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SXSW Review: Sweaty Betty

Idiosyncratic Sweaty Betty is a documentary-cum-nonfiction of odd variety. Consisting of six scenes and six cuts and using a cast composed entirely of non-actors, it represents a new-age, inner city twist on the undiluted realism of Richard Linklater or Curtis Snow's disconcertingly realistic Snow on Tha Bluff. Tactically less intellectual than Linklater and yet more restrained and tender than Snow, Sweaty Betty shows the 21st century promise of plopping a camera in a foreign landscape to eye-opening effect, even if said landscape is on American soil.

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SXSW Review: Lamb

Director, screenwriter and star Ross Partridge unearths a ripe splintering of soul in the fragile, complex love story that is Lamb. Adapted from Bonnie Nadzam's sage but harrowing novel of redemption and temptation, Patridge repurposes the byzantine dynamic of Nadzam's words to co-exist in the cinematic crossroads of nail-ruining suspense and earnest, didactic sentiments of humanity, all the while subtly wedging in thematic elements of Vladimir Nabokov's will-they-or-won't-they statutory misgivings.

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Sundance Review || "Results"

Andrew Bujalski
earned an earnest little following out of Austin, Texas from his efforts in building up the mumblecore scene but his star has never shined brighter than it did two festival seasons ago with the debut of his offbeat docu-comedy Computer Chess. Expanding on that last project - which used a blend of professionals and non-actors - Bujalski had to contend with being in a whole new league. The majors to his minors, the Globo-Gym to his Average Joes. He admits that the process was very much the same as it's always been. "I think directing is the same. Whether they're professionals or non-professionals, everybody has their own insecurities, and their own approach." The result is Results, an offbeat and messy gym rat comedy that's still a little pudgy.

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Sundance Review || "Mistress America"

Noah Baumbach again arrives in auspicious fashion, delivering a fast-talking farcical bumblebee of a film whose honey is sweet and sting is bruising. It's as much a diatribe about the fickle nature of youth as it is a pure slapstick comedy, featuring a humdinger of a hipster prophet in the form of a footloose Greta Gerwig. Baumbach's latest is also decidedly his lightest, opting for a kind of 21st century update to the surrealist verisimilitude of "I Love Lucy" or a feminist take on "The Three Stooges" - that is, it's his brand of "But ours goes to 11" absurd. Everything he and his characters touch upon is based in reality - on someone, on something, on somewhere - but is forcefully exaggerated in its screwy presentation. As such, Mistress America has allowed Baumbach and Gerwig to craft modern day archetypes - the awkwardly desirable nerd, the college-bound tabula rasa, the hipster goddess - and mock them to high heavens in pure unapologetically absurdist manner.

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