SXSW: Tuesday with migraine

Tuesday was pretty uneventful. I don’t have a lot to report. I saw only one movie, despite ambitious plans to see three.
I don’t know if the movies are triggering migraines, or if it’s the sudden change in weather having a bad effect on my sinuses, or if I’m stressed at work in the mornings and then when I get to the movie theaters in the afternoons the sudden switch from work stress to theater happiness triggers a migraine. Or what. Maybe I need new glasses. But I sit down in the nice dark theater and I can feel the beginning of a headache. Or a migraine. Or something evil.
And this has been happening every single day. I am not supposed to take a migraine pill every single day, it makes horns grow on your head or your face turn into a blueberry or something.

Anyway, this is mostly why I saw one movie on Tuesday. I am enough of a film geek that I had to sit down calmly and tell myself it was okay if I wanted to see only one film that day. The sky would not fall. I have already seen enough movies to justify getting the film pass instead of paying per movie. Everything is fine. Also, none of the Tuesday night movies looked all that exciting to me.
I stopped off at my house after work to get my jacket before I left for the theater, because it was getting windy and chilly outside. The weather for SXSW started off so beautifully, as if Austin wanted to show off for all the visitors, with gorgeous sunny days and the bluebonnets out and everything lovely. But for the past two days we’ve been returning to the nasty gray rainy days we’ve been suffering through all winter. Ugh.
My boyfriend was still at home; he never did make it to the SXSW Interactive events on Tuesday. I told him I was going to see The Last Mogul, a documentary about Lew Wasserman, at Alamo South. He asked if he could come with me, which I thought would be delightful.
I must say that it is a lot more enjoyable to see a SXSW movie with my boyfriend. I wish we could have been in the same line while we were waiting (he had to stand in the individual ticket line, while I stayed in the film pass line so I could save a good seat for him). That would have been perfect. But I did see some people I knew and we got to wait in the lobby instead of outside and it didn’t take very long.
One big advantage of having my boyfriend with me was that I could lift up the armrest between our seats and scoot closer to him, which gave me a lot more room. The SXSW screenings have been full enough that I rarely have an empty seat next to me, and if there’s a guy sitting next to me, he will automatically hog the armrest and even push his arm into the area that is supposed to be mine. My seat space. Damn those seat hogs. It was a lot easier for me to sit comfortably and take notes in my little notebook when I could lean up against my boyfriend a bit.
Also, it is just plain nice to have someone to chat with before the movie. This was my boyfriend’s first trip to Alamo South so we talked about that, and ordered drinks and popcorn (the drinks arrived about an hour after the popcorn, and I am not exaggerating … I guess the waitstaff still are in the learning phase) and watched the silly pre-movie shorts that Alamo shows. They appeared to have different shorts this time, I am happy to say.
It was a shame that The Last Mogul wasn’t very good, since this is the only SXSW movie my boyfriend might get to see.
First of all, it was narrated in a Voice of God way, which I don’t particularly like. Second of all, it tried to cover all of Wasserman’s life in two hours without any real focal point or theme. It was just a travelogue of someone’s life, suitable for a weeknight on PBS or the Biography series on A&E. I would have enjoyed seeing such a documentary on TV while working on the computer, but it was disappointing to see on a movie screen during a film festival.
It was obvious that there were some fascinating aspects of Lew Wasserman’s life: the fact that he avoided documenting anything, avoided interviews and publicity, and verged on the paranoiaic about leaving any kind of paper trail. I would have enjoyed seeing more speculation on why this was, or a better explanation. This detail was mentioned at the beginning of the movie, probably to explain why that information was missing from the movie, and barely touched upon again.
We got no real sense of the man’s personal life, either. The point may have been that his business life was his personal life, but the documentary did not mention that he had a daughter until the very end of the movie, then mentioned in passing that they had been estranged and did not explain why.
The documentary lingered on the allegations of organized-crime influence in Wasserman’s career. In fact, too much time was spent detailing every single possible connection to organized crime, including the names and backgrounds of people who were then only mentioned once or twice. It was a little confusing to remember all the names and connections and there was no real payoff in terms of the affect on Wasserman’s life.
I understand that we have no record of Wasserman’s personal opinions, as we might have with other people who corresponded on paper and kept paper appointment books and that kind of thing. In many cases, we can only speculate. Still, was it that difficult to find people to interview? Is the problem that Wasserman’s wife is still alive, or that many of his cronies are dead? I have no idea. This is one time I would have liked having a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards, but they weren’t present.
After the movie, we went to Hill’s Cafe, since we were already down south and wanted hamburgers. The hostess seated us in a booth, but before I could sit down, my boyfriend called her back. “Could you seat us somewhere else?” he asked, and I realized why. Each booth at Hill’s has the name of a Texas personality on it, with a photograph and other related memorabilia surrounding it. The hostess had seated us at the Rick Perry table. My boyfriend did not want to have to stare at Governor Goodhair while we were eating, and I couldn’t blame him.
The hostess kindly moved us to a booth named after people we did not know (too bad we didn’t get the Willie Nelson corner) and she did confess that we were not the only people who had trouble with the Rick Perry booth. Apparently she would walk past the booth sometimes to find out that the diners there had covered the name and photo with menus and napkins so they would not have to look at the guy. I love Austin. (A few minutes later, some law enforcement officers took the booth without comment or complaint.)
The hamburgers were very tasty, although the buns there are a bit soggy and I had to get extra napkins. After dinner, we went home and I nursed my migraine, or headache, or whatever it was for most of the evening while my boyfriend watched the DVD of Primary Colors. I watched a little bit of it, mostly the end. The movie made me feel slightly nostalgic and sad. I hadn’t wanted to see it when it was released, because I was sick of all of the politics that it reflected. Nowadays that seems almost quaint, comparatively speaking. Perhaps the movie will enjoy a revival at some point. The cast was first-rate, particularly Kathy Bates, whom I can watch in damn near anything.
I have three movies scheduled for Wednesday, but I suspect I may see just two of them. Two is enough for me. We’ll see. Most of all, I am hoping and praying for a migraine-free day.

4 thoughts on “SXSW: Tuesday with migraine”

  1. I thought the documentary came alive when Wasserman hit Hollywood. Before that, it was all “voice of god” over clips and stills. Now, you had people telling interesting stories about him and his life. As Jette mentioned, things bog down again when the innuendo over crime connections is covered, and it never quite got me back.
    I thought the strength of the documentary that was it created a thorough historical record on a guy who didn’t leave a lot of evidence behind. The weak point is that it didn’t provide a lot of insight into the fascinating parts of that record.
    Primary Colors rocked. It’s the second most awesome DVD I’ve seen in recent weeks, after The Cooler.

  2. Jette – I’m sorry you’re feeling so cruddy.
    Somewhat unrelated to this post – have you heard anything about the Rebecca Miller-directed film (starring her hubby Daniel Day-Lewis)? It’s having a second showing on Friday evening and I am wondering if it is worth trying to see. I’m wondering what the buzz is, if there is any.
    I haven’t seen any SxSW films this year, but I’m willing to pay to see that one.

  3. Yeah, a guy seated next to a woman always assumes the armrest is automatically his, and even worse, on an airplane, he will figure that it’s okay to let his legs and knees sprawl all over your space, too, with his feet planted in front of you.
    Being with your own guy and having a lift-up armrest is the BEST, even if the movie isn’t wonderful.
    Sorry for the rant… hope the headaches stay away!!

Comments are closed.