This year South by Southwest seemed to be back in full swing and with it came a lot of good times. This year I visited Prime Texas, courtesy of Amazon, which turned a boutique hotel into a world that promoted some of Prime’s new shows. This got my week started off right. That following night I attended the world premiere of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, where the bar there was transformed into a tavern, and I was transported back into that world. Needless to say it was a memorable experience, but what I came for was to watch movies and that I did. With that said I have compiled a list of my favorite movies I saw while attending and the ones you should keep an eye out for, so without further ado.
Story Ave : Directed by Aristotle Torres
Story Ave is a beautifully shot film that feels like story that can only happen in New York City. Giving you young Spike Lee vibes, it tells the story of Kadir (Asante Blackk), who after the death of his brother seems to be teetering on the edge of the streets. Kadir, who is a talented artist, has chosen to express that art via street art, but with that comes alliances that can take his life down the wrong path. Then during an initiation process, he holds up a MTA worker named Luis ( Luis Guzmán), that will change both their lives from that night on. Both Torres and Blackk are standouts with this film, with the story being told and a performance that screams breakout role. ( No Release Date)
Talk To Me : Directed by Danny and Michael Philippou
Talk To Me will be the next horror movie that you and your friends won’t be able to get enough of. After Mia’s ( Sophie Wilde) mother dies, she ends up spending a lot of time with her best friend and her family. At the same time there is a bunch of videos going around that has kids looking like they were possessed that seem fake, but still has captured their attention. Mia and her friends get a chance to find out themselves, a decision that they will all very soon regret. Filled with some great scares as well as some shocking moments, Talk to Me isn’t just a horror movie. It is also an examination of how we deal with grief, that just might give you nightmares. ( Release Date 7/28/23)
The Young Wife : Directed by Tayarisha Poe
When a filmmaker swings for the fences, it sometimes doesn’t work out how they envisioned it. With The Young Wife, Poe delivers a home run, with her take on a young woman (Kiersey Clemons) grappling with the meaning of love and commitment, on her non wedding day. The story takes place in one location in 2033, where the world seems to be falling apart at the seams. None of that matters though as this is a day of love, that is filled with so much color, that it ends up being a feast for your senses. Poe stuns with The Young Wife, while also giving us more reasons to love the talented Clemons, who simply shines.
( Released sometime in 2023)
Bottoms : Directed by Emma Seligman
Every high school class needs a movie they can relate to, one that just seems to speak to them. Bottoms feels like it could be that for some, as it is a comedy that will leave your sides hurting from laughing. PJ ( Rachel Sennott) and Josie ( Ayo Edebiri) are what you call the bottom of the food chain at their high school. PJ though has bigger plans and after an incident where another female’s safety is a concern, she comes up with starting a “girl’s fight club” to teach self-defense. That though is not the only reason as she also thinks it is a perfect way for her and Josie to hook up with other girls in their school. Things of course unravel, which sets up one of the crazier endings you will see in a movie this year. This is the second film from Seligman and Sennott, who brought us Shiva Baby in 2020, I only hope we get many more.
(Released sometime in 2023)
Polite Society : Directed by Nida Manzoor
I might have not had a more fun time in a theater during the festival than I did with Polite Society. Nida Manzoor’s feature debut is not just about the fun though, as there is so much more here. Ria ( Priya Kansara) has one goal in life and that is to be a stunt woman. Her passion has led her to start her own channel where she performs in hopes to get the attention she needs to make her dream come true. Ria’s sister Lena ( Ritu Arya) doesn’t know what she wants to do anymore, but does meet a guy and a wedding is planned. Ria though feels something is off and what follows is a mixture of a Kung Fu comedy action movie with a little Bollywood thrown in. All together it is the best of times, that has a little Edgar Wright vibe to it.
( Released April 28th, 2023 )
Scrambled : Directed by Leah McKendrick
Some of the best stories that are told, the story teller always has a personal stake in it. That is the case with Leah McKendrick’s film Scrambled, which is a real tour de force from McKendrick. In it she plays Nellie, who after a break up and some life reflection decides to freeze her eggs, so she can become a mother even as she ages. What follows is a comedic look at a subject that is not often talked about. It is not all fun and games though as McKendrick also gets to the emotional center of the process and when you add her performance, Scrambled becomes one of the must see movies of the year.
( Released sometime in 2023)
If You Were the Last : Directed by Kristian Mercado
Sometimes a film’s simplicity is what makes it all work and that is for sure the case with If You Were the Last. Stranded in space on a shuttle after the computer went down, Adam ( Anthony Mackie) and Jane ( Zoe Chao) pass the time with routines, dancing, and movie nights. Of course there are needs and a conversation is had about satisfying those needs, even if they both have spouses waiting for them at home. Three years though and your significant other believing you are dead might give you a pass. Mackie and Chao are simply magnetic together and Mercado lets them shine as the situation unfolds.
( Releases sometime in 2023)
These are the movies to watch out for, I would also like to add Evil Dead Rise, but I don’t need to really say much about that, because all the Evil Dead movies are great and this was no exception. SXSW was fantastic and I cannot wait for SXSW in 2024.