SXSW 2014: Rubber Soul, Ping Pong Summer, & Open Windows
Rubber Soul reenacts two in-depth interviews of John Lennon that were conducted ten years apart from each other. No words of Lennon’s were altered during this reconstruction, though the film does jump between the two interviews, sometimes revealing contradictory statements made from the former Beatle. In one interview, Lennon states how he and Paul McCartney rarely ever wrote songs together, but in the other he recants by saying that two did in fact do writing together.
Most of the film consists of Lennon going on long rants about The Beatles. A few of the antidotes are noteworthy, however, the majority of these interviews end up being more of a meaningless ramble. Die-hard Lennon fans will obviously get the most out of Rubber Soul, but strictly Beatles fans may not gain much more insight than what is already widely known. At one point Lennon acknowledges that all artists are egotistical, the film reveals that he might be the biggest of both.
Ping Pong Summer
It would be very inquisitive to see what the reactions are to Ping Pong Summer from people who are unfamiliar with the pop culture of 1980’s–since the film is filled to the brim with 80s slang, grainy and desaturated picture, cheesy crossfades, perms, bright neon colored clothing, and unnecessarily gigantic boomboxes. Those who know that a suicide drink is a mix of all the available flavors will have a totally rad time with the film, and those who never used a cassette tape will likely be very confused.
Ping Pong Summer is a family vacation movie where an awkward teenager travels with his middle-class family to a beach town where he instantly falls in love with a cute girl while making enemies with a rich preppy bully. The central conflict in the film centers on the game of ping pong, when a challenge is made between the sworn enemies to see who rightfully gets the territory of the table and winning the heart of the girl. Ping Pong Summer uses just about every cinematic 80s cliché in the book, purposely making the plotline and outcomes very familiar. It is an approach that ultimately works, even if it does lay it on a bit thick.
By now people familiar with the work of director Nacho Vigalondo’s should expect an edgy high-concept story is in store, and that’s exactly what Open Windows delivers, and then some. The film hits the ground running from the start when an obsessed fanboy (Elijah Wood) wins a contest to have dinner with his fixation, actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). While eagerly waiting in his hotel room to meet the actress, news that the contest has suddenly been cancelled is brought to his attention by a mysterious man (Neil Maskell). But the man has something for him far better than a dinner date, camera surveillance of her from every angle and complete access to her phone.
Undeniably impressive is the fact that almost the entire film is shown on a computer screen that simulates a webcam feed between all of the characters. While Vigalondo does take some liberties with how technology operates, the overall concept of how easy it is to be tracked and watched online is very real. If anything Open Windows is an exploitation of technology, specifically internet surveillance. This is an incredibly fast paced thriller that contains so many plot twists that a second or third viewing will not only be required, but also preferred. Some are saying Open Windows is a 21st century Rear Window, a comparison that I would agree is rather reasonable.