SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
Another great documentary, but this is actually the best one I've seen since being at SXSW. The film has gotten a lot of buzz since playing at Sundance and now here at SXSW. Alex, along with the guys from SlashFilm and Film School Rejects had already seen it but decided that they loved it so much that they were going to see it again with me. A great film mixed in with my first time at the famous Alamo Drafthouse made this a very memorable experience.
Another day and another great documentary. I was truly excited to see this one after I first read about it when SXSW revealed their line-up. These are the docs I'm interested to see, the ones that deal with topics that I don't know much about but seem really intriguing. They're able to shed light on a topic like bullfighting, which most people don't know a lot about, and teach us about it in an exciting way.
As I currently write this, I'm relaxing in the Austin airport waiting to catch a flight to Las Vegas for my mid-fest intermission. Right smack in the middle of SXSW I'm traveling to Vegas for ShoWest, the annual theater owners' convention. While I'm excited for it, it is a bit sad that I'm leaving all of my friends back in Austin until I return. Since this is the first time I've been writing an update from SXSW, I've got to address the rumors - they're true. SXSW is as entertaining and fun as everyone has always said! This is one hell of a good film fest, but unfortunately this year's line-up isn't the greatest.
As much as I'd love to go into an in-depth discussion on the intricacies of the comedy within Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it's entirely unnecessary. It's a very funny film that follows the Judd Apatow formula to the core (including with a running time of nearly two hours) and delivers. While not the absolute funniest of Apatow's recent features, Sarah Marshall is still one of the better comedies to arrive this half of the year and that shows both the struggles of break ups and the brighter side on the other end. If you're unsure of whether Jason Segel could pull it off, I'll be the first to tell you that he can, and does.
It seems like every year we get only one good new zombie movie. It's a genre that lives on (pun intended) and is still enjoyed each and every year, but the good ones are harder and harder to find. However, within only three months we've already stumbled across this year's great new zombie flick - Dance of the Dead. The film is a fun mix of Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, any of Michael Bay's scripts, and any high school prom movie you've ever seen. It's fun, it's exciting, and it's really damn good.
I have seen 3 documentaries and 3 1/2 fictional narratives during my time here at SXSW. The Promotion is my favorite film of the festival so far. It was exactly what I needed to see to set the bar for the rest of the films I'm going to watch. A great mix of drama and comedy that led to a final feel good moment at the end. While it's not the greatest movie I've seen, it was still very good and it lifted my spirits, especially after the previous two fictional narratives I watched turned out to be duds.
This is definitely going to turn out to be a great festival for documentaries. I've already seen American Teen, We Are Wizards and now Some Assembly Required. I still have a lot more documentaries to see like Reformat the Planet, Second Skin, Throw Down Your Heart, Bananaz, Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry and Crawford. I never knew I was a doc guy but after watching last year's nominated documentaries plus King of Kong, I've been hooked.
My first film of SXSW and I wasn't disappointed. We Are Wizards deals with how the Harry Potter series of movies and books have affected its fans. What has sprung up since the series started is a bunch of fan web sites dealing with all news from the Harry Potter world and a new genre of music called "Wizard Rock". The first half of the documentary deals with this new genre from the viewpoint of a few bands like "Harry and the Potters" and "The Hungarian Horntails".
When it comes to documentaries, it takes a lot to impress me. Thankfully Second Skin surpassed all of my expectations and earned a spot on my list of favorite docs, which is incredibly rare. The film is about the "second life" of MMORPG players like in World of Warcraft. Where it succeeds is in its informative style, solid structure, and well-chosen stories. There are millions of gamers out there, but the filmmakers behind Second Skin happened to come across the best few stories that they could ever tell.
In this day and age, comedies seem to have a form that they all follow. The jokes are getting more and more bland and the stories worse and worse. To be honest, I wasn't expecting anything but the same old crap with Harold & Kumar 2: Escape from Guantanamo Bay. And to be honest, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's a dumb stoner comedy to the core that never deviates from that ideal, and yet I still laughed all the way through. It may not top the first Harold & Kumar, but it is a perfect compliment to it that I think everyone who loved that one will enjoy.
Just letting you know that Ken Evans and I are heading out to the SXSW Film Festival today in Austin, TX and will be there for 10 days - until next Sunday, March 16th. In addition, I'll be skipping out to Las Vegas for ShoWest next week from Tuesday to Thursday before heading back to Austin to finish out that fest. Although you might not hear about all the parties we're going to, you will hear about all the movies we're seeing, interviews we're coordinating, and everything else fun that's going on in Austin and Vegas. If you're a fan of the site and happen to be in Austin, drop us a line / e-mail, maybe we'll catch some drinks and BBQ one night! We've also posted a few of the things you can look forward to hearing about below.
The SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX begins later this week and we're looking at a few of the films that will be premiering there. Today is our final first look preview from SXSW for the feature film Explicit Ills, written and directed by Mark Webber. Unfortunately we don't have a trailer for this, only a few photos, but it's one I definitely wanted to feature because it's high on my list of films to check out - it just sounds like it could be great. It stars Rosario Dawson, Paul Dano, Lou Taylor Pucci, Naomie Harris, and Tariq Trotter. In Explicit Ills, young love, drugs and poverty collide in the city of Philadelphia creating a beautiful tale of hope and the power of coming together.