2017 sxsw film festival in review

The 2017 SXSW Film Festival is over, and it was an exceptional year for an always exceptional film festival. It’s rare to attend a movie fest and leave every single screening with something to talk about, but even the movies that I didn’t love have stuck with me in some way or another. This year’s line-up was a lot of things, but boring was certainly not one of them.

So let’s recap everything we saw. Let’s run down the best films and the best performances, the movies that almost worked and the movies that barely missed the mark, the bad movies you should see for yourself and the bad movies you really have to see.

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song to song review

Late in Song to Song, a character strums an old guitar, noting that she could play the same chord for hours straight. Read it as another odd musing in a film filled with them or read it as director Terrence Malick summoning a nugget of self-awareness. Whatever it is, this moment sums up this film (and Malick’s recent output): this is the work of an artist willing to do the same thing over and over and over again, not because it makes a crowd-pleasing song, because it pleases him. These are his chords. His monotonous, frustrating, repetitive and undeniably distinctive chords.

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Song to Song trailer

Over three years ago, Val Kilmer pulled out a chainsaw at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Music Festival when he was performing on stage with The Black Lips. Kilmer wasn’t a new addition to the band gone mad or anything; he was shooting a scene for Terrence Malick‘s long-awaited upcoming film, Song to Song, previously titled Weightless. While Malick often cuts great actors out of his films, thankfully Kilmer and his chainsaw made the final cut of Malick’s new love story, which stars Ryan GoslingRooney MaraMichael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman.

Below, watch the Song to Song trailer.

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song to song

Here’s the thing about Terrence Malick: he does what he wants and really doesn’t feel the need to follow typical Hollywood norms. He’ll cut major movie stars out of his movies or reduce them to cameos. He’ll chop plot out of his stories to serve a greater emotional or thematic need. He’ll delay one of his movies just long enough that its presence on a most anticipated movies of 2016 list looks far too hopeful. Naturally, the results are always fascinating and thoughtful, if sometimes frustrating. There is no one like Malick.

And now, the next film from the enigmatic director of The Tree of Life has a new title and has released a new photograph showing off stars Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, and Michael Fassbender.

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