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SXSW 2021 Short Film Highlights



Despite there not being a physical South By Southwest happening in-person this year, SXSW 2021 Online is the next best thing. Whilst there are a lot of exciting new feature films premiering at the festival and you can look out for some reviews of them already on the site and a few more coming in the next few days, there’s also a really wide range of short films being shown and I’m going to be picking out a few that I really liked and mentioning them below.

My favourite short that I saw was Rendang of Death. It’s a 6-minute-long animated film taking place inside a restaurant, but the problem is there’s only one plate of rendang left but there’s a whole restaurant full of hungry people wanting to eat. Chaos ensues as a massacre breaks out in a fight to the death for the final plate of the delicious rendang. The animation style of it was really nice and it was just good fun. It was entertaining, it was humorous, it was just a thoroughly entertaining short film.

Rendang of Death

Another one of the shorts that I really liked was one called Flick that premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortFest back in June 2020 and is now being shown at SXSW. It’s good a very bizarre, if not slightly disturbing, premise about a reclusive college student who starts to go mad after picking his nose and not being able to flick away the booger. What follows is a 10-minute-long escapade of him going crazy and trying to flick it away. It’s an interesting blend of comedy but also horror as it becomes simultaneously really uncomfortable to watch but also really funny. It’s a really difficult film to rate because it’s really well made but at the same time it’s so creepy and uncomfortable to watch but it is actually a very good film.


The final short that I wanted to mention is one called The Thing That Ate the Birds. It’s at SXSW this week as well as being shown as part of the Manchester International Film Festival last week and it’s another really good short film. It’s set on the North Yorkshire Moors and sees a gamekeeper discovering the thing that’s eating all his birds. It’s a really good and tense short horror film that hits all the right beats and is a really strong short film. It’s tense and atmospheric and manages to build up and say quite a lot within the short runtime.

The Thing That Ate the Birds

All three of the short films highlighted above are definitely worth seeking out and watching if you’re able to find them.

Have you been watching any of the shorts shown at SXSW 2021 Online? Let us know what you think of them below.

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‘Saltburn’ Review | Barry Keoghan Excels In Emerald Fennell’s Sickly Satisfying Film



There have been a lot of extreme reactions to Emerald Fennell’s ‘Saltburn’ and I was getting really anxious about watching the film. When I finally got a chance to see it, I realized why people were so divided about this weird film. There is no doubt that this is an audacious film, but let’s not get carried away by saying that we haven’t seen anything like this before. We have, but none of those movies were accessible like this one.

The movie follows Oliver, a new student at Oxford University, and shows how he deals with being around wealthy people while he’s still learning the ropes of college life. No one notices him, except a really creepy student who looks a bit like Jeffrey Dahmer (Sorry!). Even though no one wants to talk to him, Oliver has already set his eyes on Felix (Jacob Elordi) and wants to his friend. One day, he finds an opportunity and helps Felix by giving his own bicycle so that he can reach his destination on time. Since that day, Oliver and Felix became best friends. As the year ended, Felix asked Oliver to come stay with him at his huge family home, Saltburn, during the summer. Without any doubt, Oliver’s stay at Saltburn is filled with sex, partying and some really weird situations.

But if you feel that’s what the movie is about, then you are wrong. Amid all the happening moments, Oliver shows his true nature. This film truly excels when Fennell digs deeper and explores Oliver’s relationship with Felix’s family. The conversations between them are disturbing and he makes his way into Felix’s family by earning their trust.

Alison Oliver, Jacob Elordi, and Barry Keoghan in ‘Saltburn’ (Amazon Studios)

‘Saltburn’ is an incredibly beautiful movie visually, especially in certain scenes that show the luxurious life of the rich people. But at the same time, these scenes also give off a slightly creepy or unsettling vibe. Fennell uses color and camera placement to perfection, allowing viewers to know Oliver’s place among the super-rich and his own creepy personality. However, ‘Saltburn’ doesn’t offer anything different than what we have seen in previous eat-the-rich movies. But, of course, what Fennell does so well is that it encourages the audiences to laugh at the so-called affluent community. There are lots of funny moments in the movie, thanks to the filmmaker’s clever writing and the extraordinary actors bringing those moments to life. Even though the writing material is sharp, it isn’t as thought-provoking as audiences would have wanted it to be.

When it comes to acting, Barry Keoghan is simply stunning. This is undoubtedly the creepiest character he has played over the years and still made viewers root for him. It is one of those performances that cements his place in the list of elite actors that could alone be responsible for a film’s success. Truly, a mind-blowing acting performance. Meanwhile, Jacob Elordi is brilliant as Felix and embodies the character of a posh boy with precision. Elordi shows off his incredible charm and charisma, proving once again that he’s a really talented and charismatic actor.

Rosamund Pike as Elsbeth in ‘Saltburn’ (Amazon Studios)

Meanwhile, Rosamund Pike and Richard Grant are splendid as Elsbeth and James. They are the definition of how rich actually behave and romanticize the idea of poverty while sitting in their mansion. On the other hand, Alison Oliver takes everyone by storm with her acting. Even though she has little screen time, but whenever she is given a chance to convey something, she does that with her impeccable acting skills.

There’s no doubt that Saltburn offers a captivating and enjoyable mystery, but it doesn’t offer anything new to audiences. Undoubtedly, the good things outshine the little average ones and the finished product is satisfying. Fennell has dared to tell a story that others might not even touch and add her own touch to it. ‘Saltburn’ is a bizarre cinematic experience that goes way too far with its multi-layered storytelling. Emerald Fennell lures us into a world filled with lies and lust while talking about class issues.

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Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”



Ariana DeBose as Asha in Wish (Disney)


Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Ariana Debose as Asha in Wish (Disney)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.

Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.

This Wish by Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.

At All Costs by Chris Pine & Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.

I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.

My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?

My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!

Wish Official Trailer (Disney)

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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy



Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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