SxSW 2008: A Second Skin and one bad Otis

Not a whole lot happens on the Friday night leading into South by Southwest, the town just warms up a bit with a few events as visitors trickle into town, check into their hotels, and pick up their badges. The one part of the festival that really hits the ground running is the Film section, which had a full lineup of screenings last night, many of which were world premieres.

I was excited to jump on the some of those. Though I’m a huge movie watcher I’ve attended very few first-time screenings. In particular, I had spotted a documentary that was premiering called Second Skin. It has been getting some buzz and sounded interesting. The movie focuses on a number of gamers who spend a huge amount of their time playing massively multiplayer online role playing games like World of Warcraft and Everquest, and the effect that their hobby/addiction has on their personal lives.

SxSW 2008 Second Skin Premiere

Second Skin was very good. It followed three fascinating storylines, all of which showed the powerful influence that these virtual identities can have – both positively and negatively – on the gamers the filmmakers followed for over a year. Some interesting food for thought, particular the diverse reasons why people retreat to online worlds and prefer to be there.

Otis Movie CoverAfter such a good first foray into the film festival, I decided to stay out even later and go for the double feature. Otis, which is directed by the same guy who did Mulholland Drive and features such recognizable actors as Kevin Pollak, was premiering at midnight at the Alamo Ritz downtown.

What I got for my late night was, and there is just no other way to put it . . . an exceptionally bad movie. I had flashbacks to when I went and saw the Bruce Willis bomb Hudson Hawk in the theaters back in the mid-90s. It was seat-squirming, eye-rubbing-in-disbelief,

thought-seriously-about-leaving-early-in-full-view-of-the-film’s-cast-and-crew terrible. It didn’t work on any level. It was supposed to be a black comedy, and ambitiously tried to take on kidnapping, serial killing, and rape as fodder for comedy. Poor writing, poor directing, poor acting, and a terrible B-movie-sounding soundtrack worked together to make me wish I was sleeping soundly at home. The only reason Hudson Hawk remains at the top of my list of worst movies I’ve ever seen in a theater is because of its musical numbers.

So SxSW is a mixed bag so far . . . but today the Interactive portion starts. Should be some good things coming . . .

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