Jeremy Hand-Picks 13 Most Anticipated Films Showing at SXSW 2012
by Jeremy Kirk
March 9, 2012
It's that time of year again. Yes, that time of year, when moviegoers, music lovers, and all walks of hip life flock to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (SXSW) to see the newest films, hear the latest bands, and tech the latest tech. Or whatever you do with tech. Experience. That's it. But we're not worried about tech or games or being the earliest of adopters when it comes to entertainment gadgetry. Instead, we're looking at the films, those beautiful, little wonders in 70-120-minute packages. Every year people are looking for the next Duplass, but we're just looking for some great films, and we've got a list of 13 that we're excited about.
SXSW 2012 has thrills, chills, laughs, snark, probably a little bit of apathy—they can't all be winners, right?—and a healthy dose of cool. That's really what it's all about, isn't it? It's the cool festival. Sundance is the big one. Cannes is the prestigious one. Toronto is the oddball of the group. But SXSW is the cool one, and everything and everyone involved reflects that tone. It's an atmosphere built on enjoying everything it has to offer, a laid back environment where you can sit in your favorite theater—probably an Alamo Drafthouse if you know what's best for you—order a pitcher of your favorite brew, and potentially watch what could become one of your favorite movies. What better time could be had than that?
To try and cover all SXSW Film has in store would be futile. That's why, every year, "the lists" hit. Our 5 most anticipated. The 15 movies at SXSW you HAVE to see. 84 of the top films playing SXSW in reverse alphabetical order. That last one is a fabrication, but that doesn't mean it's a list that couldn't happen. But, instead of covering that many, we'll narrow it down a bit. This doesn't even mean we'll be able to get to all these listed. There comes that point in every person's festival experience when they realize they have to make a choice. Maybe something is playing against something else. Maybe there is a party that's interfering. The worst is when you find out about a film a day or two before the fest is over and the only remaining screening will leave you 10 minutes to get to the airport and you don't even know if you can get tickets for it.
But instead of going off about past tragedies, let's look to the future, at least for the next two weeks. Here, in no particular order, are the 13 films we're most looking forward to catching while at SXSW 2012:
God Bless America
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Bobcat Goldthwait has found his stride directing gutsy dramedies that pull no punches. At all. His films are often hard to watch, but that's what makes them so memorable. After World's Greatest Dad, everyone was wondering what he would take on next. God Bless America is that "next", a story of a man so fed up with the way the world is going, he takes action in the form of a nation-wide killing spree. And it's funny. Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr star in what could be ballsy cinema's answer to Jersey Shore.
Cabin in the Woods
Directed by Drew Goddard
Five friends go on vacation in the woods. Something isn't quite right. What's so great about the lead-in to Cabin in the Woods is how simple it seems and how complex the mystery behind what it's really about is sounding. Director Drew Goddard and writer Joss Whedon have been working hard to get this film released, and it's finally upon us. Nearly three years after originally filming this, audiences will finally have those questions answered. Just make sure you don't spoil anything. That would require blood from the spoilee. Just know there's a cabin, there are some woods, and shit's about to go down. That's all you need to know.
The Raid: Redemption
Directed by Gareth Evans
Have you heard enough about The Raid: Redemption? It was the talk of Toronto. It was the talk of Sundance. Now, it makes its violent way towards SXSW, and you couldn't ask for a better audience to experience it with. The sizzle reel showed us some extraordinary stunts and moments of extreme violence, but it's the buzz that's getting most of us in Austin excited to see this actioner from director Gareth Evans (Merantau). We'll forgive Sony for throwing that ridiculous and unnecessary subtitle on the end of The Raid to make it sound more franchise friendly. As long as they give us massive amounts of "HOLY SHIT" moments, we don't care what they call it.
Directed by William Friedkin
William Friedkin's first feature film in five years. A screenplay by Tracy Letts based on his play. Sounds a lot like Bug. In fact, Killer Joe looks like it could have the same, cult following as Bug, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Matthew McConaughey plays a cop/hitman who is hired by a young man, played by Emile Hirsch, to kill the young man's mother in order to claim the inheritance. I haven't checked into this, but I'm pretty sure things don't go at all as planned. The NC-17 rating the film got slapped with is evidence of that. It's being shown at SXW in all its "graphic aberrant content" glory, and we cannot wait.
The Tall Man
Directed by Pascal Laugier
French director Pascal Laugier broke onto the horror scene with 2008's Martyrs, perhaps one of the most unflinching horror films of the past decade. It was certainly the most unflinching film to come out of the French wave of horror in the mid-2000s. With The Tall Man, the director takes on the story of a mother searching for lost child. The child has been taken by a mythical figure known only as the Tall Man. Jessica Biel stars, but don't hold that against it. With Laugier at the helm, The Tall Man is sure to be a horror film we'll be keeping our eyes firmly on.
Yes, I know what you're saying. How could we possibly be looking forward to an updated version of an '80s TV show starring Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum, you know, the guy we all confuse with Sam Worthington. Well here's the real trick behind 21 Jump Street. It's actually getting great buzz as a hilarious film. More than a few people who have seen it say they physically hurt from the laughter it brings out, and that's never a bad thing. Throw in Ice Cube and Nick Offerman for good measure, and, why the hell not, have it be from the directing team behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and you've got a recipe for serious comedy.
Directed by Craig Zobel
Compliance is a film written and directed by Craig Zobel. Craig Zobel, for those of you who don't know, is the man behind "Homestar Runner." "Homestar Runner", in case you weren't sure, is about the furthest you can get from Compliance, a drama about prank call to a fast food employee gone horribly wrong. One of the more divisive films to come out of Sundance, Compliance is one of those films where you don't like any of the characters, but you just want them to stop doing awful things to each other. Like all, good, black comedies, they don't, and you can't stop watching. Good or bad, though, we'll always have "Homestar."
Directed by Nir Paniry
One of those indie, sci-fi films that casually slip off my radar, Extracted is a film that came to my attention only a few weeks ago. A procedure wherein someone can travel into another person's memories and uncover the truth behind their deepest, darkest secret is at the center. Sasha Roiz plays a man who is sent into the mind of a possible killer to figure out if he is, indeed, a murderer. He then gets trapped in this "killer's" mind. SXSW is the perfect place to find these smaller, sci-fi gems like Moon or Attack the Block. We'll see if Extracted fits in with those films, but it wouldn't shock us if it does.
Are you sick of found footage yet? Neither are we, and V/H/S is absolutely one of the most anticipated films to hit this festival. An anthology of found footage, horror stories, it's a film that's being touted as one of if not the scariest of the year. With some of the best up-and-coming horror makers in the land, people like Ti West and Adam Wingard, V/H/S looks to be one of three or four films hitting in 2012 that attempts to put fun back into the horror genre. And what's more fun than making sure you capture all the scariest parts on camera? Nothing. That's what.
Casa de mi Padre
Directed by Matt Piedmont
It's Will Ferrell speaking Spanish. That's it. That's the premise to Casa de mi Padre. If that's attitude you take going into this comedy, then you're in for a real treat. It would be a one-joke movie if that one joke was all this film does, but, thankfully, it plays to the Mexican soap opera story line much stronger than the "lost in translation" jokes. Gael Garcia Bernal looks amazing as the head of a Mexican drug cartel. Plus, come one, it is Will Ferrell acting dramatic and speaking Spanish, and that IS going to be quite funny.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
A documentary about Bob Marley. Fine. That's all well and good, but this one is directed by Kevin Macdonald, the man who brought us The Last King of Scotland and The Eagle. Okay, we won't hold The Eagle against him or this film, and we might not even have to. With interviews from some of Marley's closest confidantes, this doc about the famed reggae singer looks to be the latest in a series of music-centric, documentary film. If nothing else it's sure to have an A-list soundtrack.
John Dies at the End
Directed by Don Coscarelli
We saw the very first clip from John Dies at the End at last year's Fantastic Fest (details here), and that was only a taste of how absolutely tripped out this movie really is. Director Don Coscarelli's first feature film in 10 years, the film stars Paul Giamatti. Drugs made to look like soy sauce is involved. There's something with a tentacle. Who knows? The point is, the man who unleashed Phantasm on the world is back with another mind-trip of a horror story. Coscarelli didn't write the story for John Dies at the End. It was based on the novel by David Wong, but that isn't keeping it from being one of the most anticipated films of the festival. At the very least, it's sure to be one of the trippiest.
[REC] 3: Genesis
Directed by Paco Plaza
[REC] and [REC]2 made up one of the best 1-2 gut punches in recent horror. Co-director Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza created a chilling and atmospheric mythology behind an apartment building swarming with infected residents. Now, with Genesis, they're going back to the beginning. Plaza takes over directing duties by his lonesome in what could the start of a whole new mythology, one that's even more terrifying than the one seen before. Time will tell if [REC] 3 lives up to the standards of its predecessors, but rest assured it'll be scarier than Quarantine. Maybe even Quarantine 2: Terminal. Now, THAT was scary.
SXSW 2012 (official site) kicks off today, March 9th, and lasts until March 17th. We'll be bringing you the best coverage we possibly can this week with plenty of reviews and interviews. Little sleep will be had. Few, if any, healthy meals will be consumed. But it's all in the name of fantastic cinematic entertainment, fine works of film, and glorious oddities brought to amazing, 35mm life. All in Austin, Texas. Totally worth it.