Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
An overview of the diverse features selected to screen at this year's Austin Film Festival.
This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist.
A cycle rickshaw, adorned with a Texas flag billowing in the wind, whizzes by while blaring a Luke Combs tune. Massive murals of Willie Nelson and Post Malone gaze down on passersby like the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. A man in a Blue Lives Matter shirt waltzes past a "PROTECT TRANS KIDS" sign planted on the lawn of a Catholic Church. Welcome to Austin, Texas, a Southern hotspot that, for the final weekend of October 2023, wasn't just home to these and other oddball sights, but also the backdrop for the 30th edition of the Austin Film Festival. Though not as world-famous as the Toronto International Film Festival or Cannes, Austin's annual ode to cinema is still a much-ballyhooed event attended by freelance journalists, aspiring screenwriters, iconic filmmakers, and everyone in between. Continue Reading →
Moulin Rouge! may be one of the most artificial films committed to celluloid. At every turn, it uses sound, color, setting, camera tricks, and good old-fashioned deception to create space between the audience and the material. And yet it ends up being as naked and guileless an ode to love as any movie of its era. Continue Reading →
We Need to Do Something
Sean King O'Grady directs a claustrophobic horror film that has a lot of potential, but just misses the mark.
We Need to Do Something, the debut feature from Sean King O’Grady, is a horror film that can easily be read on two different levels, though your mileage with it will vary depending on which one you choose to follow. As a straightforward horror yarn, albeit with moments of grotesque black humor thrown in from time to time, it contains a few interesting elements but never finds a way to pull them together into a completely satisfying whole. On the other hand, if one regards the whole enterprise on a more overtly symbolic level, it gains a little more in terms of power and effectiveness.
Yet, even then it also tends to lose its way especially once the fairly potent central metaphor gives way to less interesting instances of bloodshed. In either case, it ends on such a clunky and ineffective note that viewers may get the sense that O’Grady and screenwriter Max Booth III have just been screwing with them, a feeling enhanced by the all-too-apt choice for a key musical cue towards the end. Continue Reading →