An embarassment of riches: Wells Dunbar presents a great selection of online viewing tips, so you can see what he saw at South by Southwest.
To those from out of town, one of SXSW's coolest aspects has got to be seeing Austin's eclectic mix of movie theaters. The grand, two-story Paramount, refinished in the elaborate, turn-of-the-century style it was originally built in; the Dobie Theater, inauspiciously tucked in a mall near campus, but featuring theaters with library, Egyptian, gothic and art deco motifs; and of course, the Alamo Drafthouse, one of the few places in the country where you can get a pitcher of beer, a burger, or pizza with your flick. But the Alamo's also remembered for their mind-bending pre-show, where a barrage of forgotten trailers, TV clips, cartoons and commercials hover on the screen, along with various and sundry other bits of cinematic detritus.
It's a perfect place to see a shorts program. The Animated Shorts program played there Sunday, a uniformly selective and polished collection. And instead of waxing rhapsodic about the program - and Music Videos, and Experimental Shorts - your humble narrator will instead deliver a brief synopsis, followed by a link to the short, or a trailer. Ain't the Internet great?
o "Loom" is a measured, morbid contemplation on death and the fabric of life. A 30-second clip is available at animator Scott Kravitz's website here
o From the MILK film team of Sean Pecknold and Matt Daniels, "When You Grow Up," a retro-futuristic re-imagining of the Magic Beanstalk tale, told with an Asian cast. Full short available.
o Also in the Eastern vein was "Kuro Komo," a hypnotic tale where the animation veers from the present to the narrator's violent, visceral dreams of a samurai past. Preview clips can be seen here.
o "One Rat Short" was one of few solely CGI entries, and a standout due to its seamless animation, breakneck pacing and bravura set-pieces worthy of a Bruckheimer blockbuster. A street rat accidentally breaks into a rodent laboratory, setting frantic and surprisingly affecting actions into motion. Watch the trailer.
o The charming Adicolor "Red" clip details the hidden history of the color, in quirky, hip fashion. What else would you expect from Roman Coppola and Andy Bruntel? Clip here.
Bruntel's hipster fingerprints are all over the SXSW Music Videos collection. He helms the Bonnie Prince Billy "Cursed Sleep" clip. This video for folkie and actor Will Oldham's alter-ego is a wood-paneled fever dream, with Oldham finding trouble and redemption in the birding community. Hilarious and disturbing. View.
Bruntel also co-directed Stephen Malkmus' "Baby C'mon" - a hilarious stop motion tour-de-force for the former Pavement frontman: View.
More music goodness:
o Laura Veirs, "Secret Someones"
An affecting, lo-fi travelogue, set to a wistful, ebullient piece of indie pop: here.
o Constantines, "Working Full-Time"
Seamless blend of stop-motion with what looks like subtle CGI. Too bad about the Dire Straits-esque tune: view.
o The Blood Brothers, "Set Fire To The Face On Fire"
The Brothers' spastic screamo recieves a perfectly messy visual compliment: here.
o Flipron, "Raindrops Keep Falling on the Dead"
A sexy and sly animated video.
o Thom Yorke "Harrowdown Hill"
An unsettling assemblage of news footage, distorted landscapes and animation mirrors Yorke's dystopian vision (Sorry about the YouTube link, but all the Quicktime links are down): YouTube.
o The Octopus Project, "Music Is Happiness"
These Austin electro-instrumentalists star in this charming, 8-bit disco clip.
o The Heathens, "Stickin' Around"
This alt-country anthem was accompanied by the most mind-bending video, simple but expertly executed: one continuous mirrored take, the psychedelic geometry accentuated by the leaves and branches of the swamp setting: here.
The Fantacine film collective, responsible for the Heathens clip, also had an entry in the Experimental Shorts program, "The Lonely Lights. The Color of Lemons," exploring memory and teenhood in a thoroughly fractured, subjective fashion. The indie soundtrack and colorful inter-titles made it one of the showing's more accessible entries: clip.
o The charming "Les Malaventures de Zut-Alors," a faux-French confection from UT grad student Jeanne Stern, uses paper puppets to tell its tale of these day-and-night conjoined siblings. Clips are available here.
o "Hinge" is three awesome minutes of worshipful, inane adoration for, yes, the hinge. Clip here
Report by Wells Dunbar