?*; SXSW Films (2020) -Pt2

-Film festival in Austin, TX, cancelled …
-Continuation of post: SXSW Films -Pt1

With the 2020 cancellation of the SXSW Festival (aka “South by Southwest”), I viewed selections they chose to stream through Amazon Prime Video, April 27 to May 6, 2020, free to Prime Members.

As noted, a film festival is like mining for riches, searching for nuggets, settling often for fool’s gold. Let us begin with some things that shone quite brightly:

“Le Choc du Futur” – a very well done 1970s period piece (7 stars)

In the Paris of 1978, old formulas do not charm listeners anymore and new music must arise. In a male-dominated industry, Ana uses her electronic gadgets to make herself heard, creating a new sound that will mark the decades to come: the music of the future.

A French film with a mix of English audio but mostly subtitled. I know that some film watchers cringe at having to read the text on the screen, but I like foreign films and never let that scare me. I’m happy I watched this for the pleasure of the topic, the acting, and the delightful cast of characters.

I suppose a caveat might be that this plays well for those “of a certain age.” Yet, anyone interested in Paris, music, or Bohemian characters should like this.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business (8 stars)

At 93, there’s no stopping when it comes to the legendary artist Betye Saar

I am glad to know Betye Saar through this work. Her art does not match my interests, but I appreciate that others find it artistically valuable, as in MOMA-NYC valuable. This film exhibited her history, humor, humility, and drive even more than her works.

Witty Betye quote: “I’m basically a recycler. I find other people’s stuff and junk and recycle it into my stuff and junk.”

True enough, but when Betye Saar’s “stuff and junk” makes it to art museums, it’s more akin to Cartier and Tiffany working with rocks and ore than it is to Fred Sanford’s junkyard.

Christine Turner directed this 9 minutes exquisitely. It is respectful of the artist’s own words, provides great historical context, is built with impactful imagery, and is wrapped in uplifting audio. This was artist on artist, and the filmmaker delivered a documentary that seemed perfect in every way.

I searched for more in the “direction” of Ms. Turner, but unable to find a platform to view two that piqued my interest: Rubber Soles (2005 short) or Homegoings ( 2013 doc). Enjoy her artistry through “Betye Saar …” if you get the chance.

Call Center Blues” – Deportees life in Tijuana (5 stars)

A city’s economy survives/thrives on being a call center for customer support.

There is a Chinese term, rěn shòu. This film displays that trait in people.

rěn shòu

But even at 26 minutes, it was spread too thin to sufficiently appreciate them, their history, or their work environment. It is a poignant, endearing, and welcome film effort. You still won’t like those telemarketing calls eminating from Tijuana, MX, but you will appreciate there are real people doing real jobs on the other end of the line.

Vert -Flatlined (2 stars)

… an open-minded couple celebrat[e] their 20th wedding anniversary by venturing into the Virtual world of “Vert” together. Vert presents them with a character that is their ‘ideal self’ and what is supposed to be re-awakening for them as a couple.

Remember when virtual reality was magnificently captured on film? No, I don’t either. Was “Lawnmower Man” (1992) good, or just unique at the time. Less I digress / let me address / South by Southwest / Vert: not the best.

What if VR only exposes what is around you and inside you? Not much value there, which matches my take from “Vert.” It’s a decent piece of film making with one good acting job (only one). The best part of this film was discovering the voice of Okay Kaya singing ‘Habitual Love.’ The 13 minutes spent made me feel lucky … that it wasn’t longer. 🙂

P.S. It was hard to find Vert with an Amazon search. Maybe one needs VR goggles to find it – ha! The terms that finally bubbled it to view were ‘vert kate cox’ in the Amazon search bar (Kate Cox is the director of Vert).

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