South By Southwest: 6 more movies you should know about
Reviews of the buzziest movie premieres from the second half of the festival, including Fort Tilden, Harmontown, and Ukraine is Not a Brothel
The swarm of activity at Austin's annual South By Southwest festival has wound down, with attendees enjoying their last mouthfuls of BBQ and starting their detox back to real life.
Fortunately, the second half of SXSW was just as packed with buzzy movie premieres as the first half. (Read our guide to the movies that debuted during the first half of SXSW here.) Which movies should you keep an eye out for in the year ahead? Allow The Week to be your guide:
1. Fort Tilden
Directed by Sarah Violet-Bliss and Charles RogersStarring Bridey Elliott, Clare McNulty
What is it? The winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize in the narrative competition focuses on best friends Harper (Elliott) and Allie (McNulty), who end up on a needlessly complicated journey to the beach.
Should you see it? Yes. Fort Tilden will inevitably be compared to Girls, if only because it’s about twenty-something women living in Brooklyn. But it’s much more on par with a Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion or a buddy road trip film, as Harper and Allie both indulge their selfish motivations to go to the beach and recruit friends and lovers along the way. It’s an awkward, hilarious comedy full of quotable lines that will resonate with all kinds of audiences.
Directed by Neil Berkeley
What is it? A documentary following the brilliant but mercurial Dan Harmon, who created NBC’s Community. Harmontown takes place immediately after Harmon was fired from Community in 2012, as he takes his podcast Harmontown on a much-publicized national tour.
Should you see it? Yes. Director Berkeley offers a surprisingly moving and heartfelt documentary about Harmon, whose career has repeatedly been undercut by his self-sabotaging behavior. Throughout the doc, Harmon’s incredibly self-aware nature is reflected in his writing process, drinking habits, and relationships — in ways both good and bad. Replete with insights from his friends and collaborators, Harmontown provides a fascinating look at a complicated man who has already analyzed himself down to the bone.
Directed by David F. WnendtStarring Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse
What is it? Helen, an 18-year-old girl, longs for her parents to get back together after their nasty divorce, while exploring her own idiosyncratic views on sexuality and hygiene.
Should you see it? Absolutely. While early buzz from Sundance marred Wetlands as bizarre and crass, anyone who’s willing to be open-minded will encounter one of the most unique and weirdly joyful perspectives on female sexuality on film. Wetlands is highly explicit and shockingly visceral — at times to the point of gagging. But Carla Juri is captivating in the difficult role of Helen, depicting a sexual exploration that feels both truthful and revolutionary.
4. Ukraine is Not a Brothel
Directed by Kitty Green
What is it? Green gets the inside scoop on Femen, the Ukrainian feminist organization that has gained international fame for its topless protests.
Should you see it? Yes. Going beyond a by-the-numbers exploration of a controversial group, Green examines all aspects of Femen — first by talking to current and former members, then by diving into the group's murky origins. The movie tackles potent issues of patriarchy and commercialism, exploring how the women involved have begun to question the many contradictions that lie at Femen's heart.
Directed by Dan BeersStarring John Karna, Katie Findlay, Craig Roberts, Alan Tudyk
What is it? Premature follows Rob (Karna), a high school senior who’s under pressure from his dad to ace a college interview — and under pressure from himself to lose his virginity. When the two events collide, Rob gets stuck in a time loop, repeating the eventful day over and over again.
Should you see it? Wait for the DVD. Premature is a genial teen comedy that gets nowhere near the heights of its obvious inspiration, Groundhog Day. Karna’s adorably neurotic performance anchors the high-concept premise, but the rest of the movie hits the typical teen movie notes, so you know exactly where it’s going to go.
6. God Help the Girl
Directed by Stuart MurdochStarring Emily Browning, Hannah Murray, Olly Alexander
What is it? Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch writes and directs a musical about a girl named Eve (Browning) who uses songwriting as a coping mechanism. After moving into the city, she befriends James (Alexander) and Cassie (Murray), and the three form a band during an idyllic summer together.
Should you see it? Only if you’re a big Belle and Sebastian fan. God Help the Girl is gorgeously shot, and the music is unsurprisingly great. But the generally aimless plot — featuring a love triangle, and a girl battling her poorly defined inner demons — allows for a lot of beauty but little substance. If you want to escape into a twee indie world for almost two hours, go for it; but if you want something with more teeth, look somewhere else.