Published at: March 12, 2007, 9:54 p.m. CST by headgeek
Greetings humans, Monki here with my first flicks I caught at SXSW '07.
Today was a really good day for me. I put an offer in on a house, I saw my parents for the first time in a while and I was honored to have a SXSW Film Badge fall into my lap at the very last moment. I forgot how much I love SXSW until I missed the very first day of it. It is a love that runs deep, one that cannot be dismissed...'n stuff. Anyway, I kicked off SXSW '07 with two great documentaries.
Election Day centers around the election in 2004. The one where President Bush was re-elected over John Kerry. This is a doc about what happens on Super Tuesday. We see a new American citizen voting for the first time, we see an 18 year old voting in her first election, a convict making his first ballot-drop and a group of bottlers in Oklahoma talking about homosexual marriage.
The film represents a good cross-section of American culture and political stances. One of the true break-out characters was Jim Fuchs, a Republican poll-watcher in Chicago and a dead ringer for Stephen Tobolowsky. We watch him give a rousing speech at 5am at an IHOP the morning of the election and travel with him throughout the day as he battles to keep the politic pushers back 100 feet from the polling areas and arguing with local Democrats at other polling stations.
Fourteen separate locations were filmed and five or six are really highlighted in this piece that shows the good and the bad of voting in America. If you are SXSW you should give this one a watch. Check out the movie's website at http://www.electiondaythemovie.com/.
One of my favorite finds at SXSW (you know, the one where you buy the DVD and show everyone you know) was Doug Pray's documentary Scratch. Scratch highlighted turntablists and the lifestyle that surrounds them. Much like Scratch, Big Rig follows a group of under appreciated people across this great country of ours.
Big Rig is an effort five years in the making. Doug and his producer spent months traveling across America and basically hanging out in truckstops meeting truckers in their natural environments. They intended to create a documentary about the kick-ass times of convoys and lot lizards but instead they have found a movie that reveals the heart of America lies on the roads that keep it together.
If roads are the veins of the U.S., then truckers are the white blood cells that keep the rest of the body (U.S.) from failing. Stop and think about it. Almost everything you purchase ends up on the back of a big rig at some point before it makes it to your house. Clothes, food, furniture, all carried via 18-wheeler. We owe a lot to these modern-day cowboys.
The film travels from the northeast down to Dixie, across to Nevada, up to Washington and ends up somewhere in California. Along the way we are treated to a wonderful cast of characters all willing to share their stories of life on the road. Some of them are heartbreaking, some of them are hilarious but all of them are genuine.
Pray's style remains intact from his Scratch days. For a movie about big trucks crossing the country, it never gets boring to look at. Also, the music is top notch, very kickass stuff here from Buck 65.
It does start to drag (tow? haul?) a little bit towards the end of the movie, but I still dug the hell out of it. If you liked Scratch, give this one a view. You can check out more info (and some clips from the soundtrack) at http://bigrigmovie.com/bigrig/.
Sorry if these reviews are short, I've got a ton of films to watch in the next two weeks and I've got to get some rest so I can stay awake during them all. So, keep tuned for more over the coming days, until then though, back up the tree I go!