Sat. May 21st, 2022


That’s just one amazing story featured in the fascinating documentary “Spaz,” which profiles a rebel spirit and brilliant mind that deserves greater attention. Williams was not given Oscar kudos for his work on those two films, despite his direct artistry being put on display, and like other people that he worked alongside (including his buddy Mark Tippé), struggled to get certain recognition under it. The documentary focuses on how Williams became the type of oddball who pushes an industry forward, who thinks outside the box and bring that intensity to a workplace that is about innovation, but also still about power. (“Spaz” has some great insight into the drama behind the scenes at ILM, humanizing everyone for good and bad.) 

But then people like Williams can also get left behind when it comes to credit, and in turn we start to think about effects teams as faceless or as computerized as what they create. “Spaz” is, among many things, a great reminder to appreciate visual effects as an art-form that (in soulful blockbusters, at least), continues to push what we believe to be real. 

That’s only half of the story, and “Spaz” does a great service to its subject by reckoning with his alcoholism. His behavior, his immaturity, his intensity, his experience of rejection and certain creative failures, it all has a darker side to it. In between moments of speaking to the camera, a sadder image of isolation grows, coupled with all the times that he is seen drinking. Director Scott Lebrecht’s focus on the story then captures how Williams starts to face a problem that has affected his life so deeply, and lovingly presents his flaws. “I’ve never been an adult,” says Williams, a few seconds later before he is then heard saying, “I’m an alcoholic.” 

“Spaz” beautifully balances its reverence for an underestimated underdog with this more real side; it’s the kind of documentary that enhances your appreciation for some of the best films ever made. The “Jurassic Park” dinosaurs walked as they did, because Williams was brilliant and determined enough to make it so. 

Taking after his previous documentary “Rebuilding Paradise,” Ron Howard observes another force of good going up against natural disasters in “We Feed People,” which had its premiere on the last day of SXSW. The hero in this case if chef José Andrés, whose World Central Kitchen organization works around the world to feed people hot meals when disaster strikes. He brings his kitchen-honed organization with food and his high energy, to these efforts that make thousands of meals for people who need them, whether it’s in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, or in America during the initial Covid-19 outbreak. Howard’s film pays tribute to his resilience and dedication, while also showing that what Andrés is doing could easily be a part of government support. 

By admin