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SXSW 2008: First Night Films
pokemon
unwiredben
Three films tonight, ranging from great to irritating to offensive.

First, the great "Goliath" by the Zellner Brothers. This plays again during SXSW on Wednesday night at the Convention Center and during the day on Saturday at the Paramount, and if you're in Austin, you should try to go to a show. It's a character study of a guy who loses his wife, then finds his cat missing. He gets frustrated, tries to find the cat, gets demoted at work, and misplaces his anger on other people. At times sad, but often very funny, I really enjoyed this film.

Second, appropriately, was the well-promoted "Second Skin", a documentary about MMORPG players. It covered a lot of topics, ranging from romance, addiction, family life, suicide, gold farming, and enabling the handicapped. It really reached too far, and it felt really long even though it was only 90 minutes. They should have cut some of the material and expanded on one topic, instead of trying to be the "everything" documentary on online gaming.

Third was the midnight screening of "Otis", a horror film about a kidnapper that tortures women that tried to be a comedy and a satire. I only put it on my schedule because one of the stars was Illeana Douglas, who I loved in "Grace of my Heart" and the TV show "Action!". It didn't succeed; it had a bad streak of misogyny in the first half, followed by a revenge sequence that tried to be wacky but was way too obvious. The acting by most of the cast was good, but the material repeated itself and didn't work in any way that would provoke laughter. At an abstract level, you can say that the second half was like the situation in Iraq with the family doing awful things based on bad intelligence, but the whole setup doesn't play into that storyline at all. Don't see this. Luckily, it won't have a theatrical run, being slated for a direct-to-video release.

Tomorrow: lots of panels, a film about kids who are wizards, a film about war profiteers, and Harold and Kumar. Maybe even a party or two.
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