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Lars’ Big SXSW Post

I have 7 minutes to write this post. Get out of my way.

I have seen more films so far than any of my colleagues here, most of whom take the sensible approach of seeing films in the second half of the festival, when it's easier to get in to the theaters, lines are shorter, the legroom situation is improved. I get it. It makes sense.

I've seen a few films I haven't liked but why go into that? The ones I've liked the most and think you should see are:

GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON (Plays again Thursday): which presents the great (and then not so great) journalist in the contaxt of his times. It doesn't mythologize or engage in easy worship. He was a complex man and a total pain in the ass. And his decline was grim and final. I have to admit, I was sick to death of Thompson and I almost didn't watch this but I'm glad I did because it is huge, it is epic and it is excellent.

WESLEY WILLIS' JOYRIDES (Plays again Wednesday and Saturday): Another big, very smart doc. There's a lot that you don't know about Wesley Willis. His music career, for instance, was kind of a jokey, grafted on appendage to his real love - drawing. He drew a lot - huge cityscapes, perspective drawings of Chicago and it's skyscrapers, with a heavy concentration on buses and trains. He was a complex man who eventually died because the people who were closest to him didn't want to give the impression of exploitating him, which left the door open for vampires. Really good doc. And one of the few "musicians with mental health issues" movies this year. Come on South By step it up!

'BAMA GIRL (Plays again Tuesday and Thursday): Not in a league with the aforementioned but pretty interesting all the same. The story of an African American student who seeks to become an Alabama homecoming queen and the highly organized resistance to it. I have to commend the filmmakers for not making the film a Michael Moore good guys vs. bad guys movie, which would have been really easy. Instead, the issues are complex and deeply rooted and the heroine is generous and thoughtful rather than combative. Unfortunately this fair-handed approach leeches a lot of the potential dramatic tension from the film, which may hurt it's prospects. Still, it's interesting as hell and I only wish I could somehow say yes and vote for Jess.

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