×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SXSW Film Review: ‘Paradox’

Daryl Hannah and Neil Young join forces for a hazy-lazy Western pastiche.

Director:
Daryl Hannah
With:
Neil Young, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Willie Nelson, Corey McCormick, Anthony LoGerfo, Tato Melgar, Charris Ford, Dulcie Clarkson Ford.

Think of it as a piece of anti-nostalgia. “Paradox,” a waste of time made bearable only by its brevity, plays like a bad acid flashback from the 1970s, a time when similarly self-conscious trippy pastiches of rock music and genre conventions proliferated on the midnight-movie circuit. Think of “Zachariah” or “Rainbow Bridge,” no matter how hard you’ve tried to forget them, and you’ll have some idea what awaits you here. And if you’ve never seen those films, well, consider yourself fortunate. You might do well to keep your lucky streak going.

“Paradox” bills Daryl Hannah as its “auteur” (seriously, that’s just what it says in the closing credits) but it appears her chief contribution to this enervating oddity was shouting “Action!” or “Cut!” at appropriate moments. There is little sign that she offered direction, or even polite suggestions, to a cowboy-costumed cast that includes iconic rocker Neil Young as the aptly named Man in the Black Hat; fellow musicians Lukas and Micah Nelson (accomplished-in-their-own-right sons of Willie Nelson) as, respectively, Jail Time and the Particle Kid; a few other members Lukas’ band Promise of the Real; and Willie Nelson himself (fleetingly) as an aged desperado.

More than a third of the movie is given over to interminable vamping and what-the-hell anachronisms as these “actors” eat, curse, philosophize, defecate — behind the doors of an outhouse, thankfully — and generally behave more like musicians enjoying downtime than Wild West outlaws lying low at an abandoned stagecoach station. (Before you ask: Yes, there are indications of herbal consumption.) A sampling of the hazy-lazy dialogue: “Anarchy rules!” “That’s an oxymoron!” “What did you call me?” And, mind you, that is one of the funnier exchanges.

Cinematographer Adam CK Vollick deserves credit for a few clever visual quotes from westerns by Sergio Leone and other masters. And every so often Hannah and her players hint at an underlying back-to-nature theme, as Young and Willie Nelson rob a seed bank (presumably to plant a sustainable crop of some kind), and Micah Nelson — whose attire suggests a Wild West cyberpunk — uncovers artifacts from a now-extinct, technologically advanced society (or something like that). But that is not nearly enough to distract you from stealing frequent and increasingly desperate glances at your watch.

Eventually, Young and Promise of the Real get around to performing a set of new and classic songs — most notably, an extended version of Young’s mournful “Pocahontas” — in what looks like a revival meeting tent. The makeshift concert (which, truth to tell, is the only excuse for this film’s existence) is more than passably entertaining, especially if you’re a longtime Young fan, but it would be much easier to enjoy if Hannah or Young or whoever hadn’t dreamed up the conceit of bandmates needing to tether themselves to the ground before being lifted skyward (raptured?) by the music.

Viewers might require comparable restraint to make it to the end of “Paradox” when it begins streaming March 23 on Netflix.

SXSW Film Review: 'Paradox'

Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Headliners), March 15, 2018. Running time: 73 MIN.

Production: A Netflix release and presentation of a Shakey Pictures production. Producers: Bernard Shakey, Elliott Rabinowitz.

Crew: Director, writer: Daryl Hannah. Camera (color): Adam CK Vollick. Editor: Paul Snyder. Music: Neil Young, Promise of the Real.

With: Neil Young, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Willie Nelson, Corey McCormick, Anthony LoGerfo, Tato Melgar, Charris Ford, Dulcie Clarkson Ford.

More Film

  • WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make

    WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents are Fired

    The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7. The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made [...]

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD More Reviews Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’ Sara Bareilles Premieres New Songs, Declares Love for Obama at Intimate L.A. Show The 80th anniversary [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” More Reviews Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’ Sara Bareilles Premieres New Songs, Declares Love for Obama at Intimate L.A. Show Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content