SXSW 2011

When Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a new house with their three children, they see it as an opportunity for the life they always wanted. Renai can get back to writing music and be a full-time mom for her family, and the kids have all the space they could ever want. Unfortunately some of that space appears to be occupied by malevolent ghosts. What do they want? How can this family rid themselves of their worst nightmare? Why does that ghost look like Darth Maul? On the one hand, writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan have given us a solid film with some remarkably unsettling imagery sure to haunt the nightmares of even the most jaded horrorphiles. On the flip side, they have given us one of the loudest, most obnoxiously lazy horror films in years. This paradox eats at me as I desperately wanted to like Insidious and frankly the potential it displays alludes to a film that could have easily made my list of favorites of the year. Sadly, that potential is squandered in cheap thrills and hackneyed conventions.

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South By Southwest has already begun heating up, but there are still plenty of movies and buckets of Schlitz to go. If you’re in Austin right now, you’re probably puzzling day to day over what you’re going to see. If you’re not in Austin, you’re probably still wondering what might escape the confines of the festival to see theaters near you. Although there’s no guarantee (except for a few big names we already know will see theaters), here are the hot tickets that might just earn themselves distribution deals. Our intrepid SXSW patrol (comprised of Adam Charles, Jack Giroux, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and Brian Salisbury) have put together a list of what they’re most looking forward to for your reading and viewing pleasure. Keep in mind, there are over 250 movies playing this year, so this represents only a small amount of the quality programming. These are the movies that stand out even amongst the best of the best at the fest. Check it out for yourself:

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Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block is one of the more anticipated films at this year’s SXSW, and that was even before today’s trailer premiere. The story follows a bunch of British hoodie thugs whose evening of robbery and rabble-rousing is interrupted by an alien invasion. Knowing the police won’t set foot in the area the teens step up to defend their neighborhood the only way they know how. And yes, it does involve Nick Frost. Cornish has some writing/directing experience for TV in the UK, but this year sees him branching out into theatrical releases as well. In addition to his feature debut here he also co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of the Unicorn and may be working with Edgar Wright on the long gestating Ant-Man. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think in the comments.

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This year’s SXSW film festival is already guaranteed to be a can’t-miss event thanks to the like of Duncan Jones’ Source Code, Denis Villenueve’s Incendies, Jodie Foster’s The Beaver, Ti West’s The Innkeepers, and many, many more. But genre fans know that sometimes the most anticipated screenings are the ones the fall under the Midnighters and SXFantastic banners. The announcement has arrived with this year’s titles, and as expected… it’s chock full of some wonderful surprises. The joy of film fests is found just as much in the movies you’ve never heard of before as it is in the ones you’re anticipating. We expect plenty of brilliantly entertaining films to surprise us, but some of the movies we’re already excited for include… Ben Wheatley follows up his blackly comic film Down Terrace with Kill List, which per Twitch features a story that “starts as a two man buddy-action comedy before twisting itself into a riff on Race With the Devil.” Joe Cornish’s British teens versus alien invaders flick Attack the Block promises some fun action. James Wan returns to the world of horror with his latest film Insidious. There are also two intriguing looking Argentinian thrillers, Phase 7 and Cold Sweat, that both show promise as well. This is going to another full and extremely satisfying year… check out the list of new additions below and head over to sxsw.com for the latest news and complete list of every feature and short playing this year.

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If you want to be one of the first people on the planet to see Mel Gibson with a puppet on his hand and a psychological block on his brain, you’ll want to head down to SXSW this year. In fact, you might want to be there anyway because 1) there are always some stellar movies 2) there’s a great gyro place right down the street and 3) we’ll be there. The Beaver will get its world premiere there, as will Paul. Two highly anticipated movies that will have their first real audiences before seeing wide release later in the Spring. The rest of the list (of films so far announced) includes a ghostly thriller from Ti West, Conan O’Brien’s ability to go all night long, and proof that John Melloncamp still exists. All of these films will join the ranks of the opening night movie – Source Code.

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Last year, David Bowie’s son directed a film about Sam Rockwell being stranded all alone on the other side of the moon while his equipment and his mind fell apart. It was brilliant. That’s why it’s so exciting to see that his new film Source Code will be premiering as the opening night gala feature for the SXSW Film Festival in March 2011. The film focuses on a government program that allows agents to enter into the bodies of other people in the last moments of their lives. The program is used to make Jake Gyllenhaal relive a horrific train bombing over and over again until he can stop it from happening. The official synopsis from the SXSW press release is as follows:

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