Despite what certain uninformed and thoroughly useless contributors on other websites might think, South by Southwest is probably one of the most enjoyable festivals to attend. While Toronto, Cannes, and Sundance get the prestige, SXSW is by far the more entertaining. Ten days of films and music spread across an amazing landscape of killer theatres and awesome bars. The Alamo Drafthouse is probably one of the raddest venues imaginable: a glorious combination of bar and grindhouse. SXSW is laidback, giving as much credence to local filmmaking as the major studio releases. Austin’s got a proud film heritage: Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Tim McCandles. And lest we forget, this year’s best picture winner — and no I will never get tired of saying that — premiered at last year’s festival. And I fucking missed it.
After perusing this year’s lineup, there’s been some genuine glee across the interwebs. My original flick wishlist was almost 65 movies deep. There are several big marquee flicks including The Runaways with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning and the potential powderkeg Macgruber. But these ten flicks are the ones that are getting the most buzz right now. Pajiba’s gonna be covering the festival this year, with four intrepid critics on the scene.
10. Red, White and Blue: One of the best parts of the festival is how much credence and love is shown to the city of Austin itself. This indie flick has the potential to be another breakout on the level of The Hurt Locker.
Synopsis: Erica (Amanda Fuller) spends her nights trawling the bars and beds of Austin. Emotionally withdrawn, sleeping with multiple men is just what she does… until she meets the older and mysterious Nate (Noah Taylor), who claims to have an “honorable discharge” from Iraq. Despite his air of danger, Nate’s the only guy who doesn’t just seem to want to get her into bed, and the two form a hesitant bond. But one of Erica’s casual sexual encounters, Franki (Marc Senter) - a young, hot-headed wannabe rock star trying to make it big - is about to return dramatically into her life… Franki “shared” Erica with his buddies one drunken evening. A cruel twist of fate is all it takes to throw his already crazy world into a spin, and in Franki’s eyes there is only one person to blame…
9. Winter’s Bone: Some smarmy bastard critics piss on SXSW for picking up flicks that have already premiered at other festivals like Sundance or TIFF. Congrats, you paid several thousand dollars to freeze your nuts off in Utah. I’m eating a burrito the size of a baby while drinking beers for a fraction of the cost. Meanwhile, I still get to see this harrowing flick with potential to be a breakout Fish Tank. One to nothing, fucko.
Synopsis: 17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods of Southern Missouri. To find him, Ree confronts the dangerous world of the Dolly family. With the reluctant help of her hard-bitten uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) and her best friend Gail, Ree defies her outlaw clan’s code of silence, hacking her way through their lies, evasions and threats to piece together the truth. Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, WINTER’S BONE recently won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting awards at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
8. Micmacs: If you don’t love Jean-Pierre Jeunet, there’s something fucking wrong with you. Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, Amelie, and well, yeah the fourth Alien flick. And this one sounds like some Michel Gondry level shit, so I’m feverishly excited. Enough to have actually blown off the Michel Gondry flick that’s also premiering.
Synopsis: Bazil was raised an orphan and has a bullet lodged in his brain from an accident years ago. A gentle natured dreamer, he is adopted by a motley crew of junkyard dealers living in a veritable Ali Baba’s cave, whose talents and aspirations are as surprising as they are diverse: Remington, Calculator, Buster, Slammer, Elastic Girl, Tiny Pete & Mama Chow. With the help of this faithful band of wacky friends, Bazil sets out to creatively take revenge on the weapons manufacturers that caused his accident. Underdogs battling heartless industrial giants, our gang relive the battle of David and Goliath, with imagination and fantasy reminiscent of Buster Keaton.
7. Monsters: TK already showed you the trailer and gave you the skinny on what’s being touted as “District Nueve.” Just one of the many solid horror fare that owns the festivals “Fantastic Fest Midnight Screenings.”
Synopsis: Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after new life forms began to appear there and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE.
Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain “the creatures”…
Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
6. Saturday Night: James Franco made a documentary. About “Saturday Night Live”? Hosted by John Malkovich? While the behind the scenes coming together of an SNL episode makes for a pretty interesting doc, I’m more curious to see if Franco can handle a camera.
Synopsis: Have you ever wondered how a sketch was chosen for Saturday Night Live? Or why some actors are in more sketches than others? With John Malcovich hosting the episode and unprecedented access to the behind the scenes action, watch as Franco takes an observational approach in documenting what it takes to create one full episode.
5. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: You know, sometimes I have to make the hard sell on projects, convincing you why you should want to see a flick. Then there are other times where the synopsis does all the work for me. And one of the redneck brothers is Alan Tudyk. You’re welcome.
Synopsis: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a backwoods comedy of horrific errors in which two unsuspecting buddies, Tucker and Dale, fall victim to the crazed machinations of a group of spring breakers who have mistaken them for backwoods killers! When Dale shelves his phobia of the opposite sex to rescue one of the college co-eds from drowning, all her friends see is a bearded psychopath hauling their friend away to a shack in the middle of the woods. In trying to rescue their friend, the spring breakers continually off themselves one by one and Tucker and Dale try to figure out why these college kids are killing themselves all over Tucker’s property!
4. The People v. George Lucas
No one has created more beloved films and yet become more hated than George Lucas. Lucas has shat all over the legacy he built in recent years, and this documentary takes the fat bearded cock to task. But you know, in a fair and balanced manner. I will never forgive you digital Hayden Christensen.
Synopsis: THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS is a no-holds-barred, completely uncensored, yet balanced cultural examination of the conflicted dynamic between the great George Lucas and his fans over the past three decades. Chock-full of impassioned interviews, stop-motion and 3D animation, Super 8 action figure films, puppet rants and many other surprises, this unique participatory doc is the ultimate expression of the fans’ obsession for a man and a universe that defined an entire generation.
3. Barry Munday: Patrick Wilson, who earned my adoration for his awesome turn in Hard Candy, plays a dude who gets his junk cut off. We’ve talked about the trailer on Pajiba earlier this month.
Synopsis: Barry Munday, a suburban wanna-be ladies man, wakes up in the hospital after being attacked in a movie theater, only to realize that he is missing one of his most prized possessions… his testicles. To make matters worse, Barry learns he’s facing a paternity lawsuit from a woman he can’t remember having sex with. Filled with an ensemble of unusual characters, “Barry Munday” is the surprisingly heart-warming tale of a guy who finds it took losing his manhood to be a better man.
2. Cyrus: Remember The Promotion? Of course you don’t, fuckers. But that little indie darling made me a believer in John C. Reilly and Seann William Scott. Here’s hoping the Brothers Duplass can do the same with Reilly and what appears to be a surprisingly awesome Jonah Hill. This might be the flick that makes us forgive him his trespasses.
Synopsis: With John’s social life at a standstill and his ex-wife about to get remarried, a down on his luck divorcee finally meets the woman of his dreams, only to discover she has another man in her life - her son. Written and directed by Jay & Mark Duplass, the iconoclastic filmmaking team behind Sundance Film Festival favorite THE PUFFY CHAIR, CYRUS takes an insightful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking look at love and family in contemporary Los Angeles.
1. Kick-Ass: Even though The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is playing first, this is gonna be the official kick-off to the festival. Mark Millar’s comic about a wannabe teen who becomes a superhero is great, but the real star is bound to be Chloe Moretz as the foul-mouthed, limb hacking hellion Hit-Girl.
Synopsis: KICK-ASS tells the story of average teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a comic-book fanboy who decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. As any good superhero would, he chooses a new name — Kick-Ass — assembles a suit and mask to wear, and gets to work fighting crime. There’s only one problem standing in his way: Kick-Ass has absolutely no superpowers whatsoever. His life is forever changed as he inspires a subculture of copy cats, meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes —including an 11-year-old sword-wielding dynamo, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) —and forges a friendship with another fledgling crimefighter, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But thanks to the scheming of a local mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong),that new alliancewill be put to the test.