“SXSW” Sampler Reviews

jason March 16, 2017 0
  • Pig: The Final Screening
  • Assholes
  • Most Beautiful Island
  • Small Time Crime
  • Small Crimes

PIG: The Final Screening

Director: Adam Mason

Writers: Andrew Howard,  Adam Mason  

I’ve heard it referred to as “Ghoul Cinema.” Exceedingly disturbing and graphic films devoid of purpose other than to shock. Every now and then I seek out the most vile things made today (I have no idea why) and I can say “Pig” fits right in there with “Guinea Pig,” “Slaughtered Vomit Dolls,” and “Salo: 120 days of Sodom.” They persist, so there’s a market for them. So, if “Pig” belongs in the narrow sub genre of baseless gore porn, how is it? I have no idea. Good, I guess? It’s performed well and for being shot in two days in 2009, is technically sharp. I’m not a fan, but it’s like asking me to review my favourite country album. For a movie about a psychotic maniac torturing and raping a woman and her brother in his backyard for 90 minutes, it could have been worse.  AlI I can say is I didn’t absolutely loath it…


Writer/Director: Peter Vack

…unlike this goddamn movie! I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie while grinding my teeth into a powder. Speaking of baseless movies devoid of purpose; “Assholes” ups the ante by being obnoxious.  Not only obnoxious, but purposely so for no reason other to get an irate review…like this one…damn it, the movie’s winning!

There were a lot of themes swirling around “Assholes” but the vacuum of sincerity negates any moral. Starring two narcissistic and bellicose siblings, we descend into a maddening and obscene tale of addiction, sex, and literal rectal demons. As much as I deplored watching gross out humour for gross out sake, I absolutely loathed watching young assholes ironically complain.

Game Of Death:

Directors: Laurence “Baz” Morais, Sebastien Landry

Stars: Sam Earle,  Victoria Diamond,  Emelia Hellman

Aptly described as “Jumanji with Murder,” “Game of Death” is an entertaining splatter fest about an evil supernatural board game. As a handful of libido driven young-guns drink, smoke, and have sex, they discover the board game; “Game of Death.” The rules go as such: Kill someone every five minutes (I think, I actually forgot the time distinction) or one of the players’ heads will explode. Kill twenty-four people and you will win. Why twenty-four? I have no idea. Where’d the game come from? Still no clue. Why do we constantly refer to manatees? Nope, no idea.

Where “Game of Death” lacks in substance, it makes up with a break neck pace, impressive visuals, and some compelling performances.  Its goal is to entertain and it emphatically does so. It’s an impressive debut for the directors and I can see this movie having success passed SXSW.

Most Beautiful Island:

Writer/Director: Ana Asensio

Shot on film and projected on 35mm, “Most Beautiful Island” is a wonder to look at.  Starring a Russian immigrant in New York striving to make a living, “Most Beautiful Island” explores what desperate people are willing to do under horrifying circumstances.

Narratively, “Most Beautiful Island” plays out more like an extended short film, but is satisfying nonetheless.  It’s a thrilling mediation on the hardships of life with satellite themes of perversion, misogyny, and opportunity. It won the Jury Prize at SXSW and even though I may not give it that much praise, it is a solid film by all accounts.

Small Town Crime:

Writers/Directors: Eshom Nelms,  Ian Nelms

One thing I like about seeing movies at festivals is that I really have no preconceived notions. I might get a still or a synopsis, but rarely is there a trailer. So when I walked into a drunken ex-cop charmingly trying to get his life in order, I was not expecting a clever balance of humour, drama, and Michael Mann like shoot outs.

“Small Town Crime” follows an alcoholic ex-cop finding a body of a beaten prostitute and investigates the case on his own accord. Comprised of recognizable character actors, “Small Town Crime” starts out innocent enough, but eventually evolves into something visceral. It’s nice to see John Hawks in a leading roll, the narrative moves well, and it’s  never boring.

Small Crimes:

Director: E.L. Katz 

Writers: Macon Blair,  E.L. Katz 

The other movie with a similar title and premise is also one of my favourite movies of the year. “Small Crimes” stars an alcoholic ex-cop, named Joe, trying to get his life in order after prison (huh, feels like I just wrote that). As he tries to get the restraining order lifted so he can see his daughters, he’s offered some money by a corrupt cop and former colleague.

With a similar premise to “Small Town Crime,” the themes are somewhat inverted. Diving back into the crow’s nest that lead him into prison, it’s easy for Joe to become engulfed by his bad habits.  Impressively performed by a wonderful ensemble cast and masterfully lensed, “Small Crimes” is an impressive feature from top to bottom. Available on Netflix in the next month, I highly suggest checking this film out. They’re just not a lot of films made like this anymore .


  • “Game Of Death” was originally a web series.
  • Pig was filmed in 2009, premiered in 2010, and then vanished for a while.
  • Big fan of what Macon Blair is doing with his life.
  • Assholes is my least favourite movie I reviewed. The last one was Leviathan. That would be a horrendous double feature.

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