Big Fat Independent Movies

Sending Off SXSW Film 04

Reel Shorts Two

D: Various

SXSW has always boasted some terrific shorts programming, but two of the under-30-minute films here are so good they ought to be picked up and turned into minifranchises: Peter Craig's "The Climactic Death of Dark Ninja," in which a pack of pint-sized filmmakers take to the woods behind their parents' house and attempt – oh, how they attempt! – to shoot the title film is nothing less than a masterpiece of subtle comic timing. Kids are a pain to work with, sure, but somehow Craig and his crew manage to wrangle a half-dozen of 'em into a 12-minute short that wouldn't be out of place on SNL (back when they regularly showed short films and were, you know, funny). Jeremy Saulnier's "Crabwalk" is the other comic gem here, a gleeful, giddy poke at jobless slackers everywhere. Macon Blair's note-perfect portrayal of a young bum in training should be frighteningly familiar to anyone who has lived in Austin for more than a year, but far more bearable since you don't have to buy this loser a beer. High marks as well to David Holbrooke's "Time for a New God," a smart, Rabbinical look at what's up with The Man Upstairs.

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