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    SXSW 2015: ‘Room 237’ director Rodney Ascher explores the horrors of sleep paralysis in ‘The Nightmare’

    It starts with a tingling sensation, almost like an electric jolt to the body. A heavy weight presses down upon the chest, rendering you immobile. You sense a presence in the corner of the bedroom. It moves closer and closer to your bed. You try to move or scream, but nothing happens. The shadow man just keeps lurching forward. Soon he’ll be upon you, and there is no telling what damage he’ll inflict. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Creative Control’ wraps well-worn ideas in a shiny new package

    Benjamin Dickinson’s Creative Control is right at home premiering at SXSW, a festival that touts the convergence of technology and film. Playing with perception and exploring the place of relationships and the ego within tomorrow’s technological landscape, the film will seem familiar to fans of UK television show Black Mirror. With the ever-pressing concerns of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, the film may explore very familiar ideas philosophizing technology, but thanks to dark, bleak humor and sleek visuals, Creative Control is far from rote. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Honeytrap’ fails to generate emotion despite its melodramatic subject matter

    As Honeytrap opens, 15-year-old Layla (Jessica Sula) arrives in London, having traveled from her native Trinidad to live with her mother. With her doe eyes and cherubic face, she looks displaced on the gritty streets of South London. Over the course of Honeytrap, Layla’s innocence is slowly dismantled by this harsh environment, and director Rebecca Johnson depicts this process with broad strokes and heavy-handed characterization. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘God Bless the Child’ thoughtfully examines childhood and familial bonds

    The bonds of family hold strong in the face of extraordinary hardship. When the world around them sinks into darkness and the future appears foreboding, people cling to those they are closest to in their lives. God Bless the Child paints a dark portrait of reality for the five young siblings at its center, but with exceptional observation, the film depicts how familial bonds remain intact, even as circumstances grow dire. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Welcome to Leith’ weaves a bizarre and enthralling tale

    The story at the center of Welcome to Leith is so surreal that it’s hard to believe you’re watching a documentary. When Craig Cobb first moved to the minuscule town of Leith, North Dakota – population 24 – residents thought he was just an unassuming old man who enjoyed his privacy. In reality, he was a neo-Nazi planning to buy up parcels of land and turn the town into a refuge for white supremacists. Welcome to Leith packages this strange tale in the form of a riveting war film, with the Leith residents battling against Cobb in an attempt to retake their formerly serene hamlet. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Life in Color’ suffers from a lack of sincerity

    Life in Color is in the running for having the most contrived meet-cute at this year’s SXSW festival. Mary (Katherine Emmer), a dour live-in nanny and all-around sad sack, is chaperoning her ten-year-old charge’s birthday party when she comes across the party clown smoking pot by the garbage cans. After her employer catches her taking a toke, Mary loses her job as well as her home. The party clown, named Homer (Josh McDermitt), proposes that she come stay with him while he house-sits for a friend. She reluctantly agrees. Over the next month, they overcome personal adversities together, develop a strong romantic connection, and learn to rise above past hardships through honesty and laughter. Unfortunately, they’ll be the only ones laughing, as Life in Color is completely devoid of humor and wit. More

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    SXSW 2015: Prepare yourself for the cinematic roller coaster that is ‘The Nymphets’

    It takes only a few moments for The Nymphets to establish its chaotic atmosphere. Opening with a percussive, kinetic score and whipping through its credits, Gary Gardner’s film is rarely at a standstill. Character dynamics are always changing, and the narrative has a way of shifting course, preventing viewers from discerning where exactly its going. The Nymphets is always in a state of flux, which makes for an exhilarating – if at times frustrating – cinematic experience. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Petting Zoo’ documents the transition from adolescence to adulthood with intimate detail

    “I’m everywhere now, the way is a vow to the wind of each breath by and by.” Johnny Flynn’s “The Water” is prominently featured twice in Micah Magee’s Petting Zoo, serving to remind the audience of life’s unpredictable nature. People may make plans for the future, but in reality there is no telling how the road before them will unfold. Protagonist Layla (Devon Keller) experiences a number of difficult transitions throughout Petting Zoo. Over the course of several months, she progresses from adolescence to maturity, and Magee’s camera is there to document her growth in poignant, intimate detail. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘Manglehorn’ is as aimless as its eponymous character

    Angelo Manglehorn (Al Pacino) is a man adrift. He has no connections to tie him to the world, no close relationships with family or friends. As a locksmith, he spends his days crafting spare keys or helping people who have locked themselves out of their cars. When the day is done, he returns home to spend the evening with his sole companion: his cat, Fanny. Much like its eponymous character, David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn drifts aimlessly, never bothering to make meaningful connections between characters or story elements. More

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    SXSW 2015: ‘The Salt of the Earth’ is a sufficient tribute to an extraordinary photographer

    When Wim Wenders first saw Sebastiõ Salgado’s photographs, he knew he was looking at the work of an artistic genius. Salgado used his camera to document various indigenous peoples throughout the world, exploring the depths of little-known cultures and lifestyles. Much of his early work celebrated the heterogeneous nature of humanity, but as Salgado became more interested in the plights of war-ravaged nations, his photographs became darker and more provocative. The Salt of the Earth, co-directed by Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro, delineates one man’s tumultuous relationship with humanity. As evidenced by Salgado’s extraordinary photographs, human beings are at once the most beautiful and the most appalling creatures to have ever walked the Earth. More

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