Danny Boyle teased South by Southwest into a bit of a frenzy of curiosity Saturday by presenting a dramatic clip of his new mind-bending movie “Trance,” which is scheduled to open in Austin in late April.
Starring James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, “Trance” is visually stylish, with an equally stylish score by longtime Boyle collaborator Rick Smith, who appeared with the director on stage at the Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center. David Carr of The New York Times moderated the discussion.
Boyle explained that he couldn’t have the world premiere at SXSW because European distributor Pathe has the premiere rights, not Fox Searchlight, which is distributing the film in the U.S.
During the panel discussion, Boyle said he would describe “Trance” as a “delicious perversion.” In a discussion with the American-Statesman later in the day, we asked Boyle what he meant by “delicious perversion.”
His response: “By that, I mean you have three characters set up at the beginning, but you’re never sure who to root for, who to back, who to trust, who to get involved with. It keeps slipping and sliding and changing. It’s fluid. I love that. That’s what I call delicious, perverse filmmaking. I like my head being messed with in a movie like that, all the surprises.”
Boyle was deliberately hedging his answers to questions, and that’s understandable. He doesn’t want to give away any surprises in a movie that obviously has more than its share. But he says he can say this:
“James McAvoy is an art historian and auctioneer, and he gets involved in the theft of a painting from his own auction house. He tries to double-cross the gang who has stolen the painting with him, for which he receives a blow on the head, for which he claims gives him amnesia.
“The actual film is not really not about a stolen painting. It appears to be about a stolen painting. It’s not. It’s about stolen memories. The film appears to be about amnesia, it’s not. One of the characters in the film says amnesia is bollocks. We all know that. It’s just a movie device. The movie is about forgetting as a behavioral choice.
“It’s more complex piece of storytelling. … the ideas of the film, the art heist, amnesia, the femme fatale…. The film uses these tropes. But they won’t solve the puzzle for you in the end. The puzzle is solved in a different way, as you’ll see.”
In other words, “Trance” sounds like it’s going to be a “talker.”
Elect David Wooderson
Moviegoers have had Jesse and Celine in their lives for almost 20 years. Director Richard Linklater introduced us to the star-crossed lovers played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in 1995’s “Before Sunrise.”
His “Before Midnight,” which played Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre, is the latest installment of the unexpected trilogy. I talked to Linklater earlier Saturday about living with his characters for such a long time.
“It’s kind of great,” Linklater said. “It’s a friend that you might not see for awhile but you think about. Clearly there’s a connection there. I kind of love them at this point.”
The “Slacker” director and Austin Film Society co-founder said “it’s kind of fun” to think about where his fictional characters from other movies might be.
As for one of his most beloved co-creation’s, Matthew McConaughey’s languid lothario David Wooderson from 1993’s “Dazed and Confused”?
“Oh, he’s a city councilman now,” Linklater joked without missing a beat. And likely still hanging around those high school girls. Alright, alright, alright.
“Before Midnight” is scheduled to open in New York and Los Angeles on May 24, making an early June release in Austin probable.
— Matthew Odam
A magical opening to SXSW film
One of the key points to “The Amazing Burt Wonderstone” is that magicians are aware of their inherent goofiness, fully embrace it and go on with doing what they love anyway. Their clueless arrogance is a part of their characters, as much of an act as sawing a lady in half. “Burt Wonderstone” opened SXSW Film on Friday (and is scheduled to open in Austin theaters this coming Friday).
And if you need a guy who is the king of understands-he’s-goofy-yet-remains-endearing, Steve Carell is your man.
Here, under a post-human level of bronzer, he plays the titular Wonderstone, who falls under magic’s spell (sorry) when he gets a magic kit released under the brand name of magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin, here a mild mix of Rip Torn’s part in “Dodgeball” and Arkin’s character in the much harsher “Little Miss Sunshine”).
The kit inspires Wonderstone and his pal Anton (eventually, Steve Buscemi) to team up and they become wildly successful magicians on the Vegas strip. Loosely based on Sigfried and Roy (veeeery loosely), Burt and Anton are in the middle of a successful run at the megacasino owned by James Gandolfini (of course), when Steve Gray (Jim Carrey, looking both extremely fit and, well, a little old for this part) arrives on the scene with his David Blane/Criss Angel-style of weird/gross stunts. Burt and Anton suddenly seem like old news.
Written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and directed by noted TV director Don Scardino, “Burt Wonderstone” hits the mark now and then but is driven almost entirely by well-known quantities: Carell’s almost superhuman likeability when he is being a self-involved doofus and Carry’s rubbery menace. Neither part breaks any particular ground.
— Joe Gross
‘The Evil Dead’ returns with more blood
The level of gore and violence in Sam Raimi’s low-budget 1981 horror film “The Evil Dead” was shocking enough in its day to be slapped with an X rating by the MPAA. That film practically looks like “Sesame Street” in comparison to the bloodsoaked remake that made its world premiere Friday at the Paramount.
In his debut feature, director Fede Alvarez worked with co-screenwriter Rodo Sayagues to put a new twist on the story that introduces us to five people who are meeting up at a cabin in the woods, this time for an intervention. Mia (Jane Levy) is ready to kick her drug habit and dramatically dumps her drugs down a well outside the cabin surrounded by her friends and brother David (played by Shiloh Fernandez, who essentially stands in for Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ash character). When it is revealed that Mia has been through all this before and that her intention may be more to get attention than to stop using, the others band together and decide that they’re not going to let her leave the cabin until after she’s come down from her detox.
It’s safe to say that they’d all much rather have had Mia strung out on drugs than possessed by a demon, which is exactly what happens after Eric (“Thumbsucker” star Lou Taylor Pucci) busts open the Necronomicon, bound in barbed wire and human skin, found in the basement. From there, the screen is filled with torrents of blood and dismemberments that will please die-hard genre fans and find everybody else covering their eyes or running for the door.
For horror purists, it is important to note that this new version was crafted with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on board as producers and the gore quotient on display is plentiful. It will hit theaters nationwide April 5.
— Matt Shiverdecker