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Josh Olson's Day 3 at SXSW: Soderbergh's EVERYTHING IS FINE and ELEKTRA LUXX

DAY THREE There’s a story behind each of the films I want to tell you about today, but first, just a word to the wise for anyone who’s here in Austin - Thunder Soul - the movie I told you about yesterday - will be playing again this week. It shows today, Monday, at 6:45 at the Drafthouse, and Friday at 2:30 at the Paramount. Do yourself a favor and get on this train before it leaves the station. So. Everything Is Fine. Steven Soderbergh’s terrific documentary about the great monologuist Spalding Gray. I was very fortunate to have had at least one friend hip enough to be into Spalding Gray way back when, even before Jonathan Demme filmed Swimming To Cambodia. Mercedes dragged me off to see this guy in some dinky theater in Philadelphia in the early Eighties, and I was a fan for life. Many years later, I was fortunate enough to meet Spalding in LA one time, and had a lovely conversation that while I can’t recreate a single word of it, I will tell you that its substance helped me make some fairly significant decisions about how to go about my life and my work. Gray was unique and brilliant and indispensable, and a new Spalding Gray monologue was something to be sought out eagerly. Here’s how badly I wanted to see this movie: I raced off to the Convention Center this morning to get my quick pass to the film, then made sure to leave early this afternoon, just in case. I took a cab from the hotel to the Alamo, with almost an hour to spare. I wasn’t taking any chances. I have no idea what the problem was, but traffic was insane. I mean, LA insane. I’ve never seen anything like it. What was a five dollar cab ride yesterday was edging close to thirty bucks. My cabbie finally hopped off Riverside, and headed up to Oltorf, and when we got there, the railroad crossing was closed. I whipped out my iPhone, checked the map, and found out the only way there was to A) go all the way back and sit in traffic, or B) go down some tiny roads, and have him drop me off on the wrong side of the tracks and walk. Running out of time, I opted for B. We ended up in a little Texas trailer park, where I got out and headed into the woods, praying not to run into any Deliverance extras. I had to climb up a rocky path to the tracks, and I predictably fell on my ass going down the rocky hill on the other side. Delightful. But at least I didn’t run into any Deliverance extras. I raced to the theater with ten minutes to spare, and found that the film was packed. I desperately threw myself on the mercy of the manager, Dominic, who took terribly pity on me and pointed to the one remaining seat. I owe Dominic big. The movie was more than worth it. If you’re a Gray fan, it’s a beautifully constructed look at this amazing man’s life through his own words. If you don’t know anything about him, it’ll introduce you to a brilliant writer and performer, and whet your appetite for more (the producer hinted that we’ll get more, eventually - something’s in the works with Criterion. Hooray!) Many of you know how Gray’s life ended, and some of you don’t, and you can look him up if you’re interested. The film doesn’t focus on that, but his suicide can’t help but color much of what he talks about. But it’s not a grim film, even though it deals with his depression. It’s a powerful look at the life and - even more interesting - the mind of one of American’s most unique artists. Soderbergh and his editor plowed through hundreds of hours of footage to put the thing together, and it’s clearly a labor of love. An absolutely wonderful film. From the sublime to the ridiculous... and terrifying: Elektra Luxx is a light and charming movie. It’s the sequel to Women in Trouble, which is also a light and charming movie. Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez for pretty much nothing, he’s assembled a terrific and talented cast to come play. It picks up where the first film left off, telling the story of porn star Elektra Luxx, who’s found herself unexpectedly pregnant. Like the first film, it also features a bunch of other characters, all of whom are distinct and funny and fleshed out. The first film was a pleasant surprise, and this one lives up to the first.... At least, the first hour does. I have no idea what happens in the last half hour, and neither does anyone else who was at the Paramount tonight, because the digital projector broke. I’ve worked with a lot of directors. Hell, I’ve directed myself. I can safely say, there aren’t a lot of filmmakers who could have done what Gutierrez did tonight. He took to the stage and vamped. And he was funny, and charming, and engaging, and man, let me tell you - there was NO ONE in the house tonight whose guts weren’t churning for this guy. I can’t think of a worse nightmare for a filmmaker than to be premiering your movie and the damn projector breaks. And it never got fixed. I’m told there’s going to be a midnight show in the next day or so, and I hope I can make it to see how it ends. But I will never forget the energy and charm and good grace with which Gutierrez handled himself tonight. The movie stars Carla Gugino, Timothy Olyphant, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Malin Akerman, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marley Shelton, and a host of others, and it’s clear that Gutierrez didn’t have a lot to pay them, and had to rely, instead, on luring them in with great characters. Some interesting ones lined up tomorrow. I’m optimistic - this has been a great festival already, and there’s still a week to go.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 15, 2010, 4:11 a.m. CST

    First

    by psycho1576

    Once again........

  • March 15, 2010, 4:54 a.m. CST

    Who wrote this?

    by BumLove

  • March 15, 2010, 5:21 a.m. CST

    Josh "I will not read your fucking script" Olson?

    by MaxCalifornia.

  • March 15, 2010, 5:21 a.m. CST

    Olson needs to write more here

    by ISleptWithKathyBatesAndAllThatIGotWasThisStupidTalkbackName

    I've enjoyed all of your reports so far. Glad to hear you made the movie after the nightmare getting there (shame about the projector issues though!)

  • March 15, 2010, 6:23 a.m. CST

    JOSH OLSEN QUOTE FROM 10 YEARS AGO.....

    by TehCreepyThinMan

    "Will you PLEASE read my script?"<br> <br>Thank's to the IMDB for that one.<br> <br>Anyway, Olsen is a fucking douchebag who only ADAPTED A History of Violence and, for some reason, he's considered an authority on screenwriting? The only reason anyone would want him to read their script is because they figure that he'll help them sell it because most screenwriters are fucking parasites, just ask Drew McWeeney. You don't think Olsen wasn't kissing every ass he could to get work as a writer? So you ADAPTED a fucking graphic novel into a slow and dull movie by David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises was MUCH better then AHoV) and you act as though your Robert Towne/Paul Schrader circa 1976? Go back to Trailers from Hell where you can pretend to be an authority on cult/exploitation cinema with fellow ass kissing hack Eli Roth.

  • March 15, 2010, 6:52 a.m. CST

    This Was Written By a Professional Writer?

    by kevinwillis.net

    Wow.

  • March 15, 2010, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Thanks for the write-up

    by palimpsest

    SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA and MONSTER IN A BOX are great - can't wait to see the Spalding Grey doc - just hope it gets a UK release.

  • March 15, 2010, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Traffic

    by jessfudd

    The traffic was caused by the Kite Festival. I think it was supposed to have been last week but got postponed because of weather. Anyway, it was at Zilker Park and tons of people went, making traffic the worst I've seen it since moving to Austin. Also, I agree that Sebastian Gutierrez was charming and wonderful and handled the situatino as gracefully as possible.

  • March 15, 2010, 11:16 a.m. CST

    ...Wish the projector broke on...

    by yourSTEPDADDY

    ...War of the Worlds after that battlefield scene...

  • March 15, 2010, 12:32 p.m. CST

    FOCUS!

    by TheSwamper

    It's not until the 6th paragraph that you actually start to talk about the movie. Sorry, but I don't give a crap about your backstory, get to the point of the review: the review.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Josh Olson is a dirtbag.....

    by HordePrime

    Not because he won't read your fucking script or because his segment in Gotham Knight was a pale rip-off of a better Batman Animated episode, but because when he actually did read his friends script (in the article he wrote), all he could do was talk about how this guy wasted years of his life and needed to quit screenwriting immediately. Any good writer knows that it takes time to hone your craft and learn the trade. Not Josh, apparently. And then Josh compared himself to Picasso! And now he's writing incomprehensible shit for AICN and making dumb jokes about his article, as if to laugh it all off. It's too late, Josh. You've already outed yourself as one of the douchiest people in Hollywood. Enjoy it for a few more years you fucking dirtbag.

  • March 15, 2010, 1:16 p.m. CST

    whats with the aicn staff writing about themselves?

    by akkosa

    no one gives a shit about you or how much you pretend that you are a film insider. <p> just shut the fuck up and write ABOUT the god damn movies.

  • March 15, 2010, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt was one of the best parts of Women In Troub

    by maceodkat

    and it was sort of a throwaway end of credits thing, but is what made me click on this article. great little movie, very funny, and can wait to see this follow up.

  • March 15, 2010, 7:15 p.m. CST

    Gray's Anatomy...

    by Kevin Bosch

    ...was the first Soderbergh movie I saw as a kid. Now he's my favorite director. I cant wait to see this doc.

  • March 15, 2010, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Let me ask you guys a film festival question...

    by Kevin Bosch

    ...regarding technical problems. Like the digital projector breaking. How do you feel about that, as an audience. Do you feel like the people who run the festival are just complete idiots, and that the festival itself is just a joke? Or is there a sense of understanding that shit happens, especially at events like these where they're trying to bring a lot of special things together? I just worked a film fest, in a tech adjacent position, where a few technical issues occurred at some screenings. All the new digital technology is making things harder. When it was all 35mm, the worst thing that could happen was the film would break, and then they fix it. But with Digibeta and HDCam, the whole night could be ruined by wrong settings or the wrong model deck. So, is there an expectation of perfection at these film festivals, or when stuff goes wrong, do you kinda go "oh well, it is a film festival"?

  • March 15, 2010, 9:16 p.m. CST

    "I will not read your fucking script" was fair.

    by Chifoilisk

    You do have to be a fairly big prick to ask someone you don't know very well to read your screenplay. And it is COMPLETELY true that you can tell that someone can't write, and will probably never be able to write, based on a couple of sentences. I wish this wasn't the case - I've gone through having a very good friend show me a book he was writing, and I don't care how many years he hones his craft, he will never be published. It sucks to be put through that.

  • March 16, 2010, 12:42 a.m. CST

    way to stereotype

    by mr. smith

    that "little texas trailer park" is one of the most posh bohemian enclaves in austin. hopefully you'll have the good taste to keep that shit unsaid when you're surrounded by the austinites who are hosting your party.

  • March 16, 2010, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Sebastian Gutierrez

    by jeffallee

    I was a real fan of this guy as an actor after seeing him star in "The Upstairs Neighbour" (1994). It was one of the best indie movies of the 90's and almost nobody has seen it. If you can ever find this movie watch it! It's one of the best films about someone completely losing their mind that I have ever seen and it has ending you will never forget.

  • March 16, 2010, 3:39 a.m. CST

    All you people complaining...

    by Crewman Number Six

    about the reviewers talking about themselves, have you only just joined us? Don't you know that's what sets this shit apart from Empire? No where else can you get five paragraphs on what Yoko ate for breakfast before the movie is even mentioned.