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
Harmony Korine, the well-known screenwriter for Kids and writer-director of Gummo and julien donkey-boy, returns to suburban filth from his experiment in optimism that was Mister Lonely with Trash Humpers, a plotless Hi8 video about old people doing despicable things. It is at once a return to the themes and tones of Gummo at the other end of the age spectrum as well as a twisted, subversive take on the recently popularized found footage filmmaking subgenre, as the film disguises itself to be a lo-fi artifact found in the most illicit gutters of American culture. It’s an interesting – if, in its own way, oddly ambitious – experiment in filmmaking, and one I am anxious to see play out, whether or not i regret taking the plunge afterward. — Landon Palmer
We only know a few things about Monsters. The one production still for the film generates a lot of curiosity and imagination. Also, the film has been beautifully marketed in a viral fashion as to create a horde of monster-happy film goers who want to know what lies in the infected zone. There is only one way to find out, and I expect this one to be pretty awesome. – Brian C. Gibson
In his follow-up to Women in Trouble, director Sebastian Gutierrez continues the story of porn star Elektra Luxx. Given the awesomeness of Women in Trouble, Elektra Luxx was sure to make our list right away. The film features one of the most gorgeous casts of women, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Expect some laughs and make sure to add this one to your schedule. – Brian C. Gibson
Serbian Film (Srpski Film)
All you have to do is watch the trailer for this film, and you will know that two things are certain. One, is that your own curiosity will drive you to wanting to see it. Two, is that viewing this film will affect you in a very strong way. Check out the trailer and find out if your sensibilities can carry you through what is sure to be a messed up ride. — Brian C. Gibson
I am an absolute glutton for the grindhouse films of the 1970’s. Anyone that follows our decadent Junkfood Cinema column will know that I have an unfettered passion for the films of that gritty, low-budget era. Revenge films, blaxploitation, questionable horror films, and psychadelic abominations are all right up my 42nd Street alley. — Brian Salisbury
Sci-Fi is probably the genre at which I am least adept. I have my favorites like anyone else, and I think they carry greater social implications than any other genre. But more and more I’ve been discovering that many of my top choices are foreign Sci-Fi. So I am of course excited by the opportunity to see this Swiss spaceship movie. I actually found the trailer online long ago and far away and, despite it being in German with no subtitles, it easily peaked my interest. — Brian Salisbury
My introduction to the Duplass brothers was one of my earliest film events after moving to Austin. I got a pass to see a promo screening of Baghead at Star Hill Ranch. This is a replica town built to look as if it were built in the early 19th century. We got to watch a horror film, that takes place in the woods, in this beautiful outdoor venue on a gorgeous summer night. I really liked the movie itself, but that experience is something that will always be associated with the Duplass brothers. I will therefore always be willing to check out their films. — Brian Salisbury
One more documentary, for the road. It’s fitting that the “one for the road” would be about Lemmy, the mustachioed frontman of the epic metal group Motorhead. Ever since this was announced as one of the film’s spotlight premieres, we’ve been salivating at the chance to rock out at SXSW. Yes, even the film nerds rock out every once in a while. It’s sure to be an energetic, interesting movie, at the very least. — Neil Miller