We’ve been through the schedule for the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, a few times. In fact between our own scouring of the schedule and the countless emails from publicists, producers and directors — which we like because they make us think that people like us — we are confident that we’ve got a handle on which films you should absolutely see at all costs should you be coming here to Austin this weekend. Therefore we humbly present our definitive list of the 15 Films You Must See at South by Southwest 2009:
When, Christian Forteski’s (Peter Marshall) drug addicted daughter dies after appearing in an amateur Porn Video, he deals with his grief by burning, kicking, smashing and stabbing his way through those responsible. And as you know, we are huge fans of the burning, kicking, smashing and stabbing stuff. Sounds badass. Screening times: Monday March 16th @ 11:30p (Alamo Lamar 2), Tuesday March 17th @ 11:30p (Alamo Lamar 2).
Lynn Shelton’s much applauded Sundance debut that follows the journey between two friends (Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard) and their journey to film the one thing that the people need: two completely heterosexual men having sex on camera. Having seen this ourselves, we can attest to the fact that it is the single most awkward, but fun movie that you will see this year in Austin. Screening times: Sunday March 15th @ 7p (Alamo Ritz 1), Thursday March 19th @ 12p (Paramount).
Make-Out With Violence
If you’re down for a long, strange trip about unrequited love and a young man with the hots for a missing girl who shows back up undead, this movie is a strong bet. It defies being nailed into any specific genre – looking a bit like if Stand By Me ended with the body coming to life, and then the real story started up. It deals with death, friendship, and the perils of having a crush on a zombie. Screening times: Saturday March 14th @ 8p (Alamo Ritz 2), Tuesday March 17th @ 9p (Alamo Lamar 1), Saturday March 21st @ 9:30p (Alamo Lamar 3).
Best Worst Movie
In 1989, unwitting Utah actors starred in the undisputed Worst Movie in History: Troll 2. Two decades later, the legendarily inept film’s child star unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of an Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie icon and an Italian filmmaker who come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure. Now we know that some of you may not have ever heard of Troll 2, but that’s okay. No one’s perfect. Screening times: Saturday March 14th @ 9:30p (Alamo Lamar 1), Monday March 16th @ 4p (Paramount), Friday March 20th @ 9:30p (Austin Convention Ctr).
Observe and Report
Seth Rogen and Anna Faris star in a mall cop comedy that may actually appeal to the readers of this site. No goofy humor, no Kevin James sliding across the floor and getting stuck — this time we get Seth Rogen trying to pick up the make-up counter girl (Faris) who also happens to be a raging drunk lady. It comes from The Foot Fist Way director Jody Hill, so that works perfectly for us. Another thing that works perfectly for us — word on the street is that this movie is everything you wouldn’t expect it to be; very dark, very “f*cked up,” as the kids might say. Screening times: Monday March 16th @ 9:30p (Paramount).
After losing her unborn child, Madeline Matheson insists on carrying the baby to term. Following the delivery, the child miraculously returns to life, but when the baby develops a desperate appetite for human blood, Madeline is faced with a mother’s ultimate decision. That’s the premise. Here’s something else that matters: people who saw this at Sundance this year were passing out, literally. It’s hardcore horror at its best. Screening times: Saturday March 14th @ 11:59p (Alamo Ritz 1), Tuesday March 17th @ 11:59p (Alamo Ritz 1), Saturday March 21st @ 11:59p (Alamo Ritz 1).
Made in China
Slinkys, Pet Rocks, Ant Farms, behind each of those great novelties is the story of a great Novelty Inventor. And this is a story about one such novelty inventor, a wannabe named Johnson. And in order to get his big idea — a “humorous domestic hygiene product” — into production, he travels to China, where anything is possible and everything has its price. As he attempts to climb into the world of novelty, Johnson quickly finds out that it takes more than a million dollar idea to make it big. Screening times: Sunday March 15th @ 11a (Alamo Ritz 1), Monday March 16th @ 11:30a (Alamo Lamar 2), Thursday March 19th @ 6p (Alamo Ritz 2).
We Live in Public
On the 40th anniversary of the Internet, We Live in Public tells the story of the effect the web is having on our society as seen through the eyes of ‘the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of,’ visionary Josh Harris. Having seen this movie at Sundance, we can attest to the fact that it fits perfectly in the SXSW lineup. SXSW is a festival flanked by one of the most prominent interactive festivals in the world, and whether you are here for film or interactive, this is a perfect movie either way. It’s compelling and revealing, but also very relevant to the way many of us live our lives on the internet today. Screening times: Tuesday March 17th @ 4:30p (Austin Convention Ctr), Wednesday March 18th @ 11:30p (Paramount).
Ong Bak 2
The first Ong Bak hit the world like a heat-seeking guided missile. A missile in the shape of Tony Jaa, touted as the new Bruce Lee and the can’t-miss martial-arts superstar of his generation. This prequel, set in medieval Thailand, features Jaa as a young nobleman who masters many martial arts disciplines in his journey of revenge. And did we mention that it has Tony Jaa in it? Screening times: Friday March 13th @ 11:59p (Alamo Lamar 1), Sunday March 15th @ 11:59p (Alamo Lamar 2).
The Sundance 2009 Directing Award winning debut of Cary Joji Fukunaga, Sin Nombre tells the story of two youths traveling from Central America and Mexico toward the United States border. Standing in their way is a series of challenges, including severe instances of gang violence. We just saw this one this week and can confirm what the reviews from Sundance are correct: this movie is an intense and incredibly well-crafted drama that deserves to be seen. Screening times: Sunday March 15th @ 7:30p (Paramount).
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
At fourteen years old, best friends Steven “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band Anvil, hailed as the ‘demi-gods of Canadian metal,’ influenced a musical generation including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Though Anvil never made it, they never stopped playing or believing. And you won’t stop believing in the human spirit either after having seen this amazing doc, quite possibly one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Screening times: Sunday March 15th @ 10p (Alamo Lamar 3), Wednesday March 18th @ 9p (Alamo Ritz 1).
Lesbian Vampire Killers
Two hapless losers find their idyllic country holiday is shattered by the arrival of an army of thirsty lesbian vampires. It sounds like Shaun of the Dead, but with lesbians vampires instead of zombies. With the promise of gratuitous skin, violence and on screen consumption, Lesbian Vampire Killers was a movie born in the UK, but certainly one made to be shown late-nite at the Alamo Drafthouse. Luck for us, it is playing there next week. Screening times: Monday March 16th @ 11:59p (Alamo Lamar 1), Wednesday March 18th @ 11:30p (Alamo Lamar 2).
Meet Sam Bryant (Mark Duplass). He’s an aging Seattle rocker with no job, no record deal, and no place to stay until he finds some room at his aunt’s house in the suburbs. He’s also the last guy anyone would pick to take two teens camping for some quality dude time. Mark Duplass has made our list twice for a reason — the man is very funny and has a knack for picking great projects, mumblecore or not. Therefore we are excited to see this movie as well, and you should be too. Screening times: Saturday March 14th @4:30p (Alamo Ritz 1), Sunday March 15th @ 1:30p (Alamo Lamar 2), Saturday March 21st @ 5p (Alamo Ritz 1).
Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, a contract worker for a corporation with a mining base on the far side of the moon. And after three years of working in the cramped base, Sam is about to go home — but not before some strange, strange situations begin to emerge around him. Now he must question everything about his own existence in order to find a way back home. This is another Sundance holdover — and again, one of the best. Director Duncan Jones has created a fantastic slice of indie sci-fi for anyone who loves (a) a good story or (b) a creatively made film. Screening times: Saturday March 14th @ 7:30p (Paramount).
The Hurt Locker
Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb. Director Kathryn Bigelow brings her intense thriller to SXSW and should be met with much excitement, as the buzz around this one is red hot. Super intense, well-layered and raw action unlike anything you will see all year. Of this, we can promise you. Screening times: Tuesday March 17th @ 6:30p (Paramount).
Honorable Mention: Metropolis with Original, Live Score – The Golden Hornet Project is presenting a special film event, the playing of Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic silent masterpiece Metropolis with the live, original score. While not a regular SXSW film, this is one of those very special events that you really shouldn’t miss. Screening time: Wednesday March 18th @ 2:30p (Alamo Ritz 1)
For more of the best SXSW Film 2009 coverage on the web, keep it locked to our official SXSW ’09 homepage.