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SXSW Review: Doc of the Dead photo
SXSW Review: Doc of the Dead
by Nick Valdez

Zombies are some of the most divisive creatures in the horror genre. They've become such a big entity, the zombie film has grown into a genre all its own complete with multiple variations, multiple looks, and multiple medias. Their influence has spread through all sorts of movies, books, comics, videogames, and even television. 

Doc of the Dead seeks to document the story of the zombie genre from beginning to its undead end. Does it succeed in all the right areas? Somewhat, yes. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Joe photo
SXSW Review: Joe
by Nick Valdez

Before my screening of Joe, I wondered what kind of Nicolas Cage I'd be subject to for its duration. As good of an actor as he is, he has had a varied career. From "the bees" to voodoo make up in Ghost Rider, you never quite know what you're going to get from the man. Color me surprised when Joe forces Cage to subdue the "Rage Cage" and promptly deliver one of the finest performances of his career. 

Joe came out of nowhere to completely surprise me. It's going to be a film I remember for quite a while. It's definitely going to end up on lots of "Best of 2014" lists. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Predestination photo
SXSW Review: Predestination
by Nick Valdez

Predestination is one of those festival films that you have no idea exists but, when you finally see it, you wonder where it's been your entire life. I'm not the biggest time travel movie fan, nor do I really enjoy science fiction in general, but Predestination uses its premise to rise above the usual trappings of the genre and creates a film which is a lot smarter than I initially gave it credit for. 

I mean, it was pitched to me as "Minority Report with Ethan Hawke" and it's much, much better than that. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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Review: Need for Speed photo
Review: Need for Speed
by Nick Valdez

Need for Speed is in a tight spot. As a videogame adaptation it not only has to be a well made film, but also needs to please fans of the videogame series. It's got to do an odd little dance where it needs to show just enough evidence of its origin without it becoming overbearing or it succumbs to the same problems as other videogame movies had in the past. 

You can argue all day whether or not Need for Speed is unfairly held to a higher standard of quality thanks to the unbelievable amount of criticism videogame movies get already, but this is what we've got to work with. So I guess the ultimate question is: Does Need for Speed fulfill your needs? 

Haha, no. 

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SXSW Review: Open Windows photo
SXSW Review: Open Windows
by Nick Valdez

Open Windows was the first film I saw during SXSW 2014. I've never covered the festival before, so I had no idea what kind of features I'd end up exposing myself to. Going in I was awkward, tense, but mostly curious. As the film went on to elaborate and explore on the very nature of exposure itself, I found myself more entranced with the premise of Open Windows more so than its execution. 

But how much credit should a film get for my introspection? Tons actually. While Open Windows fumbles in a few areas, it's finely creepy, strangely arousing, but most importantly, it's compelling. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel photo
SXSW Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel
by Nick Valdez

Let me be frank. Since this was going to eventually come to light, I may as well admit I've only seen one Wes Anderson film. When I was tasked with the review for Anderson's latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I was anxious because Anderson movies are notorious/famous for their self referential humor and narrative. While I realized Budapest was essentially going to be the most referential out of all of his films, I almost backed out of this review completely. 

I'm glad I didn't because while I didn't grasp every single reference, that's not really needed. Whether or not you understand the source of every idea or decision, in a story that's essentially all about storytelling and the storytellers themselves, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a riveting marvel of a film. 

It's something I want to see again, and again, and again. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Neighbors photo
SXSW Review: Neighbors
by Nick Valdez

I had completely written off Neighbors. Coming off of Seth Rogen's last starring role in This is the End, the first trailer for Neighbors underwhelmed me. I've gotten used to Rogen acting, writing, and directing his own films so I was a little concerned when Rogen placed himself in someone else's film. Was his lack of major involvement going to impact the overall quality of the film? Should you expect less because Rogen didn't write a lot of it himself? 

Thankfully not. Even with some groan inducers, Neighbors is smart. It just needs to reign it in a bit. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Boyhood photo
SXSW Review: Boyhood
by Matthew Razak

12 years of shooting, watching every actor grow older and change along with the times and the styles. That's how long it took for Richard Linklater to create a film  about life (a boy's life to be precise). Many films have of course been made about life -- it's a pretty big topic after all -- but Boyhood has a leg up since Linklater had the incredible patience to allow his actors to grow up while making the film. It seems like a gimmick, but that gimmick is what makes Boyhood so incredibly special.

Of course filming your actors on sporadic days over the course of 12 years (39 days of shooting to be exact) is incredibly risky, especially if your movie doesn't work. What an immense waste of time and who knows what could go wrong. Thankfully Boyhood is not a failure by an stretch of the imagination, but instead an endlessly interesting study on how the banalities of life are the most important moments. 

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SXSW Review: Space Station 76 photo
SXSW Review: Space Station 76
by Matthew Razak

Space Station 76 is a bit of an odd duck. It's outward appearance of a riff on 1970s science fiction makes it appear to be an oddball comedy full of visual puns and hilarious jokes at the expense of dated future technology. The truth of the film is that its far more dark comedy than playful and its real focus is on drama and the unfulfilled American dream. Pretty heady stuff for a film whose sets look like they were ripped from the original Star Trek.

That's probably what makes Space Station 76 hard to enjoy at first. The dichotomy between the drama on screen and the ridiculously dated sets means your brain has problems putting the two together. That leads to a film that opens up to you gradually, with a beginning that feels slow, and a movie that doesn't really reveal itself in total until after you've finished watching it and had some time to digest.

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SXSW Review: Veronica Mars photo
SXSW Review: Veronica Mars
by Matthew Razak

I'm going to open this with one thing: the Veronica Mars movie was a triumph before it debuted today at SXSW. A historic film that showed that crowdfunding can launch a movie and that film distribution can be done in a different way. In the future when they look back at a key point in films getting made for less and distributing to the fans that want them they'll point here for when things really started to change.

But the movie has now debuted and people have seen it, myself included. I'll preface the rest of this review by saying that I am a big fan of the series and a backer of the film, but I'm also a film critic so I'm going to come at this thing from both aspects. So is the film itself as triumphant as its production? 

Find out below, marshmallows. 

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SXSW Review: The Desert photo
SXSW Review: The Desert
by Matthew Razak

The Desert is a strange beast. A low-budget Argentinian zombie film where the main way money was saved was by having almost no zombies in the film at all. In fact the camera almost never leaves the house the three protagonists are living in. It is a zombie movie that eschews blood and horror for character and themes.

In a genre that is quickly becoming saturated a character study is the kind of out of the box film making we need to see to keep it fresh, and that makes what The Desert is trying to do incredibly interesting, but is the zombie genre ready to branch out?

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SXSW Review: Chef photo
SXSW Review: Chef
by Nick Valdez

Before attending this year's SXSW, I had no idea Jon Favreau's Chef even existed. Given the nature of my job (as I constantly write about films months, and even years before their official release), it's rare that film goes under my radar. But when that happens (and a film goes oddly without any kind of promotion) it raises some flags. To be blunt, the films with the least promotion usually have something to hide. 

But why was Favreau's Chef so concerned? As SXSW 2014's big opening film, there was a lot of pressure to deliver, and it sort of did. It's like a greasy sandwich made with love. You know it's bad for you, but it's got a lot of corazón.

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Wetlands photo
SXSW Review: Wetlands
by Matthew Razak

Wetlands came out of Sundance with plenty of buzz for being shocking for its disturbing sexual content and brazen display of sexual acts. It was that movie every year that someone got up and walked out of because they were just so disgusted. As such it was at the top of my lists for must sees at SXSW.

Unfortunately Wetlands doesn't live up to its reputations because it completely abandons itself. As if too timid to address the very sexual abnormalities it brings up the film instead opens with everything it has and then runs to the safety of the normal before it can really start to open up.

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SXSW Review: 13 Sins photo
SXSW Review: 13 Sins
by Matthew Razak

13 Sins was the headliner for SXSW's midnight screeners. Those are the late night horror/thriller films that everyone stays up late to check out. As such I figured it was going to be something a bit special. Hell, it had Ron Perlman in it. That instantly makes it something special. It was also a remake of a pretty taught Thai film that delivered on tension and creativity.

Sadly 13 Sins only thinks it's special. With a storyline that's been played out too often and not enough fresh ideas to play it out again. Caught somewhere between a thriller and a slasher its identity gets lost in its own weird game of trying to surprise the audience. 

From March 7th - 16th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: The Infinite Man photo
SXSW Review: The Infinite Man
by Matthew Razak

Usually the first movie you watch for a festival is a bit of a let down. You're super excited for the festival to kick off and you've hyped yourself up so much that almost nothing is going to stand up to your expectations of what that first movie is going to deliver. The Infinite Man is my first movie of SXSW and I went in not really expecting one of my faves of the festival so not meeting my already middling expectations would have been pretty bad.

What I came out with was a possible contender for one of the top spots at SXSW. (Hopefully after seeing the rest that the festival has to offer it's a close competition because I'd love for all the movies to be this enjoyable.)

[From March 7th - 16th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman photo
Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman
by Nick Valdez

When Dreamworks first announced their plans to turn Peabody's Improbable History (a short which ran during The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show featuring Mr. Peabody and his boy companion, Sherman) into a full length animated film, I was a little worried that my once beloved cartoon (I used to wake up at three in the morning in order to catch reruns of it on Cartoon Network) would be run through the standard generic animated blender everything seems to go through now. Little did I know I would be so, so wrong. 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is remarkably smart, adorable, educational, referential, heartwarming, effervescent, hilarious, and even a little rude. But most of all, it's improbably entertaining.

Which is exactly the way I like my Peabody. 

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Review: Detroit Unleaded photo
Review: Detroit Unleaded
by Mike Cosimano

Detroit Unleaded is a film that you have to let wash over you. The acting isn’t stellar, and it’s a little hard to figure out who’s related to who at first, but the film gives the audience a compelling, almost voyeuristic look into the world surrounding an inner-city gas station.

It may not be the heartiest meal, nor the healthiest, but it’s filling nonetheless.

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Review: War of the Worlds: Goliath photo
Review: War of the Worlds: Goliath
by Mike Cosimano

As a 19 year old, I am well familiar with the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire. It’s a vastly underrated animated flick where a wacky crew of steampunk explorers set out to find Atlantis. You don’t need to understand the ins and outs of the plot, but what you do need to understand is the tone. The dialogue is full of character -- if not particularly complex -- and the movie seems unconcerned with making the audience think, instead choosing to provide a highly entertaining spectacle.

When consuming (because that is the correct word) War of the Worlds: Goliath, I couldn’t help but think of Atlantis the whole time. Goliath wants to have a wacky steampunk-themed crew. It wants to provide a spectacle for the audience.

It fails at both of those things.

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Review: Winter's Tale photo
Review: Winter's Tale
by Mike Cosimano

The poster for Winter’s Tale proudly declares that the film is not a true story. And brother, they couldn’t be more right.

Of all the words one could use to describe Winter’s Tale, “true” is certainly not one of them. “Nonsensical” might be a better choice. Maybe “stupefyingly inane” or “has a scene where Russell Crowe literally draws a picture of a girl with blood.” Take your pick!

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Review: Child's Pose photo
Review: Child's Pose
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

At first glance, Child's Pose is making a political statement about the class divide present in modern day Romania. The narrative of a wealthy family trying to skirt its responsibilities to a poor family is heavily charged, and for much of the film's first half, I expected to open this review with some statement about how wealth and connections in the modern age can literally let people get away with murder. 

But then things changed. The class thing became less important, and the story became a whole lot more personal, because Child's Pose isn't really a film about how much power the wealthy hold over the poor. It's about the depths of motherly love.

Or rather, motherly obsession.

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Review: Cheap Thrills photo
Review: Cheap Thrills
by Sean Walsh

Any movie synopsis that includes "black comedy" and "David Koechner" is an instant sell for me. Toss in Empire Records' Ethan Embry and the two leads from Ti West's The Innkeepers and my expectations will be through the roof.

Cheap Thrills is in turns comedic, uncomfortable, and downright disturbing. Most of the times you'll find yourself laughing, you'll also be cringing. Ultimately, it begs the question "What would you do in this circumstance?"

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Review: Endless Love photo
Review: Endless Love
by Mike Cosimano

There are few things on this planet more obnoxious than young love. By nature, teenagers are pretty unbearable, but when their hormones start going, they become even worse. “It’s true love!” they yell, as they obliterate friendships, argue with their families, and burn bridges. Put simply, watching teens in love is the equivalent of water torture.

So, by that logic, Endless Love is like 105 minutes of water torture, but at least you get to leave.

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