It’s that time again. The 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited. For the second year in a row, we’re covering one of our favorite American film festivals as an Austin-based publication. In 2008, when Brian Gibson and I first traveled from Ohio to Austin, it was a pretty magical experience. We met countless interesting people, saw an amazing selection of films, and experienced first hand that SXSW isn’t a film market for the industry, it’s a film market for the fans. Since then, Reject HQ has relocated to Austin and we’ve asserted our own home field advantage on SXSW. And last year’s coverage was top-notch.
This year, we’re doing it all again. Brian Gibson has flown in from the great white north of Ohio to join myself, Culture Warrior Landon Palmer and Junkfood Cinema assassin Brian Salisbury as we get set to attack SXSW 2010. The line-up is strong, our numerous preview articles are in place and we’re brought our appetite for Alamo Drafthouse food. It is, as the old cliché goes, “go time.”
To ensure that we are all on the right page as we head into tomorrow’s opening day, we must execute the yearly tradition of laying down our list of must see movies at this year’s festival. It’s usually a pretty good list. Remember last year’s list, when we forced you to see The Hurt Locker, Moon, Lesbian Vampire Killers and Anvil! The Story of Anvil? How did that work out for you? Pretty good, eh?
Like the fest’s line-up itself, this year’s list a diverse selection that spans genre — everything from documentary to drama, to comedy, action and horror. We even have a bit of the weird. Then again, you know we wouldn’t have it any other way.
With no other place making for a fitting start to our list, we begin where SXSW itself begins, with the opening night film. The heat emanating from Matthew Vaughn’s film here in Austin is so hot that it rivals I-35 in mid-summer, 110-degree heat. This violent, vulgar, energy-overload of an action flick made a sneaky premiere at Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-a-Thon back in December, and the buzz it generated has been powering the city ever since. We’re told that it’s a sh*t-storm of fun, contains an a**load of violence and will bring joy to a f**kton of people when it beats SXSW over the head with the blunt instrument of kids being badass. Yeah, that’s something we can get behind. – Neil Miller
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Having reviewed this little horror comedy back in January at Sundance, I can say in no uncertain, speculation-less terms that Tucker and Dale are a pair of hillbillies that you’ll not only grow to love, you’ll love to root for them as they combat the wicked college-age weekenders who think they’re living out a scene from Deliverance. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are a dynamite duo, mixing comedy with blood to concoct a delicious potion that will have you demanding that every “parody” or “spoof” that is released in the future be as loving and respectful to the genre they choose to send up. – Neil Miller
Sadly, this is one of the few documentaries on our list. And while we aren’t beating down theater doors to see a wide range of docs, we know that there will be a lot of pleasant surprises. SXSW is good like that. That said, this little doc from Amy Elliott, Elizabeth Donius isn’t quite so little at all. It chronicles the towns across America that may be small, but have big aspirations. And by aspirations, they have big balls of yarn, giant killer bees, mammoth wheels of cheese and other oddities that make them tourist attractions. Because having the biggest anything is big business. Right? – Neil Miller
Director Jean Pierre Jeunet may have already made the most delightful and adorable movie in the history of man with Amelie, but he’s not done making us smile at oddity. The story of an unfortunate man who finds his place among a gang of salvage collectors, Micmacs is also a fun, energetic tale of revenge and war profiteering, assembled with love and imagination, and just the right amount of spare parts. Trust me, this will all make sense when you see the film. – Neil Miller
Dogtooth‘s premiere at this year’s Cannes film festival left audiences scratching their heads in bewilderment and frustration, polarizing audiences who saw the film as either a work of no-holds-barred brilliance or the worst type of artful self-indulgence. A friend of mine described the film as Funny Games-squared. I have no idea what this means, but it makes me want to see the film that much more and assess where on the extreme dividing lines my take on this impenetrable art project lies. – Landon Palmer
No One Knows About Persian Cats
While this movie was made half a world away, No One Knows About Persian Cats is, in many ways, the perfect movie to screen at SXSW. The film marries cinema with the rebellious culture of indie music, thus manifesting in of itself the two best-known aspects of SXSW week at large in Austin: indie movies and indie music. The film tells the tale of Iranian musicians trying to spread their message and art in a country where their activities are illegal and violently punishable. It’s a statement on the literal social value of popular music, and how it still has the capability to be truly revolutionary in many parts of the world. – Landon Palmer
Enter the Void
Eight years ago, Gaspar Noe released one of the most controversial films of this past decade, Irreversible. He’s finally followed this film up with a 2.5+ hour epic on ghosts, strippers, drug dealing, and Tokyo. Noe is a controversial character, and his movies blur the line between art and exploitation, but they’re never uninteresting or visually dull. Even if his work is highly confrontational and disturbing, it always keeps the viewer locked in, and I for one can’t wait to see where this intriguing filmmaker takes me next. – Landon Palmer