The Heart Machine

SXSW 2014

When it came to driving the discussion about SXSW 2014, if you weren’t Lady Gaga, Edward Snowden or Grumpy Cat, you probably didn’t hit the trending list on Twitter. But let’s be honest with ourselves: we weren’t there to drive discussions online by taking selfies with a sad cat. We were there to watch movies and share them with all of you, our beloved readers who may not have been able to meet us in downtown Austin. Don’t worry though, you saved what amounts to hundreds of dollars in parking fees and we did all the work for you. In total, the programming team at South by Southwest selected over 130 films from over 2,000 submissions this year. It was a lot to take in, but we feel confident that we’ve narrowed our own list down to the 8 best films that played this year. To do so, each of the FSR writers who attended the festival each picked two films to highlight. That list, the definitive guide to SXSW films you should keep up with as they move on to potential releases, can be found herein. While you read it, we’ll still be trying to sleep off the late nights. Yes, we realize SXSW ended a week ago. Stop judging us.

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the heart machine gallagher

More than 15 years have passed since You’ve Got Mail, and online dating in the movies can still seem a little weird. Thanks to video chat programs like Skype, they’ve at least become more visual, but there’s still the issue of disconnect between characters that is obviously realistic but also heightened by the extra screen of the movie frame. When we see a couple talking through their computers, one of them is always going to seem extremely distant and also extremely confined by that computer window. It’s hard to feel something between two people in love through that barrier, even if we know what the experience is like, how that feeling can exist. It’s one of the very few things holding down The Heart Machine, an otherwise superb romantic drama that does seem conscious of having to grapple with such an obstacle. But the film’s pair, Cody and Virginia (John Gallagher Jr. and Kate Lyn Sheil), aren’t given a lot of comfort time to show us any true feelings. In the opening scene they’re Skyping, well into a relationship it seems, and on her end is the sound of a lot of emergency vehicle sirens. After they hang up, Cody goes to a sound effects website to remind himself of what a German ambulance actually sounds like, because as it turns out Virginia has led him to believe she’s in Berlin for six months. And that German ambulance clip is not what he heard on the call earlier. Suddenly he’s […]

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Meat Loaf and a member of the KISS Army in STAGE FRIGHT

Seems like just two months ago we were knee deep in Sundance coverage, but already we’ve moved on to the next big thing in film festival coverage. SXSW is the annual film/music/interactive extravaganza that draws film, music, and interactive(?) fans from all around the country to descend into Austin, TX for one hell of a good time. We here at FSR come for the movies (and the food and the friends), and this year our team is four strong and ready to rock. And by rock we mean sit in theater seats of varying levels of comfort, enjoy the culinary wonderland that is Austin’s food scene, and hang out with other like-minded characters. This year’s fest features a lot of titles we’re excited to devour with our eyes, but of the dozens of films we’ll be seeing this coming week we’ve narrowed down our top fourteen below. Neil Miller had to be talked out of putting The Raid 2 on here multiple times, Christopher Campbell moved outside his comfort zone to show interest in some narrative films, and Jack Giroux failed to realize that “anticipated” should really refer to movies he hasn’t seen yet. Keep reading to see which fourteen films we’re anticipating most at SXSW 2014.

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heart machine still

Nearly a year ago, I devoted the Fund This Film column to an indie feature called Funny Bunny in part because it was to star Kate Lyn Sheil, one of the most interesting young actresses working today. You should know her from such movies as The Comedy, The Color Wheel, V/H/S, Sun Don’t Shine, Somebody Up There Likes Me and maybe Listen Up Philip if you were at Sundance this year. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of Funny Bunny (which was funded and then made, and we’re still looking forward to it), and now here I am to spotlight another Kickstarter project with Sheil’s name attached. I can guarantee she’ll be in this one, as it’s already been shot and is set to debut in competition at SXSW next month. It’s called The Heart Machine. Co-starring with Sheil in this romance thriller is Short Term 12‘s John Gallagher, Jr. They play a couple who falls in love via the Internet, without ever meeting in person because they’re separated by the Atlantic Ocean. He’s in New York City and she’s in Berlin. Or maybe she’s not? Like a dark indie dramatization of a Catfish episode, there’s possibly some serious lies at the base of this relationship, and Gallagher’s character apparently becomes obsessed with investigating whether or not his online girlfriend has been in New York City the whole time. I find it appropriate — or maybe it’s ironic? — that a movie about not knowing what you’re getting on the […]

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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