Familial deception is at the heart of Austin-based film ‘La Barracuda’

Sinaloa (Sophie Reid) and Merle (Allison Tolman) in “La Barracuda.” Contributed by Patrick Rusk

This new thriller from Austin-based directors Julia Halperin and Jason Cortlund (“Now, Forager”) is built around a concept that really intrigues me – people leading double lives.

Wayne Klein had a wife and daughter at home in Texas but toured all over the world and enjoyed a few extracurricular activities along the way. Over the years he harbored a big secret that comes to life after his death; he actually had fathered a child with a woman from England and would visit this second family when he was overseas playing shows. “La Barracuda” picks up with Sinaloa (Sophie Reid, “Game Of Thrones”), the secret British daughter, making the trek to the United States and showing up on the door of her half-sister Merle (an outstanding Allison Tolman from FX’s “Fargo”) in Austin.

Sinaloa is blunt and gets right to the point. She ambushes Merle and her fiancé Raul (Luis Bordonada) on their front porch when they come home one evening in the dark, revealing who she is without hesitation. It’s clear to see that it’s a painful revelation for Merle, who is hesitant to accept this information about her late father as the gospel truth. Raul insists that they put her up for the night because she is family. But how can they know if that’s true? Hearing Sinaloa singing some of Wayne’s songs goes a long way towards convincing Merle that the story could be legitimate, but it opens a Pandora’s box that changes her life forever.

As Sinaloa is introduced to extended family members at an engagement party, her presence becomes quite a point of conversation and interest. This goes double for Merle’s mother, Patricia (delightfully played by JoBeth Williams), who isn’t actually very pleasant to her own daughter, never mind the secret offspring of her late husband. A relative at the party pulls Sinaloa aside and offers to help her investigate inheritance issues if she’s so inclined, which further blurs the line about what her intentions really are.

In their original fundraising campaign for the movie, the filmmakers stated, “At its core, ‘La Barracuda’ is a story about the conflicting loyalties between mothers, daughters, and sisters.” Slowly but surely, Merle’s perfectly curated existence is thrown out of whack by Sinaloa’s antics. Memories are conjured and questioned. An already strained relationship with her mother is pushed to the limits.

I was utterly enraptured by the first act of this film, completely taken by the story, the actors, and the familiar setting. Halfway into the picture, I was unsure of where things were going but thought I was ready for anything. Despite an enormous amount of foreshadowing, the film’s final third moves towards an abrupt twist that made me flinch but feels undeserved.

In the end, “La Barracuda” really does deliver on the music. Sinaloa’s performances (including some tracks live at the Saxon Pub) are really beautiful and heartfelt. And there’s a lot of traditional Texas music and artists in the film like Colin Gilmore, Butch Hancock, and the Harvest Thieves while Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw delivers a moody score.

 

“La Barracuda” screens again at 8:30 p.m. March 17 at the Alamo South Lamar.

Ten takeaways from “Made in Austin: A Look into Song to Song” at SXSW

http://players.brightcove.net/1418563061/S15Aq3t8_default/index.html?videoId=5355819236001

 

Holy cats, there he is: Director Terrence Malick, one of the most private filmmakers of his generation, hanging out on stage with Richard Linklater and Michael Fassbender, the latter a star of Malick’s “Song to Song,” chatting Saturday morning at South by Southwest.

REVIEW: The gorgeous ‘Song to Song’ has little to do with music or Austin

PHOTOS: ‘Song to Song’ red carpet at the Paramount Theater

The original cut was about eight hours long. “There was no part of the shooting day that was idle,” Fassbender said. “If we were on the way to a location, we were shooting on the way to the location.”

On finding the character as one goes and the improvisational nature of the shoot. “I like not having lines to learn.” Fassbender said. “It’s a very liberating thing when you’re not carrying dialogue. It’s very hard not to load an intention if I am getting lines as I go.”

From left, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling star in Terrence Malick’s “Song to Song.” Contributed by Van Redin / Broad Green Pictures

Sometimes, Malick is shooting something that is not the actor. “I’ll be acting my socks off and Terry will be filming a beetle,” Fassbender said.

On setting his films now rather than in the past.  Malick said he was a bit timid at setting his films in the present. “(One struggles to find) images you can use that haven’t been a part of advertising,” Malick said. “But then you find there are as many today as there were in the past.”

The original title was “Weightless.” “We had a title card from Virginia Woolf at the beginning,” Malick said. (“How can I proceed now, I said, without a self, weightless and visionless, through a world weightless…”). This ended up still being a bit of a theme.

On having, as Linklater put it, “punk rock elders” in the film. “I was trying not to be overwhelmed by these rock gods,” Fassbender said, “but I do remember that both Patti Smith and Flea, you would put the camera on them and words would just flow out. And then all of the Chili Peppers beat me up.”

Fassbender wishes there was more Val Kilmer kept in. “I was hanging on by my fingernails,” Fassbender said. “He is a force. To be in (this kind of movie), you have to be prepared to fall on your face over and over again all day. That is what I found so impressive about Val.”

On Fassbender maybe directing. “I would like to direct,” Fassbender said. “What would I like to direct? Something contained.” Which this film was not.

“I have no idea when,” he continued. “Starting as an actor, I found I was so focused for so many years on getting an opportunity to work, then focused on getting a lead role. (Now that he has done both of those things) I’ve started to enjoy more and more the collaborative process, the idea that you get the bunch of strangers together and get it to gel.”

On Austin changing. “Your film is already a period film,” Linklater joked. This is actually true, as Malick noted — Alamo Drafthouse South looks totally different now.

Linklater and Malick versus the movie: “Everything you see is the tip of the iceberg (for these characters),” Linklater said. “(To see these movies), I think it just adds a depth, a poetic memory feeling.”

In seeing the bits of pieces of their lives, Malick said, “It’s like the dialogue in the movie, ‘Can you live in this world moment to moment, song to song, kiss to kiss.’ It’s a hard thing to convey.”

 

 

 

 

New details about Terrence Malick’s Austin music scene movie

Remember when Texas filmmaking legend Terrence Malick was seen filming in and around such events as South by Southwest and Fun Fun Fun Fest a few years back?

Well, that was for a movie we now know, thanks to a piece on IndieWire, is called “Song to Song,” which will be out March 17 (which seems to make it a mortal lock for a SXSW screening).

Here is the premise, according to IndieWire:

“In this modern love story set against the Austin, Texas music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress whom he ensnares (Natalie Portman) — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.”

The sharp-eyed might recall seeing Mara, Gosling and Fassbender in and around Fun Fun Fun in 2012. And that Val Kilmer guy.

Rooney Mara (left), Val Kilmer (center) and Black Lips guitarist Cole Alexander on the Blue Stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest on Nov,. 2, 2012. (photo: Pooneh Ghana)
Rooney Mara (left), Val Kilmer (center) and Black Lips guitarist Cole Alexander on the Blue Stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest on Nov. 2, 2012. (Contributed by Pooneh Ghana)

 

 Look for Patti Smith, Lykke Li, the above Black Lips, Iggy Pop, Florence and the Machine and more in the film.