SXSW film review: Al Pacino flops in “Manglehorn,” while Sally Field shines in “My Name is Doris”

Alex Pelham

Festival-goers at South By Southwest evidently know which headliners and other popular films to see this year, as lines to gain entry to the theaters stretched several blocks and even crossed streets with heavy traffic. The line for last night’s “The Final Girls” looked endless, and Al Pacino’s “Manglehorn” drew a crowd nearly an hour and a half before the film’s start. Los Angeles literary manager and Film Badgeholder Jeff Portnoy said that, while the lines are lengthy, they pale in comparison to those found at other festivals.

“Compared to other festivals like Sundance and Toronto, it’s not nearly as bad,” Portnoy said. “It’s about one hour [wait time before film starts] minimum to get into the films for the most part. Two hours if it’s a headliner or world premiere.”

The giant lines may frighten SXSW rookies, but they should know that many theaters can hold hundreds of guests. Some smaller theaters, such as the Alamo Ritz, are harder to get into, but most venues are easily accessible. Of course, that still means beaing willing to wait in lengthy lines. Portnoy said that he knows when standing in line’s a lost cause.

“It depends on the film,” Portnoy said. “I’ll do two hours for some films and an hour for others. Waiting for more than two hours isn’t worth it for me.”

Fortunately, I made it in to a few films today. Here are my thoughts.


“Manglehorn” is such a slow slog of a film. Following Al Pacino’s character as he deals with his inner turmoil would be more interesting if his problems were clearer. Sure, he doesn’t like people, but he never gives much indication as to why he’s so anti-social. The narrative is hazy and unfocused, and the film tries to be artsy with its grating narration and odd, gimmicky editing.

Al Pacino isn’t horrible and certainly tries his best to make the character work, but it’s hard to get invested when the story feels all over the place. There are some good comedic moments, most of them involving Pacino’s relations with his cat and a tanning salon owner, but “Manglehorm” ultimately falls flat.

Rating: 4/10 Cats

My Name is Doris 

Editor's note: Our reporter had to leave early in order to secure a spot for another film. These are histhoughts from what he saw.

“My Name is Doris” proves that it’s impossible not to love Sally Field. Her character, an elderly, love-struck accountant who attempts to date a much younger co-worker, is so likeable and sympathetic. Her attempts to fit into the world of the millennial generation are hilarious. The film also brilliantly mocks the common stereotypes of the hipster culture.

“Doris” is a good comedy about a character who, while out of her element, is surprisingly adaptable to her new surroundings. It’s interesting that she can blend into the millennial scene and actually begin to fit in. With great humor and good performances, the film portrays a modern day “fish-out-of-water” story and gives it heart.

Rating 7/10 Dancing Sally Fields

—Alex Pelham