2022 SXSW Film Festival Roundup
Sheryl Crow rose to fame at a particular time in pop culture. Coming out in 1993 with “All I Want” from his debut album, Tuesday night music club, Crow became a pop and rock superstar in the last era before social media and smartphones made musical artists as ubiquitous in fans’ daily lives as a weather app. There was still a mystique to being a musical artist, which Amy Scott’s new documentary for Showtime, Sherylhappily wallows in it.
With in-depth interviews with Crow and a legion of his colleagues, friends and contemporaries, Scott (who also directed the wonderful documentary Hal Ashby, Hal) explores many avenues of Crow’s career, as well as some of his own personal battles with depression, cancer, and, strikingly enough, sexism. The doc begins with the type of loaded questions that were directed at female celebrities in the 90s, especially those who tried to control their own careers by becoming producers (in which Crow was a pioneer), and goes on to follow the continual artifice of the entertainment industry past and present. But the wealth of amateur films and sequences that draw the curtain on this era, and which have never been seen before, is what gives Sheryl an intimate and conversational charm, even if he is often just as happy to play the hits.
Steve “Spaz” Williams is responsible for the CGI dinosaurs in jurassic park. Suffice to say that in his own way, Spaz is at the origin of the modern world of digital effects of blockbusters. Yet, until fairly recently, that wasn’t common knowledge, even among movie nerds. And that’s enough to make director Scott Leberecht Spaz documentary a welcome glimpse into the fast-paced and heady days of 1980s and 90s filmmaking, particularly in the bleeding-edge realm of digital effects.
However, Leberecht does more than just document Williams’ accomplishments. A special effects man himself, Leberecht provides an insider’s understanding of the industry’s rivalries, egos and politics, while also having the good sense to know enough about his subject to step back and let Williams tell his story. , his imperfections and all, in his own words. With a rough, laconic disposition and a gaze that can be obliterating, Williams is as asymmetrical to his name “Spaz” as “small” would be to describe Shaquille O’Neal. Williams is an artist – mistakenly – with the energy of a rough. But that sense of perfectionism provides Leberecht with a documentary subject who can be ruthless, even when describing the flaws in his own life.
Spaz provides belated acknowledgment for one of the most pivotal talents in recent cinematic history, and also tries how fearless that talent could be, even when heading for a wall.
The unbearable weight of massive talent
The energetic actor, movie star and meme muse just turned in one of the most acclaimed performances of his career in Michael Sarnoski. Pork. He is by all appearances a healthy and successful 58-year-old man with only sunny days to look forward to. And yet his latest and most distinctly Cage-ian film, The unbearable weight of massive talentworks as a sort of mid-career eulogy.