a septic tank go on too long), director Allison Otto keeps things light and fun. I particularly enjoyed the intentionally campy reenactments. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in a few years we get the narrative movie version of The Thief Collector. Until then we can enjoy this engaging documentary.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Seriously Red

I consider myself a big Dolly Parton fan. She’s a talented writer, singer, actress and I just admire her as a human. Although Seriously Red is about a Dolly Parton impersonator I was hopeful it would tap into the legend’s vivacity and charm. Sadly this wasn’t the case. Seriously Red has some good performances and music but it’s brought down by a lead character missing Dolly’s charm.

In the film Krew Boylan plays a woman named Raylene or Red who begins to work as a Dolly Parton impersonator. Along the way things get messy as she has relationships with an Elvis and Kenny Rogers impersonator. Unfortunately Red is also a jerk to most of the people in her life including her long-suffering friend Francis (Thomas Campbell). She uses people when they are convenient and then spits them out when she’s done with them. In general, Red comes across more insufferable than endearing and as she is the main character of the film that’s a problem.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Millie Lies Low

Millie Lies Low is a film that does a lot of things right but doesn’t quite come together. It tells the story of Millie, a girl from New Zealand, who after missing an important flight because of a panic attack spends the day faking having arrived in New York rather than telling her friends and family she’s still in New Zealand.

Millie is played by Ana Scotney and she does a good job creating a sympathetic character that we worry about more with each scene of the film. The problem is we aren’t given enough context as to why Millie participates in this charade? Her friends and family seem supportive and friendly. Has she had panic attacks before? Also does she not want to go to the school in the US? I felt tension as she made increasingly poor decisions but again I needed more context as to why she was making such choices.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Another day at the festival has come and gone! If you saw any of these films let me know what you think! 

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