In a whirlwind of enchanting technological and media-focused chaos, the South by Southwest Tradeshow (AKA “SXSW“) once again failed to disappoint loyal, die-hard film enthusiasts.
Annually, the sensational tradeshow based in Austin, Texas delivers news, discussion, trailers, and even debuts of upcoming films. Surprisingly, the films featured represent a fair distribution of both commercial and indie films. As has historically been the case with films at SXSW, 2018 once again delivered emotionally-charged media to hungry, knowledgeable audiences.
You may not have been in the audience, but here’s our take on what you should be watching based on the films at 2018 SXSW.
1. A Quiet Place
John Krasinksi hasn’t just been Jim from The Office since his film The Hollars ended up at Sundance.
In his latest stunning screenplay which he co-wrote, directed, and starred in (alongside actual wife Emily Blunt), Krasinkski has made dramatic leaps forward in his directing career. The film, a thrilling-meets-terrifying journey, follows a post-apocalyptic family struggling to survive monsters that seek noise. This masterpiece even managed to earn the coveted and rare 100% from online review critics at Rotten Tomatoes. While Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the end-all authority in film, a perfect score from this critical firm is more than enough reason to check this film out.
The film made its world premiere at SXSW this year. Critics including the New York Times, Variety, and Vanity Fair have all described the film along the lines of “impressively chilling” and not to be missed.
A Quiet Place is in theaters April 6th, 2018.
2. Ready Player One
Many cinephiles have voiced uncertainty about the wide hype surrounding Ready Player One. However, one place that has shown little uncertainty is the SXSW audiences. The film has been wildly and excitedly received by the SXSW crowds.
The movie is directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the book of the same name by then-debuting Ernest Cline, an American author. Notably, the sci-fi book was only recently released in 2011. Cline is also listed among the screenplay writers for the movie.
The storyline follows the main character, Wade, through his life in the dystopian year of 2044 (2045 in the film). In a worldwide virtual reality game, Wade searches for a hidden Easter egg that will earn him the creator of the game’s fortune.
Spielberg reported that the special effects for this movie, which create a large portion of the movie’s driving force, took two years to complete. Besides a movie thick with impressive special effects and an intact, fascinating storyline, audiences additionally seemed to cherish the movie’s jam-packed 1980’s pop culture references.
Thus far, Rotten Tomatoes has Ready Player One ranked at a still-impressive 80%.
Ready Player One is in theaters on March 29th, 2018.
Writer and director Nijla Mu’min’s debut film, Jinn, provides an explosive narrative depicting a young woman’s life in the Bay Area of Oakland. The story is loosely based on Mu’min’s own life. Teenage protagonist Summer finds her life launched into disarray not only by typical teenage angst, but also by her mother’s sudden conversion to Islam.
The focus of the film provides pivotal insight into not only Summer’s life, but also her mother Jade’s.
“It’s definitely a mother-daughter drama. From inception that’s always what I wanted to do — [explore] how this mother and this daughter are finding themselves in this new religious space with these new people around them […] Falling in love, going to work — how is this impacting them both? And ultimately how Summer is going to forge ahead with her identity?” – Nijla Mu’min, to the Los Angeles Times
Simone Missick (who plays the mother, Jade) also spoke to the Los Angeles Times and noted that her role as a woman of color meant a more focal, balanced portrayal of the life as a woman of color shown without the usual external trauma:
“So often when you see stories about women of color and young women, it’s with some trauma. They’re being abused or violated or there’s some kind of tragic event, as opposed to seeing what it is like to live in this body […] Which is universal. Because black girls are no different from white girls or Asian girls or Hispanic girls or Native American girls; we all go through the same questions of self-worth and sexuality and identity. Do we fit in or do we stand out? All of these things that we all as women have to deal with, but now you get to see it in this beautiful brown body.” – Simone Missick, to the Los Angeles Times
Though similar in style to the acclaimed Lady Bird from Greta Gerwig, Jinn provides a critical non-white perspective on growing up and the strained but loving relationship between mother and daughter. Mu’min’s training with Howard’s MFA film program and CalArt’s MFA program are evident and artistic in the (loose) application of her life story to a dramatic, fulfilling film.
Jinn currently is unrated by Rotten Tomatoes.
Jinn’s initial release was March 11, 2018.
Top Films at SXSW
Still looking for more films at SXSW 2018? The 2018 listing of films are listed here. If you’re looking for more of the best rated and received films at SXSW 2018, the New York Times has another exceptional list, as does the Los Angeles Times.
Or, let’s be honest, maybe you’re just looking for amazing film adaptations on Netflix? We got you covered.
Until next time, keep the camera and your creativity focused.