SXSW 2002 Film Reviews
D: Circumstance; with Russell Crowe.
Documentary Feature, Special Screenings
Oscar-totin', antipodean hunkster Russell Crowe came to town to introduce the premiere of Texas, the documentary about his side-project band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts' trip to Austin. "As one guy put it," began the scruffy, self-effacing movie star, "'music is its own reward.'" Were this true, were music truly the message, this 567,000 odd feet of groan-inducing footage would've been comfortable premiering at, say, the 59-seat theatre at the Hideout. The only reason Texas showed in such a prestigious slot was Russell Crowe. Is that such a bad thing? Well, if you aren't a Russ devotee, it is. Fortunately, fans of the beefy Aussie were in attendance in legion at the Paramount Theatre, and if the laughter in all the intended spots is any indicator, they "get" the band and loved this peek behind the scenes. But for the rest of us, it was two hours of mildly annoying torture, like a VH1 Behind the Music marathon gone terribly wrong: See TOFOG as they really are -- a marginally decent pub-rock band with a famous lead singer! See TOFOG having their 15 minutes! See TOFOG mug insipidly! See TOFOG desperately try to communicate to anyone who'll listen, "We're just regular blokes ... no, really!" Bright spots? Sure. As a straightforward love letter to fans, it's sweet. The filmmakers avoid exploiting the mostly forty/fiftysomething group of devoted bra-flinging female fanatics for yuks, and in these days of T&As and Girls Gone Wild, that is somehow noble. As a love letter to Austin, it's also sweet; these guys clearly loved being here. And as an odd exploration of the truism that states that musicians really want to be movie stars and vice versa, it unwittingly succeeds (albeit, sans psychoanalysis). Unfortunately, despite the "Live Music Capital of the World" setting, what Texas can't address is this: What is the difference between playing a rock star and being one? -- Kate X Messer