Saturday, July 26, 2014
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SXSW Film: 'Songs From The Forest,' 'A Night In Old Mexico'

An ethnomusicologist in Africa, and a cowboy in Texas.

SXSW Film: 'Songs From The Forest,' 'A Night In Old Mexico'

Robert Duvall in ´A Night In Old Mexico´
Robert Duvall in 'A Night In Old Mexico'

The list of movies that I've tried and failed to get into at SXSW Film is now up to three, including the Tilda Swinton vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive, Michael Fassbender rock band comedy Frank and Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey Rear Window-update Open Windows.

Oh well. I have managed to see a couple of compelling films, both of which are, at heart, about fathers and sons (and grandsons). Songs From the Forest is a documentary about Louis Sarno, an ethnomusicologist originally from Newark, N.J. who, after hearing music performed by a Bayaka tribe in the Central African Republic in the mid-1980s, moved there and immersed himself in the culture, marrying a tribeswoman and raising a son. 

The fascinating story moves between the dense, lush African jungle and the steel canyons of New York city, where Sarno takes his 13 year old son Samedi on a trip to see what civliization looks like, and to hang out with his friend, Only Lovers director Jim Jarmusch. A quiet, beautiful to movie to look at, and hear..

I also caught A Night In Old Mexico, the Robert Duvall-vehicle written for him by Lonesome Dove screenwriter Bill Witliff. It concerns a crusty old rancher, played with charmng flair by Duvall.

When he loses his family ranch in Texas, the stubborn cowpoke decides on the spur of the moment to take a road trip across the border with his newfound grandson, played by Jeremy Irvine of War Horse. It's corny, and plot points involving stolen drug money and a stripper with a heart of gold (Angie Cepeda) are improbable. But the 83 year old Duvall, with his Tender Mercies cowboy hat back on, is a wonder to behold. It's expected to hit theaters in May.

Previously: Is SXSWInteractive the nerdiest place on earth? Follow In The Mix on Twitter

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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