SXSW Review: OZAS, Oter, I See Rivers, Heave Blood & Die

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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We have already already noted that one advantage of SXSW being a fully online festival is that with the prerecorded aspect of it all, some have really stepped up and produced some amazing content. The Taiwan Beats showcase was the first one to really impress, with unique filming locations making the performances that much more memorable and having the added bonus of the showcase almost doubling as a tourism video. Not that anyone’s going anywhere anytime too soon, but eventually, hopefully not too far in the future, we can travel again. In the meantime, we can still watch videos.

For their short showcase video, Northern Expo did something quite similar to Taiwan Beats with a video directed by Carl Christian Lein Størmer that not only highlighted four talented acts coming out of Norway and showcased the beautiful scenery, but threw in the added layer of including transition scenes that acted as a bridge connecting each performance. Does this mean that OZAS, Oter, I See Rivers and Heave Blood & Die are the Avengers of the Northern Expo Cinematic Universe? Sure, why not?

Starting things off were OZAS, a duo performing traditional Sámi music. The duo, made up of Risten Anine and Sara Marielle, harmonized beautifully, not surprising considering they are sisters. Following them, the camera moved to Oter, who put on a solid performance while riding in the back of a car. Keeping the theme of performing inside a vehicle going, we were treated next to I See Rivers performing inside of a cable car as it moved up a mountain. Finally, from atop that mountain, Heave Blood & Die let loose with a powerfully heavy performance that seemed like it was tailor made to be played on top of a snow covered mountain. Great scenery, great cinematography, and great music.

SXSW Film Review: Clerk [2021, Malcolm Ingram]

Posted on by Gary in Movies, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

What is meant to be the functional difference between biography and autobiography?

Methinks the entry exams for all Kevin Smith fan clubs have already been failed by the posing of that question. It will surprise no one (myself included, especially if I was ever to write an autobiography) that I have never seen Clerk(s), nor Jay and Silent Bob(s). While a culture touchstone, there is just an intentional lack of obscurity that I could not abide. The elitist in me felt like shouting, “I’m not even supposed to be here”!

However, that point is also intentionally missed. It is objectively and precisely what makes Kevin Smith such an enduringly popular tide within the phenomenal tsunami of nerd culture. Clerk is a victory lap whose purpose was never in doubt from the first millisecond. What self-respecting, self-deprecating humorist shows off a VHS recording of a grandiose teenage proclamation if it was never realized? In chronological order, Clerk pinballs around the milestones of Kevin Smith’s journey through life, betwixt the movie and comic book industry, supported largely by the same entourage. It charts his constantly rising star and occasionally twinkling luminosity, all the way to the marijuana, heart attack and his “gone soft” moments.

From the outside perspective, it is a defining culture slideshow from the ’90s to the present. Of course Bill and Ted preceded Jay and Silent Bob. Of course 3 decades of longevity can be bestowed upon anything that manages to still receive periodic filling of the feeding trough from its creators, given said creators are still around. Just as the Sundance illuminati figured out that Clerks was not a clever elitist swipe but a genuine blue collar outing, Kevin Smith and Co. also worked out that they didn’t have to bow to any gatekeepers. The joke’s on the Illuminati who funded such a slacker Coming-of-Age – but who’s counting intellectual grudges if one’s hands are riddled by papercuts from Benjamins? The clear differentiation between Hollywood and Nerd subcultures, in their telling, is accessibility. Whereas it is the major currency in Hollywood and perhaps the crossover Influencer universe, it is democratized in the Nerd culture. As they imply from the inside perspective, no less, anyone nerd enough can print accessibility in the View Askewniverse.

In its warmest interpretation, Clerk is indeed a tear-jerking saga where millions awoke with Kevin Smith to find that they resonate with, and more importantly, have the economic might to dictate, a multitude of harmlessly parallel niche worldviews full of wiener-nazis and man-walruses. In the far darker corner, though, sits the he-who-shall-not-be-named president. As Red State foretold, worldview fandom and worldview fundamentalism is not as far separated as they seem. And in the tally, maybe there wasn’t much separating elitism and populism, either.

SXSW Shorts: Learn Tagalog with Kayla, Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before

Posted on by Ricky in Movies, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

SXSW Online this year might lack the power of the mighty Hollywood machine (and the hilarity that ensues when something like what happened with Ready Player One occurs) but I have found the Shorts section of this year’s film programming to be of extremely high quality. Here’s two that stood out:

Learn Tagalog with Kayla (2021, Kayla Galang)

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This short, without spoiling too much, captures a certain post-pandemic vibe that I think we can all relate to. There’s a realness to this film that triumphs at capturing what I imagine a lot of people are feeling right now, all with the mood of a public access video. Really enjoyable.

Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before (2021, Andrew Carter)

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Speaking of movies that capture our times correctly, I can’t praise this short enough for perfectly conveying the anxiety and weird social traditions that have been established since the Pandemic started. This short is funny each step of the way, and frankly, very entertaining.

SXSW Review: Van Mary, Blushing

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

The cancellation of the 2020 edition of SXSW was a big deal and also a bit of a disappointment for us at Panic Manual. We’ve been heading to Austin for years now and after months of buildup leading up to SXSW 2020, it felt odd to not be attending the festival last year. So it was a bit of a relief that SouthBy made its return this year, albeit virtually.

Still, it felt a bit odd not actually being in Austin for this year’s festival. After all, much of the appeal of being at SXSW is, well, actually being at SXSW – walking down 6th Street or South Congress, taking in a show at Cedar Street or the Central Presbyterian Church, grabbing some tacos, making our annual burger pilgrimage to Casino El Camino, and just generally taking in the vibe. So no, unfortunately there will be none of that this year.

But if we can’t come to Austin, it’s nice to know that in a way, Austin can come to us. And that’s just what happened on Friday evening as I tuned in to the Hotel Vegas & Hotel Free TV showcase to take in sets by a bunch of local Austin acts recorded at one of my favourite SXSW venues over the last few years, Hotel Vegas. It was nice to revisit the venue even if it was through a screen and I also appreciated the old school VHS tape aesthetic that Hotel Free TV brought to this production.

There were great performances across the board, from the bratty punk of Lord Friday The 13th to the psychedelic sounds of Holy Wave, but the two acts that made the biggest impression on me were the first two up on the bill – Van Mary and Blushing.

Blushing was a known quantity to me already, having seen them live a couple of times, but the band, made up of two married couples, are always a treat to see live as they’ve got the classic shoegaze sound nailed. Van Mary, who started off the evening, was a completely new discovery for me, but a welcome one. The band, led by Emily Whetstone, played a short but compelling set of indie rock that gave off a bit of an old school Julianna Hatfield/Liz Phair vibe, while also sounding thoroughly modern. It sounded great and I look forward to being able to see Van Mary play these songs in person some time, hopefully next year in Austin.