SXSW review: ‘Isle of Dogs’ a treat but hounded by some real problems

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As a movie constructed of tiny moving parts, it’s fitting that “Isle of Dogs” resonates most warmly in its quiet, little moments. There’s the scene where a recently orphaned 12-year-old boy, laid up in traction in a hospital, meets his new guard dog, who licks his hand in silence. Or a later scene when the same boy gives a biscuit to a different dog, a wary stray who’s never tasted one before. The hound is overcome. So is the viewer.

The latest from film auteur (and University of Texas alum) Wes Anderson, “Isle of Dogs” closed out the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival in its North American premiere to a packed house wearing complimentary “PRO-DOG” headbands. Set in the near future in the fictional Japanese metropolis of Megasaki City, the stop-motion-animated film tells a seemingly simple story at its heart: A boy sets out to find his lost dog, with the help of a pack of mangy mutts.

(From L-R): Edward Norton as “Rex,” Jeff Goldblum as “Duke,” Bill Murray as “Boss,” Bob Balaban as “King” and Bryan Cranston as “Chief” in “Isle of Dogs.” Contributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

The boy, Atari Kobayashi (voiced by Koyu Rankin, whom one hopes has a best friend with the last name Bass), is the ward of the authoritarian Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura, also with a writing credit), who has exiled all dogs in the city to live on the dumps of Trash Island. The reason why is all explained in an ancient legend prologue. Best not to dwell on the motives too long, but suffice it to say that the Kobayashis are decidedly cat people.

Atari’s beloved guard dog, Spots (a stout-hearted Liev Schreiber), was the first pooch to get the boot. Six months after the mayor’s decree, more dogs have found themselves subsisting on scarce garbage for food on the island, and Atari arrives in a tiny prop plane for a hero’s quest. Guiding him are Rex (Edward Norton, such a delightful drip of a dog), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), King (Bob Balaban) and Chief (Bryan Cranston), that grizzled stray with a chip on his shoulder and nose for a fight.

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As you might guess for a movie about man’s best friend, “Isle of Dogs” stands up for loyalty in all its forms: between owners and pets, or between members of a pack, or of young idealists toward their cause. When the movie puts Atari and Chief together, it charms. Cranston imbues the jaded stray with a heart-rending pain through all those bared teeth, as he learns what the most simple kinds of affection feel like. The lack of subtitling of Atari’s Japanese dialogue is also a tidy device to put an English-language viewer in the dog’s, er, paws.

Speaking of Anderson, all the director’s trademarks are here, even in miniature form: the twee musical throwback (an instantly infectious “I Won’t Hurt You” by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band), the impeccably curated tableaus, the eclectic cast of favorite players. If you’re going to go animated, why not stock up like winter is coming and beloved character actors are canned goods? Tilda Swinton’s turn as a prescient pug dubbed the Oracle is a gas, and she’s used with remarkable restraint. “Lady Bird” director Greta Gerwig gives a foreign exchange student/budding journalist/dog rights activist pleasing notes of Lisa Simpson and Leslie Knope. Heck, even Yoko Ono did some voice work in this thing.

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Much like Anderson’s previous stop-motion film, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” the intricacies of the animation are exquisite. The canine characters glow with fur-bound life. The crying effects look so good that you can tell the production team got incredibly stoked and slotted them into the movie wherever they could. You will believe a man’s best friend can cry.

Back to the language barrier. To watch the movie, you’ve got to try to wrap your arms around the cultural politics of “Isle of Dogs,” which features dogs voiced by white actors in a Japanese world and human Japanese characters mostly voiced by Asian actors. Anderson goes to pretty laborious lengths to avoid subtitled dialogue, including translator characters (one is voiced by Frances McDormand). Questions arise: Why did Gerwig’s character need to be a foreign exchange student instead of a Japanese schoolkid, for example? Expressive line readings from Rankin and Nomura constantly made me wonder what the film is like to watch if you understand both English and Japanese. I also wondered if Anderson thought about such a person at any point from concept to post-production.

“Isle of Dogs” also doesn’t really spend much time thinking about female characters, whether human or canine. Female dogs are mostly absent: There’s Swinton’s bit-part; a show dog voiced by Scarlett Johansson who only exists to service an underdeveloped romance and also get in a really lazy “bitch” joke; and another pooch that’s literally just there to have puppies. Even Gerwig’s plucky agitator has her agency undercut by a crush on Atari that’s a little cute but mostly elicits a “yeah, sure, I guess?”  If ever there was a movie you could tell had an all-male writing team, this is the one.

Actor Jeff Goldblum arrived outside the Paramount Theatre for the Isle of Dogs red carpet premiere on Saturday, March 17. The film screening was part of the SXSW Film Festival. (Photo by Katherine Fan for Austin360.com/A-List)

PHOTOS: ‘Isle of Dogs’ premiere with Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Wes Anderson at SXSW 2018

The tone trends wicked in parts, including a trash furnace cliffhanger that’s left dangling too long for anyone who actually likes dogs. It would also be naive to not view “Isle of Dogs” through a Trump-era lens, what with its executive edicts and themes of exile, press suppression and disinformation, all in the name of power. Anderson also slips in a line about staged political protests that feels scorchingly pointed in 2018 (I heard titters in the theater) but also undercut the fantasy.

Anderson attempts a lot. When its story about dogs and kids goes small, “Isle of Dogs” does quite a few good tricks.

Grade: B

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban

“Isle of Dogs” hits theaters March 23.

SXSW 2018: ‘Final Portrait’ a look at the frustrations of creating art, with Armie Hammer as the muse

“Final Portrait.”

Let’s say you’re going to make a movie about the celebrated 20th century artist Alberto Giacometti, and you’re going to set the film in his Parisian studio, while he’s painting the portrait of a young man who’s not only an admirer but also his future biographer.

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That’s what Giacometti did with the well-bred, upper-class writer James Lord, who eventually wrote a memoir about the experience, “A Giacometti Portrait.”

One of the first things you’ll need to have is a first-rate set, with detailed reproductions of the artist’s famed elongated sculptures and other items. And if you’re going to sustain the movie, you’re obviously going to have to have good dialogue. And you’ll need even more. You’ll need characters coming into the studio over and over again, gradually revealing the lives of the artist and the subject.

That’s what happens in Stanley Tucci’s new film, “Final Portrait,” which made its debut Friday night at South by Southwest. Geoffrey Rush stars as Giacometti, while Armie Hammer, fresh off acclaim for “Call Me by Your Name” and honors from the Austin Film Society, plays Lord.

To Tucci’s credit, the movie flows well. The dialogue isn’t as snappy as that in a play by Edward Albee or David Mamet, but the intrusion of characters during the portrait sessions provides lots of tension, humor and sadness.

First, there’s Giacometti’s wife, Annette, played by the wonderful French actress Sylvie Testud, virtually unknown in the U.S. despite her pairing with Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose.”

She’s a rather sad presence in “Final Portrait,” mainly because she plays second fiddle to Giacometti’s favorite prostitute, Caroline (Clemence Poesy).

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And then there’s Giacometti’s wry brother, Diego (Tony Shalhoub), who offers his own interpretation of events as they unfold before Lord’s rather stoic posing.

The heart of the movie, however, lies in the bond between Giacometti and Lord. Giacometti repeatedly paints over the portrait of Lord, telling him that it’s not right, that it’s a failure, that it might always be a failure. But Lord keeps coming back, for session after session, finally wondering when the posing and the painting will ever end.

For Giacometti, it’s a classic artistic problem – that the more one works on a picture, the more impossible it becomes to finish it.

So it’s up to Lord to figure out a way to end the sessions, without offense, without recriminations but with collegiality.

It’s a delicate minuet. And Tucci, who gets fine performances from Rush and Hammer, manages to pull it off. It won’t please the blockbuster crowd. It’s a subtle rumination on the creation of art.

“Final Portrait” premiered at SXSW on Friday. It screens again at 9 p.m. Saturday at the AFS Cinema. Grade: B

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SXSW 2018: Austin director’s ‘1985’ tells story of family and secrets during the AIDS crisis

In “1985,” adapted from his own award-winning short film, Austin-based director Yen Tan has fleshed out a poignant storyline about a closeted young Texan who returns home to visit his conservative family for Christmas.

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Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, Fox’s “Gotham”) left everything behind and got as far away from his past as humanly possible after graduation. We never see his life in New York, but it clearly has allowed him to live openly far from the judgment at home. He speaks vaguely of roommates, quietly changing the subject when asked about them or if he’s dating anybody at the moment.

“1985.”

His father, Dale (Michael Chiklis), is a gruff Vietnam veteran who works in an auto shop and, when home, is often acutely tuned in to talk radio. His mother, Eileen (Virginia Madsen), is softer and kinder in every way, admitting in a hushed conversation that she “didn’t vote for Reagan last year.” The core household beliefs under Dale are guided by religion, strict discipline and a general avoidance of secular culture. This doesn’t make things easy for Andrew (Aidan Langford), Adrian’s younger brother, who secretly listens to a Madonna cassette with headphones on and has shifted his focus at school from sports to the theater.

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Returning to Texas is not strictly about celebrating Christmas. Adrian lands back at home with a mission to finally be honest with his family, not only letting them know he is gay but to also inform them that he has AIDS. Faced with the uncertainty of their response, he instead tries to reconnect and start out with his friend Carly (Jamie Chung), someone he has had a falling out with since moving away.

Shot on Kodak Super 16 film stock, the stark black-and-white cinematography provides many shadowy shots that fall in line with Adrian’s inability to be truthful to the people he loves most. A huge part of his life is hidden in plain sight, or it would be if he lived closer. If his health wasn’t closing on him, sexuality is something that he may not have ever felt that he could be open about with them.

Smith superbly expresses the struggle of a character who is desperately trying to hold everything inside, but my favorite performance here comes from Chung. She initially has to deliver a woman who is angry with her best friend, a person whom she has known since they were 10 and has possibly loved as long. It isn’t until Adrian finally breaks down and tells her the truth about what he is facing and what he has already lost that she is able to realize that the situation is much bigger than her feelings of rejection. Even though they don’t have as much screen time, Madsen and Chiklis each have powerful moments in the script that could’ve faltered with less experienced actors.

Knowing the history of the AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s, it’s unlikely that Adrian was able to walk away with a storybook ending. Despite the subject matter, “1985” rarely dips into maudlin territory. It wisely chooses instead to celebrate unconditional love and the notion that what we have in common is greater than what divides us.

“1985” screened Friday at South by Southwest and plays again at 6:30 p.m. March 10 at AFS; 7:15 p.m. March 13 at Rollins; and 9 p.m. March 15 at Stateside. Grade: B-

SXSW 2018: ‘Lean on Pete’ shows why Charlie Plummer is destined to be a star

“Lean on Pete” tugs at the heartstrings in the best way, and most of that tugging is the direct result of the acting of Charlie Plummer, who appears poised to become one of our most versatile young stars.

In “Pete,” the 18-year-old who played John Paul Getty III in “All the Money in the World” is guided by the low-key yet distinctive British director Andrew Haigh, whose earlier credits include “45 Years,” “Weekend” and HBO’s “Looking.”

Plummer plays Charley Thompson, who’s being raised by his single father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), and the two have recently moved to Portland, Ore., because of work. Charley likes to go on runs during the summer vacation and discovers that they’re living near a quarter horse racetrack. He’s fascinated with the track and especially with a horse named Lean on Pete, who is owned and trained by the cranky Del Montgomery (Steve Buscemi).

Del notices that Charley isn’t afraid to pitch in and help in order to be around Pete, so he offers him a part-time job. While at work, Charley also meets Bonnie (Chloe Sevigny), a local jockey who is good friends with Del.

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All of this sounds fairly straightforward – and somewhat old-fashioned – from a narrative perspective. And the movie is indeed traditional. But the movie stands out from many others because of Plummer’s performance. It’s hard to watch him and not understand the loneliness and need for connection that’s just under Charley’s skin. And the scenes between Charley and the horse are classic in the way that they develop the bonding between a teen and an animal.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Charley’s home life takes a drastic turn for the worse, and then so does his life at the track. So Charley takes off with Pete on an epic journey to find his aunt – whom he has not seen in many years but remembers fondly.

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For the cynical among us, the narrative might smack of sentimentality, like an afternoon family TV movie. The cynical among us would be wrong when it comes to “Lean on Pete.” Yes, it’s hard not to shed tears throughout Charley’s ordeal, but Haigh does not hammer us over the head. Instead, he shows Charley’s resilience, his longing for love and his desire to finally find a safe home – for him and the horse.

The book is based on a novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin. He and Haigh worked on adapting it for the big screen.

But this movie is all about Plummer’s Charley. Go see it, and you’ll understand why. The guy has acting chops – in spades.

“Lean on Pete’ had its South by Southwest premiere on Friday. It screens again at 6:15 p.m. March 11 at the AFS Cinema and 2:15 p.m. March 14 at the Alamo South. Grade: B+

Netflix’s ‘The Discovery’ boasts a strong premise but weak execution

 

In “The Discovery,” released on Netflix March 31, there’s a lot of talk about people “trying to get there,” where “there” is the newly-discovered afterlife and the “trying to” part means suicide. “Trying to get there” also describes the experience of waiting for the ending of “The Discovery,” which starts off with an intriguing premise but tepidly moves toward a convoluted ending.

Rooney Mara in “The Discovery.” (Netflix)

In this sci-fi drama/pseudo-romance from Charlie McDowell (“The One I Love”), neurologist Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford, doing some of his best work within the first five minutes of the film) has discovered that there is indeed an afterlife, some other plane of existence. However, just where that afterlife is remains a mystery, one that Harbor dedicates his life to solving.

After learning of the afterlife, millions of people “try to get there” through various suicidal means. In the two years since The Discovery, the suicide rate rises by the millions. This fact doesn’t sit well with Harbor’s son Will (Jason Segel, moping more than when Lindsay Weir’s mom accidentally broke up with Nick Andopolis), also a neurologist.

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Will resents Thomas for the loss of life his research has caused. He’s on his way to visit Thomas when he meets Isla (Rooney Mara), a woman who wants nothing more than to be left alone as she tries to drown herself. Will saves her and eventually takes her in at Thomas’ isolated Gothic mansion that also houses a cult-like group of people who have been affected by suicide and help Thomas with his experiments. When Thomas finds a way to record the afterlife, Will and Isla go sleuthing to prove that the research is a fraud, and end up discovering something bigger than Thomas ever imagined.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 29: (L – R) Actor Jason Segel, director Charlie McDowell and actress Rooney Mara attend the premiere of Netflix’s “The Discovery” at the Vista Theatre on March 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Along the way, we meet Thomas’ other son Toby (Jesse Plemons), who seems to be having the most fun out of the entire cast, turning a minor part into a scene-stealer every chance he gets. We’re treated to a convoluted romance between Will and Isla. Tiny bits of the post-Discovery world are built by some terse dialogue exchanges (“I once gave a kid a cancer diagnosis, and she reacted like I’d given her a winning lottery ticket”; “I’d rather stick my [penis] in a wood chipper than go to another funeral”) and tight camerawork (a lingering shot of Will sitting in front of a hospital board with a suicide death ticker and a sign that says “Suicide is not the answer, stay in this life”; a sad overhead shot of an empty hospital parking lot). Speaking of the post-Discovery world, it’s foggy and dimly lit, muted shades of gray enhancing the film’s dreadful mood.

However, not much attention is given to the impact of The Discovery on other people, and even less attention is paid to the question of morality in life as it relates to belief in death. Not much examination is given to the question of whether life intrinsically means something even when faced with a possible afterlife. And while the promise of life after death has been the crux of many world religions, “The Discovery” skirts that issue with a handy bit of dialogue from Thomas: “Show me someone who relies on faith and I’ll show you someone who’s given up control over whatever it is they believe.” There could have been an interesting commentary here about the way many religions (some sects of Christianity chief among them) view this world as nothing more than a holding place until we are reunited with a Creator or punished alongside its adversary once we kick the bucket. Here, there’s no mention of religion or god because “The Discovery” isn’t about those questions. Once you see the ending, it’s actually about regrets and how we live (and die) with them.

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Minor spoilers follow for the ending of “The Discovery”:

All of the lofty questions above are cast aside in favor of the bigger mystery of what exactly Thomas is recording when he records the afterlife. When a person is put under and hooked up to the glorified MRI machine that Thomas uses, the afterlife they experience is indeed another plane of existence. It’s an alternate reality to their own life, one in which they can turn the tide on the biggest regret in their life on earth before moving on into their life in death. No heaven, no hell, no purgatory, at least not in the traditionally understood sense. Just a way to make amends and move on.

Later, when one last final twist is revealed, it feels cheap and unearned after the intentionally muddy and plodding plot. By the time the film ends, it arrives at what feels like a slower, more self-important afterlife of “Black Mirror,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and McDowell’s better, similarly high-concept “The One I Love.” By that point, you just want “The Discovery” to “get there” and be over.

‘The Discovery’

Grade: C+

Starring: Robert Redford, Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Jesse Plemons, Mary Steenburgen, Riley Keough 

Rating: Not rated; probably would be rated “R” for language, violence, thematic material

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Theaters: Streaming right now on Netflix 

 

‘David Lynch’ documentary has arty appeal for fans of filmmaker

“David Lynch – The Art Life.” Contributed

David Lynch no longer remains a mystery. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, but John Nguyen’s documentary “David Lynch: The Art Life,” which screened at South by Southwest, does shed some light on what led the man behind “Twin Peaks,” “Eraserhead,” “The Elephant Man” and more to begin his filmmaking career.

Nguyen takes us through Lynch’s early adolescence and formative years and his dedicated journey to becoming a painter by adhering to a philosophy of “the art life.” It’s a Beat-aesthetic philosophy that consists of painting, drinking, coffee, cigarettes and occasionally opening some time up for women, Lynch says .

“The Art Life” essentially is a feature-length interview married with a slickly produced art show — dark and comic vignettes that resonated with Lynch contributing to his creative psyche. We also get to bear witness to some making-of footage as we get to watch Lynch smear, tug and screw various materials into his mixed-media canvases high in his Hollywood Hills studio, where most of the film takes place.

Fanchildren of Lynch will be enraptured; the casual observer of Lynch’s work might find the documentary tedious and self-indulgent. However, Lynch is one of America’s last true auteurs, so Nguyen’s rendering is par for the course in its well-composed oddity. In this age of celebrity, it is refreshing that “The Art Life” sheds more light on the man’s methods and philosophy behind his artistic processes than the man himself — though the ubiquitous presence of Lynch’s very young daughter throughout the documentary as they paint, sit and listen to music together leaves more questions than answers about the enigmatic man. Intimate, yet somewhat contrived, beautiful and frustrating, “The Art Life” is still psychedelic through all its slickness.

‘As I Walk Through the Valley’ shines light on South Texas music scenes

Catastrophe performing at Trenton Point in Edinburg, Texas, in 1999. Contributed by Donner Maldonado

Along the longest stretch of international borderland in one state exists the Rio Grande Valley, where the convergence of Spanish guitar, German accordion and African-American and Anglo-European rhythms gave birth to innovative and eclectic music scenes. “As I Walk Through the Valley,” by directors Ronnie Garza and Charlie Vela, documents the power of a do-it-yourself-attitude converging at a delta of seemingly opposite scenes, creating a unity of creativity.

The work is a study of a collective consciousness, innovators asking, “Where is my place in this microcosm?” From South Padre Island to Brownsville on over through Rio Grande City, Tejano, conjunto, country, rock ‘n’ roll, punk, pop-punk, new wave, metal and soul-Chicano-funk musics and scenes converged and coexisted in the predominately Mexican-American area.

In the oral tradition of Gillian McCain’s and Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me” (1996), “As I Walk Through the Valley” is told primarily through interviews new and old interspersed with live concert footage. The documentary is a true testament to the universal language of music and the universality of how things that may seem disparate are actually deeply interwoven, unable to wax or wane without one another.

Anybody who grew up supporting or involved in a fringe music scene can appreciate “As I Walk Through the Valley,” and for the uninitiated this may be the introduction you need.

SXSW award-winning documentary ‘The Work’ will bring you to tears and embolden your spirit

Scene from “The Work.”

The thumping sounds of two hearts beating co-mingle, indistinguishable from one another, as two prisoners smother a lavalier microphone in their tight embrace. This is The Work. And the visceral scene is also the essence of  Gethin Aldous and Jairus McLeary’s documentary “The Work,” which Tuesday night won the jury award for best documentary at South by Southwest.

The Work is shorthand for the intense therapeutic sessions between prisoners and civilians that happen twice a year at Folsom State Prison in California. A group of civilians buses into the prison each day for hours-long sessions that leave the participants sweaty, tearful, broken and, in at least one case, bloodied. This isn’t “Scared Straight,” where borderline civilians get brought into a prison to learn of what awaits on the other side should they keep slipping. The men on the outside in this instance choose to enter the prison. Some, like a bearded museum associate named Chris, are looking for direction in their rudderless lives, and others like Charles are trying to square something with their past. For some, their reasoning is unknown to the audience and possibly even to themselves until a moment when the pieces come together and past trauma is unleashed in a torrent, as is the case with an intense teacher’s assistant named Brian.

Under the close watch of mentors and facilitators, the prisoners act as guides, helping the outsiders and each other let down their guards and learn to be vulnerable. You can see through the windows of this cinder-block room to the yard, where just feet away prisoners go through their daily routines of socializing and exercise. But in this room, you can almost feel the discomfort and humidity as sweat drips from foreheads; there is something of an exorcism that takes place. The de facto patients, both prisoners and civilians, aren’t lying on comfortable couches and staring at the ceiling, able to slowly work their way through a psychoanalysis session. This is four years of therapy distilled into four days, and it’s done with another man’s eyes often inches from your own, and a tribe of men surrounding you in support. Think a much more believable and visceral Tony Robbins’ session, with no thoughts of profit margins or book sales.

“The Work” opens with one of the founders, and a father of the filmmaker, we would learn at the end of the screening, leading the men in a chant that summons something primal and essential in them. The act of shouting unifies the men and dredges something from that deep place they will be asked to investigate during their four days. The goal is to journey deep inside yourself, investigate the betrayals or shame buried there, pull it out, declaw it and step unencumbered into your future with self-acceptance.

You can read the pain and fear in the faces of men from both sides, and when that history of suffering surfaces, it explodes, often in physical forms. Some of the toughest men in America, charged with intense and violent crimes, are learning to let down their barriers, and in doing so, they are teaching the civilians how to be vulnerable.

Like many great pieces of art, “The Work” deepens your understanding of your fellow man, cultivates compassion and empathy and connects you to the oversoul that runs through and around us all. As the men learn to trust the process, they learn that the only thing they should fear is the self they refuse to examine and that they often hold the key to their own liberation. When you watch “The Work,” you enter the hot, uncomfortable confines where beauty and truth are forged from the raw materials of pain, longing and the need to connect, and you leave shaken but more rooted in humanity.

For more on “The Work,” visit the film’s website at theworkfilm.com.

A buzz screening of “The Work” has been added at 11 a.m. March 18 at Stateside Theatre. 

‘Kim Dotcom’ documentary shows dark side of fight against internet piracy

Kim Dotcom re-enacts the police raid and his arrest. Contributed by Nigel Marple

Why would the New Zealand government, at the urging of the United States government, conduct a raid on the home of an accused internet pirate with a force normally reserved for someone like, say, Osama bin Laden? Annie Goldson’s documentary “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” compellingly suggests that the Motion Picture Association of America and its lobby have so much political pull that they can influence other countries’ governments to conduct illegal raids on citizens if said citizens might be disrupting their commercial enterprises.

Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz) is an infamous German hacker who made his name breaching security on the internet before anyone outside of his ilk even knew what that meant. Dotcom’s file sharing site Megaupload.com could be used to pirate (or share, depending on your point of view) original entertainment content.

In Dotcom’s case, there is no definitive evidence that Hollywood saw an overall increase in revenue once Megaupload.com was taken down; in fact, some reports suggest Megaupload.com actually contributed to Hollywood’s bottom line despite some of its users choosing to engage in copyright infringement.

Reporter Greg Sandoval sums up the situation best: “You get in between America and its money and we’re going to have big problems.”

The documentary is essentially a courtroom drama as Dotcom battles the forces of multinational interests influencing the American and New Zealand governments. The third act delves into the troubling fact that Dotcom, his family and associates were under intense personal — and illegal — surveillance leading up to the raid, something for which the New Zealand government later apologized. “Kim Dotcom” is a frightening portrait of blatant disregard for law by law enforcement and the extraordinary reach of the surveillance network of some of the most powerful countries in the world.

“Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” screens again at 11:30 a.m. March 16 at Alamo South.

SXSW 2017: Diane Lane learns to enjoy life in ‘Paris Can Wait’

Eleanor Coppola and her husband, Francis Ford Coppola, were attending the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, and they were supposed to fly to Eastern Europe afterward, where he had business. But Eleanor Coppola had a bad head cold and was worried about flying. So a business associate agreed to drive her back to Paris, where the Coppolas have an apartment, and her husband would join her after finishing his business.

But what was supposed to a drive of only a few hours turned into a multi-day trip, with her French companion making numerous stops along the way for wine, food and cultural explorations. When Eleanor Coppola told friends about her experience, they said she should make a movie.

Actor Arnaud Viard, director Eleanor Coppola and actress Diane Lane attend the “Paris Can Wait” premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Winter Garden Theatre on September 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images)

That movie is “Paris Can Wait,” starring Diane Lane as Eleanor Coppola, Alec Baldwin as Francis Ford Coppola and Arnuad Viard as the irrepressible Frenchman, Jacques.

As you might expect, the movie is gorgeous, with lush cinematography by Crystel Fournier, lavish sets and scenery that’s just about every traveler’s dream. The food doesn’t look too bad, either.

Lane’s character is actually named Anne Lockwood, and she’s in her 50s and wondering about her workaholic husband. So when a flirty business associate who eats and drinks and smokes too much agrees to show her the secrets of the French countryside, she’s intrigued but a bit wary. What plays out over the rest of the movie is a kind of delicate dance, where Anne loosens up and begins to appreciate all the attention.

I know what you’re thinking. This is a movie for older women. Well, yes, it is. But it’s also a movie for everyone who loves France, or loves the thought of getting to know France. The movie is full of joie de vivre, and it should enchant young and old, both female and male. It’s called having a life — and enjoying it to the fullest.

Sony Pictures Classics has picked up distribution rights for the film, and they’ll probably do a good job of marketing. Even if they don’t, you should go see it. A release date hasn’t been set.