Alex Pelham

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bob Byington

SXSW Film is a force to be reckoned with. It's more than a week of premieres, exclusive screenings, comedy, horror and everything in between. The Texan's veteran movie reviewer Alex Pelham has committed to gluing his eyes to the big screens across Austin, taking in as much as he can, so that you don't have to . Armed with our reviews, you can be a little more selective when you head to the theaters.

Below, you'll find a comprehensive list of all the Texan's movie reviews we've written during SXSW 2015. Read them, and let us know: Do you agree? Disagree? Did we miss anything particularly wonderful? Let us know by tweeting at @thedailytexan, and find Alex for more in-depth movie reactions at @talkingofpelham

The Final GirlsAs Joss Whedon’s “Cabin in the Woods” has demonstrated, the concept of a “meta-horror film” works. With its hilarious insight into campy horror flicks and its strong, emotional characters, “The Final Girls” exceeds expectations of a growing genre. Read more here

Manglehorn“Manglehorn,” starring Al Pacino, is a slow slog of a film. The narrative is hazy and unfocused, and the film tries to be artsy with its grating narration and odd, gimmicky editing. Read more here

Ex Machina“Ex-Machina” is a film that plays with the idea that there is a muddled difference between human and machine. The film is brilliantly tense, with chilling performances by all the lead characters. Read more here.

A still from "Ex Machina," a thriller about the limits of Artificial Intelligence.

Courtesy of A24 Films

He Never DiedNever before has a film featured a vicious cannibal who seems so pleasant. The film serves as an excellent noir with great characters and fun, over-the-top action. Read more here.

My Name is Doris“My Name is Doris” proves that it’s impossible not to love Sally Field. The film also brilliantly mocks the common stereotypes of the hipster culture. Read more here

SpyIt seems obvious that “Spy” was produced as a star vehicle for comedian Melissa McCarthy. Reteaming with writer and director Paul Feig, whose gut-busting screenplay propels the film to extraordinary levels, the actress finally steps into a leading role that allows her to use her personality to mock the spy film genre. Read more here. 

A still from "Spy," featuring Melissa McCarthy.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Heaven Knows What​“Heaven Knows What” does the job that numerous DARE programs failed to do. It shows just how drugs can destroy lives and reduce people to soulless streetwalkers that only submit to bags of heroin. The actors do a fantastic job displaying the desperation of these characters. Read more here.

The Invitation“The Invitation” starts off really slowly and focuses on social anxiety and the uneasiness of being in an enclosed space with strange people. It’s not until about the last 15 minutes that the film shift gears and turns insane. Read more here.

 Courtesy of Gamechanger Films

Get Hard“Get Hard” takes a tried-and-true premise, one where a satisfied, upper-class weakling is sentenced to a long stint in prison, and drives it mercilessly into the ground. Leading men Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart clearly deserve better than this unfunny buddy-comedy. Read more here.

Wild Horses“Wild Horses,” the latest offering from director and actor Robert Duvall, attempts to capture the essence of the Texas spirit while juggling a dark crime-drama at the same time. Most of the actors manage decent performances, but an unfocused story weighed down by unnecessary subplots ultimately results in an unenjoyable, disjointed film. Read more here.

Courtesy of Patriot Films

7 Chinese Brothers“7 Chinese Brothers” is one of those films that focuses on its central character so much that it seems to lose interest in its plot. This wouldn’t be a major an issue if that character was interesting. Read more here.

LambLamb's discomforting premise will make audiences think about unusual bonds, and the brilliant performances from its lead actors will further leave you questioning your own convictions about love. Read more here.

Ava's Possessions“Ava’s Possessions” has a brilliant premise, one which explores the consequences of someone who has undergone demonic possession. Unfortunately, the actual story fails to live up to such an original setup. Read more here.

Courtesy of Off Hollywood Pictures

Creative Control“Creative Control” is a wonder visual experience. The big issue with the film is that the characters feel unengaging. It’s difficult to connect with them, as their personalities are easily overshadowed by the tech that they wield in their hands. Read more here.

The BoyDirector Craig Macneill tries his hardest to make the disturbing transition the titular character in “The Boy” undergoes very subtle. The trouble is, that transition is too subtle. Though the acting is remarkable, “The Boy” dives into a dull tale of a boy who experiences an unconvincing transformation into a vicious creature. Read more here.

Manson Family Vacation: “Manson Family Vacation” uses the story of infamous criminal Charles Manson as a backdrop for a surprisingly poignant tale of forgiveness and reconciliation. Director J. Davis incorporates a critique of the idolization of horrific people but focuses more on the characters than on Manson himself.

Courtesy of Logolite Entertainment

After a full week of SXSW, our reviewer is finally going to get some rest. He'll be back reviewing movies soon — follow him at @talkingofpelham, and look for his regular movie reviews here.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of 108 Media | Daily Texan Staff

Our movie reviewer, Alex Pelham, is tackling SXSW's film offerings as aggressively as humanly possible. He'll glue his eyes to screens for hour after hour so that you can be a little more selective when you head to theaters. Below are his reviews for "Heaven Knows What," "He Never Died" and "The Invitation." Do you agree with what he has to say? Send him your thoughts via Twitter at @talkingofpelham.

Heaven Knows What

“Heaven Knows What” does the job that numerous DARE programs failed to do. It shows just how drugs can destroy lives and reduce people to soulless streetwalkers who only submit to bags of heroin. The film has a gritty feel to it, and the sprawling, dirty New York setting helps illustrate the sheer hopelessness of these young people. The actors do a fantastic job displaying the desperation of these characters.

The film does have weak points. It’s a character study which mostly focuses on an addict named Harley, which means that the majority of the film follows her daily routine and her interactions with her fellow junkies. A lack of motivation or goal (besides getting drugs and hooking up with a sadistic boyfriend) makes the film a bit of a chore to sit through. The overall effect is uncomfortable and horrifying, which is what the director was probably gunning for.

Rating: 7/10 Throwing Stars

Watch the trailer for "Heaven Knows What" here:

He Never Died

Never before has a film featured a vicious cannibal who seems so pleasant. Jack is shown to be a gruff, quiet man who eats in his regular spot at a local diner and indulges in bingo. Occasionally, however, he tends to give into his habit of consuming flesh and brooding about the fact that he is an immortal being. The film serves as an excellent noir with great characters and fun, over-the-top action.

While “He Never Died” is bloody and quite brutal, director Jason Krawczyk makes sure to make certain areas funny and light-hearted to keep it from becoming a brutally depressing drag. The best parts focus on the relationship between the stoic Jack and Andrea, his bubbly, teenage daughter. The two play off each other wonderfully. The film also features great action and has enough broken bones and bloody noses that leave midnight moviegoers satisfied.

Rating: 8/10 Bingo Cards

Watch a clip from "He Never Died" now:

The Invitation

“The Invitation” starts off really slowly and focuses on social anxiety and the uneasiness of being in an enclosed space with strange people. This is illustrated when a man attends a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her odd, new significant other at the house where his young son died. The majority of the film deals with the man’s paranoia and the horrific possibility of what could happen. To him, every weird activity planned for the guests deepens his suspicion and makes him wonder if he can figure out the hosts’ endgame before time runs out.

It’s not until about the last 15 minutes that the film shift gears and turns insane. This dramatic climax is the resolution for nearly an hour of buildup and worth it for the most part. It’s quite jarring to see the film switch pace so suddenly, but the tension and the clever ending make the journey worth it.

Rating 6/10 Red Lanterns

"The Invitation" centers around one man's experience at a dinner party. Image courtesy of Gamechanger Films.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

South By Southwest 2015 is nearly over — today is the last major day of the weeklong marathon. Follow us here as we continue to live-blog the best and the worst of what SXSW has to offer. For minute-to-minute coverage, follow us on Twitter at @thedailytexan. Want a recap of Friday at SXSW? Check out our coverage on yesterday's blog.

Updated (9:23 p.m.): South By Southwest means a lot of things — music, celebrities, long lines everywhere you turn. For the staff on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, South By means a (sort of) vacation.

Bryce Quig-Hartman is one of the on-board engineers aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Graeme Hamilton | The Daily Texan

Updated (7:25 p.m.): 

Rapper and actor Snoop Dogg gave the SXSW Music keynote speech Friday morning. Snoop preached an ethic of hard work and respect. Michael Conway | Daily Texan Staff​

Updated (3:15 p.m.): After spending hours and hours in a variety of theaters across Austin, our movie reviewer, Alex Pelham, is finally finished. Check out his final review, of the unusual and suprisingly funny "Manson Family Vacation," here.

Courtesy of Logolite Entertainment

Want to catch up on all our SXSW movie reviews? We've compiled them all in one easy-to-browse list. Enjoy — and once you've seen the films, let us know what you think! Follow Alex on Twitter at @talkingofpelham and read his regular movie reviews here.

Updated (2:43 p.m.): "The Boy," the latest offering from director Craig Macneill, tries to subtly document a child's descent into a vicious creature. The problem is, his approach is too subtle — resulting in a totally unconvincing plot. Although the performances are great, the movie itself is dull. Read our full review of "The Boy" here.

Updated (2:14 p.m.): If there’s one thing MTV’s Woodie Awards can almost guarantee their audience, it’s variety. The Woodie Awards, which recognize the best in music as voted by college students, made a splash at SXSW on Friday night. Click here to see some of the night's big winners — including Fall Out Boy, Childish Gambino, Hoodie Allen and Taylor Swift.

Rapper Big Sean performs at the Woodies on Friday evening. Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff​

Updated (1:34 p.m.): It’s Saturday, which means the time to go home and rest up is drawing near. But before that dreaded Monday begins, there are still plenty of people to see. On our schedule today:

  • Christine and the Queens — French indie-pop singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier, who self-describes her music as “freakpop,” performs at Empire Garage
  • When: 10:00 p.m. – 10:50 p.m.
  • Age Restrictions: 21+

Marina and the Diamonds — Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis performs her indie-pop, new wave music at Empire Garage

  • When: 11:00 p.m. – 11:50 p.m.
  • Age Restrictions: 21+
  • MS MR — Indie-pop, New York-based duo Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow perform at Empire Garage
  • When: 12:00 a.m. – 12:40 a.m.
  • Age Restrictions: 21+
  • For live-tweets from the concerts and from downtown in general, follow us on Twitter at @katclarksamp and @ldlopz. We'll be tweeting to the very end.

Updated (12:04 p.m.):

SXSW volunteer Bianca Benavidez watches crowds downtown on Friday evening. SXSW-goers had to deal with rainfall on Friday, but this didn't deter massive crowds and lines. Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (11:36 a.m.) Our intrepid movie reviewer, Alex Pelham, is finally winding down his thorough examination of all SXSW Film has to offer. To read his reviews of "Ava's Possessions" and "Creative Control," click here.

Courtesy of Ghost Robot Films 

Updated (11:25 a.m.): Weather Report

Good morning, slightly-damp festival-goers! And good news for those of you who like rain: You'll be seeing more of it today. Temperatures will linger in the low- to mid-60's for the rest of the day and into the evening, with scattered showers and bouts of drizzle between now and about 4:00 p.m. Austin is technically under a flash flood warning that's set to expire at 7:00 p.m. Want more? Check out the full forecast here.

A street performer plays the drums on Sixth Street on Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of this week, we'll be live-blogging South By Southwest — the good, the bad and the outrageously hip and sweaty. Follow Daily Texan reporters, photographers and editors as we post the highlights of our work here. For minute-to-minute coverage of the best and the worst that SXSW has to offer, follow us on Twitter at @thedailytexan. Want a recap of Tuesday at SXSW? Check out our coverage on yesterday's blog.

Updated (11:33 p.m.): Our devoted movie critic, Alex Pelham, spent the day with his eyes glued to screens, taking in all that SXSW Film has to offer. Read his reviews and inform yourself, so that you can be a little more selective in your viewing choices. Click here to read his reviews of "Heaven Knows What," "He Never Died" and "The Invitation." If you're interested in cannibalism, dinner parties or heroin, we'll definitely have something for you. If you aren't — well, read it anyway.

Updated (7:52 p.m.):

Laura Marling, a folk singer-songwriter from England, performs at the Radio Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center on Wednesday. Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (7:43 p.m.): A trio of traveling gypsy musicians has made Austin their temporary home this week. With cigarettes dangling loosely from their lips, D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers flooded the corner of 6th and Congress with a type of music they call “dirty gypsy blues.” Click here to read more about the trio's journey to Austin for this year's SXSW.

Updated (7:32 p.m.): 

A woman enjoys the festival atmosphere on Sixth Street Wednesday afternoon. Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (5:24 p.m.): Folk rock singer-songwriter Laura Marling is Twiggy if Twiggy could play with the ferocity of Alanis Morisette. The British darling performed a seven-song set as a part of Santa Monica radio station KCRW’s Radio Day Stage on Wednesday. Her vocals were flawless, but her stage energy was lacking. For a full review of her performance, click here.

Updated (5:02 p.m.):

Guests at "YouTube at Coppertank," a party on Trinity Street, stand inside a frequently updated TV tunnel Wednesday afternoon. Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:11 p.m.): South By Southwest: the the days are long; the lines are longer. Are you eating? More music means later nights, so make sure you're keeping your stomach happy and your body prepared. Here are six great, nearby options for refueling.

The German folk duo Milky Chance performs at the Austin Convention Centeron Wednesday. Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (1:40 p.m.): The music portion of South By Southwest is in full swing, so you'll want to make a thoughtful decision about where you'll spend your day. If you'd like to stick with one of the main venues, here are two of your best options — whether you're 21+ or still waiting for that critical birthday. Reminder: Venues will take general admission attendees, but badge and music wristband holders get priority access.

All ages – Stubb’s

NPR Music is hosting tonight’s line up at Stubb’s. The venue, located on the corner of Eighth Street and Red River, is an Austin favorite serving up the best music of the festival. Californian rapper Boogie starts the night off at 8 p.m. followed by Shamir, folk rocker Courtney Barnett, French hip hop artist Stromae and rock and roll band TV on the Radio.

21+ – Clive Bar

If you find yourself hanging around the Rainey Street area, check out Clive Bar. Music begins at 2 p.m. but the show really gets started at 9 p.m. with R&B hippie Elliphant. Punk rock band The Cribs come on at 10 p.m.,  alt-pop duo Ms Mr come on at 11 p.m., and the night ends with British rockers The Vaccines.

Kat Sampson

​Perfume, a Japanese pop band, performs at Highland Lounge on Tuesday evening. Lauren Ussery | The Daily Texan

Updated (1:17 p.m.): Good afternoon, festival-goers! We hope you all jammed out beautifully last night. We're gearing up for a music-heavy Wednesday, but you can also look forward to photos, movie reviews and snapshots of easy-to-overlook parts of the festival. Our official schedule for today:

  • Laura Marling — The folk singer-songwriter from England performs at the Austin Convention Center.
  • When: 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Age Restrictions: None
  • Milky Chance — The German folk duo Clemens Rehbein and Phillip Dausch perform at the Austin Convention Center.
  • When: 4:00 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.
  • Age Restrictions: None
  • NPR’s Showcase — Belgian hip-hop and electronic artist Stromae, also known as Paul van Haver, and indie-rocker Courtney Barnett perform at Stubb’s.
  • When: 7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
  • Age Restrictions: None
  • Future Islands — The synthpop band from Baltimore performs at Mowhawk.  
  • When: 1:00 a.m.
  • Age Restrictions: None

Updated (12:32 p.m.): Weather report 

If you’re scared of sunburn, good news: Today will be another warm, cloudy day. Temperatures are set to linger in the low 70s and high 60s through the rest of the day and into the evening. There may be some sporadic rainfall around 5:00 p.m., but it won’t be anything you need to take too seriously. To read a more in-depth forecast for Wednesday, click here.

Updated (12:16 p.m.): It's Wednesday, March 18, which means you've officially survived half of South By Southwest. Congratulations! You're officially a pro. But if you're starting to get a little weary, or you need a change of scenery, that's normal too. Get out of Austin, and check out one of these iconic Texas towns to take a break from SXSW. They're all less than two hours away and guaranteed to provide you a nice change of pace.


Dichroic glass finish film by 3M covers the ceiling of their booth at SXSW. They also had a photo booth, live DJ, and and refreshments.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of this week, we'll be live-blogging SXSW — the good, the bad, and the outrageously hip and sweaty. Follow Daily Texan reporters, photographers and editors as we post the highlights of our work here. For minute-to-minute coverage of the best and the worst that SXSW has to offer, follow us on Twitter at @thedailytexan. Want a recap of Saturday at SXSW? Check out our coverage on yesterday's blog.

Update (7:30 p.m.): “House of Cards” showrunner Beau Willimon spoke about how he adapted the Netflix show from the popular British series and offered advice to up-and-coming directors, writers and producers. The discussion, held in the Capital Ballroom B at the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, was light-hearted, and Willimon kept the crowd entertained with a constant stream of jokes.

“First I’m going to do forty-five minutes of transcendental meditation, so we’re going to have to fit this into the last fifteen minutes,” Willimon said.

Willimon discussed the writing process for a season of “House of Cards” and said that it typically starts with coming up with the big ideas and topics that the season will explore. Willimon talked about failure and said it is a key ingredient to the creative process.

‘My first though when I get up in the morning is ‘I’m going to die,’” Willimon said. “To me, it’s a liberating thought. It’s the one truth we can all agree on. When you confront that first thing in the morning, the rest of the day’s easy.”

Willimon opened up the floor to questions and answered a variety of different queries. Many of the questions were about issues of race, diversity and gender in television and on “House of Cards.”Willimon said that he aimed to make the show as apolitical as possible.

“There is no political agenda to the show,” Willimon said. “Our protagonists are not ideological because they view political beliefs as a form of cowardice.”

When on audience member asked if there were was going to be a fourth season of “House of Cards,” Willimon said that the creators “have not officially announced a season four.”

—Alex Pelham

Update (6:15 p.m.): Saturday night, the world premiere of Sally Field’s most recent film, “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” impressed the majority its South by Southwest audience. Read our review here.

On Sunday, Field and the film’s director and writer, Michael Showalter, sat down to discuss the movie and Field’s 53-year-long career.

“I’m here, because you’re here,” Field said, spreading her arms out toward the audience.

Click here for more from the discussion.

—Danielle Lopez

Update (5:50 p.m.): Four years ago, Austin music teacher Quentin Thomas-Oliver went looking for a drummer willing to play the type of music he wanted. When he couldn’t find one, he built one.  

“So I had this idea of playing classical, tribal, industrial music,” Quentin said. “Everyone makes a face, which is fine, but it’s my thing.”

His two homemade robotic drums make up 50 percent of the band Pony Trap. The other two members are Quentin and his wife, Hillary Thomas-Oliver. The husband, wife and their robot band mates spent Sunday afternoon walking up and down Sixth Street promoting their show at The Dive on Friday.  Read more about Pony Trap here.

—Kat Sampson

Update (3:30 p.m.): Tired of the typical SXSW events and crowds? While SXSW offers a lot of the same features, it's still an Austin festival — there's bound to be something weird going on at any given time. Click here to read our roundup of some innovative events.

Update (2:15 p.m.): “Quitters “is full of messed up people. There’s Clark, a teenager who is a selfish, controlling creep. His girlfriend, Natalia, is struggling with accepting her father’s death, while Clark's ex, Etta, is sleeping with her English teacher in order to distance herself from her parent’s collapsing marriage. What follows is a slow-as-molasses tale of teens trying to find their proper place in the worlds.

The great characters in the film save it from being a dull, pretentious movie. Yes, Clark is a social-awkward and unlikeable weirdo, but he clearly expresses his dilemma of finding a home that possess what he believes is “intellect.” “Quitters” may not be the most accessible film for everyone, but it is an interesting portrait of wealthy, spoiled teens going to pieces as everything crumbles around them.

Rating: 5/10 Daddy Issues  

—Alex Pelham

Update: (2:00 p.m.): "Ex-Machina" premiered today at the festival. The film tells the story of what happens when the line between human and machine blurs. While there are some flaws, the movie stands out as a both a sci-fi and psychological thriller. The acting is solid, the visuals are stunning, and the plot is inventive.

If you didn't get the chance to see it, our movie reviewer, Alex Pelham, provided an apt and thorough review of the film. Read his full review here.

Update (1:15 p.m.): Did you miss the festival yesterday? If not, do you want to relive it? Check out our slideshow of Satruday's events from the film and interactive sections. 

Update (12:30 p.m.): Mark Duplass gave some interesting advice to young filmmakers. He emphasized the importance of a well-rounded education, diverse interests and financial intelligence. Despite being a filmmaker, Duplass warned against majoring in film. Rather, he suggests, one ought to study Spanish or Mandarin, and film should, at most, be one's minor.

Our Life&Arts editor, Kat Sampson, rounded up the best of Duplass' advice. Read his words of wisdom here.

Update (11:30 a.m.): South By Southwest can be overwhelming for even the most battle-hardened festival-goer. Be sure to take some time to rest and recharge. Click here to read about some convenient getaways that will let you relax away from SXSW.

Update (10:50 a.m.): Live tweeting will begin at 10:50 for actor Mark Duplass' keynote event. Follow @katclarksamp to catch the event's highlights. Duplass will talk about changing models in the television and film industries.

Update (10:30 a.m.): It’s Sunday, and you know what that means: brunch. Unless you’re going to South By Southwest, in which case, ain’t nobody got time for that. Grab a breakfast taco for the perfect fuel to power you through day three of SXSW. Staff foodie Elisabeth Dillon recommends six tacos to try while you’re in Austin for SXSW.

Update (9:55 a.m.): Good morning! It’s day three, and we hope all of you aren’t as sore as we are.

On our agenda for today:

Mark Duplass Keynote — Director and producer Mark Duplass will discuss the ever-changing film and television industry. When and where: 11 a.m. at the Vimeo Theater.

Love and Mercy —This film follows The Beach Boys’ lead singer and songwriter Brian Wilson’s successful but costly career, featuring John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks. When and where: 2:15–4:15 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.

David Carr commemoration —  As a tribute to the late New York Times’ columnist, "Page One: Inside The New York Times" will screen followed by a talk with CNN’s Brian Stelter and UT’s School of Journalism director R.B. Brenner. When and where: 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the AT&T Convention Center.

Above Average: A comedy-filled evening hosted by Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow, along with additional members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. When and where: 8 p.m. at Esther's Follies.

—Danielle Lopez

Update (9:30 a.m.): The front end of South By Southwest is filled with films. Having trouble making sense of all the different types at films at the festival? Wondering what to watch? We recommend “Sweaty Betty,” an entry in the narrative feature category that is showing at 1:30 p.m. at The Alamo Ritz. Read our categorical breakdown of films at SXSW for a complete breakdown with our recommendations.

Update (9:00 a.m.): Weather Report: Looks like today will err on the cooler side, with consistent cloud coverage and temperatures staying below 70 degrees. Wind will pick up throughout the day, so hold on to your hats and consider saving that sundress for tomorrow — lest you have a Marilyn Monroe moment. Check the full weather report here.

Update (8:22 a.m.): Anyone who’s done South By Southwest knows how exhausting of a festival experience it is. Between film premieres, secret shows and food trucks, there’s never a dull moment. But if you think this is exhausting, talk to one of the thousands of volunteers who help make SXSW possible. They may be taking your ticket or helping at the Austin Convention Center. They do it for love of the festival – and a free badge. Read more about the SXSW volunteers program here.