SXSW 2010: The case isn't made against George Lucas; 'Amer' dazzles
Intended as an indictment of Lucas' second trilogy of "Star Wars" films, Alexandre O. Philippe's documentary speaks to a person of a certain age -- mainly in their 30s or 40s, someone who was a child when the original films were released and holds the trilogy dear to their hearts.
It's a testament to Lucas' influence that people can even be so angry about the second set of films, but unfortunately, the most incendiary aspect of the documentary is its title. Assembled from original interviews and archival footage as well as some 600 hours of fan-made tributes and diatribes, the film tilts toward an affectionate tone of reconciliation. At the after-party, there was a DJ in a stormtrooper outfit, dancing women in "Slave Leia" costumes and an assortment of Boba Fetts, Darth Vaders and more lightsabers than you could shake a stick at. The air was certainly more celebratory than angry, as if the film might represent some catharsis for those who harbor lingering resentment over Jar Jar Binks.
Meanwhile, the festival films that seemed to garner the most buzz Saturday, if party chatter and Twitter feeds are any indication, were "Cold Weather" and "Marwencol." With a line that reportedly twisted around the block outside the Alamo Ritz, the response to the offbeat detective story "Cold Weather" surpassed even the high expectations that accompanied it going into the festival. "Marwencol," a documentary by Jeff Malmberg, got people talking about its portrait of a man who builds an intensely detailed miniature city as a means of recovering from a brutal attack that left him with brain damage. People seemed to marvel at Malmberg's ability to be at once sympathetic, insightful and non-exploitative toward his subject.
For those with the stamina, there was also the U.S. premiere of the much-buzzed Belgian genre title "Amer" at midnight. A loving tribute to the Italian "giallo" thrillers of the 1970s, the film plays as more a nightmare vision of desire and fear than as any sort of straightforward narrative. With a soundtrack of music from vintage giallo scores, as well as a remarkably detailed sound mix and gorgeous use of color, the film was a heady, dazzling and disorienting way to end a long day.
-- Mark Olsen
Photo: "Amer." Credit: SXSW