Tomorrow I hop in my car and head down I-35 to Austin, the best city Texas has to offer, for the best film festival of the South. It’s SXSW time again and we’ll be battling torrential rainstorms and clogged traffic all the way there. It’s worth it. South By Southwest is a film festival unlike any other. Free of the publicists and rich douche bags which so often infest other major festivals, it’s a great place to simply hang out, drink up, and watch movies.
Before we kick off our coverage, I’m going to ease you into the greatness of Austin’s festival scene slowly with a look at just some of the films most worth paying attention to at this year’s South By. Then some time late Friday night or, if we have a particularly boozy good time, mid-Saturday morning, Cinema Blend’s SXSW coverage will go full force until Leanne and I are rendered inert by a rogue Troll 2 screening or they kick us out of our hotel on account of the smell. You can only fit so many clean socks in a suit case.
Below in no particular order is a quick look at the movies we’re dying to see this year. Browse and click on the images for a look at each film’s trailer. Then keep checking back throughout the weekend and next week for our ongoing SXSW Film Festival coverage. Or just bookmark our dedicated festival channel right here.
500 Days of Summer
I saw this at Sundance in January, and I can’t wait to see it again. It’s the best thing I’ve seen so far in 2009, and it’s going to be the best thing I see twice in 2009 too. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: When an unlucky greeting card copywriter is dumped by his girlfriend, the hopeless romantic shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days 'together' in hopes of figuring out where things went wrong. Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Bruno – Sneak Peek!
Universal Pictures is unveiling 20 minutes from Sacha Baron Cohen’s new make fun of conservatives movie Bruno. One problem… anybody can get in, festival badge or not, which means if you want to get in you’d better be ready to spend the whole day of line. How much do you love gay Austrian fashion?
Drag Me To Hell (Work In Progress)
This is Sam Raimi’s return to horror. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know what’s up. Even in an unfinished form this should be enough to scare your pants off. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: An original tale of a young woman’s desperate quest to break an evil curse. (Work In Progress)
The Dungeon Masters
Geeks battle economic depression with fantasy role-playing! The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Against the backdrop of crumbling middle-class America, two men and one woman devote their lives to Dungeons and Dragons, the storied role-playing game, and its various descendants. As their baroque fantasies clash with mundane real lives, the characters find it increasingly difficult to allay their fear, loneliness, and disappointment with the game’s imaginary triumphs. (U.S. Premiere)
I’m seeing this one based on cast alone. Scratch that, based on cast hotness alone. Sorry I’m a man. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: A dark comedy about a group of women who meet in court mandated rage therapy and decide to form a traditional business with very untraditional methods. Cast: Heather Graham, Jennifer Coolidge, Amber Heard, Joey Lauren Adams, Matthew Settle (World Premiere)
It earned fantastic buzz at Sundance, let’s find out what all the buzz is about. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: A farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far. Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard.
I Love You, Man
It opens a week from now so perhaps the wiser course would be to spend my festival time elsewhere… but there’s just nothing like seeing a raunchy Jason Segel/Paul Rudd comedy with a bunch of movie-lovin stoners packed into Austin’s Paramount theater. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: The film centers on a man who, upon getting engaged, realizes he has no close male friends and must find someone to be the Best Man at his wedding. Cast: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly (World Premiere, Opening Night Film)
Lesbian Vampire Killers (UK)
It’s all in the title. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Matthew Horne and James Corden, the comedy duo behind the award-winning BBC comedy series Gavin and Stacey, are two hapless losers whose idyllic country holiday is shattered by the arrival of an army of thirsty lesbian vampires. Cast: Paul McGann, James Corden, Mathew Horne, MyAnna Buring, Silvia Colloca (World Premiere)
Make-Out with Violence
What’s the point in going to a film festival unless you see something weird, preferably with necrophilia? Ok, maybe I don’t actually need necrophilia but if it’s there why not embrace it. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: A rock musical wherein the living love the dead and break into silence instead of song. Cast: Eric Lehning, Cody DeVos, Leah High, Brett Miller, Shellie Marie Shartzer
Another one I’ve already seen and enjoyed at Sundance. It’s not good enough for a second viewing but I’m throwing it on there as a reminder to those of you who haven’t seen it yet. Give this trippy space flick a shot. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Before returning to Earth after three years on the moon, things go horribly wrong for astronaut Sam Bell. Cast: Sam Rockwell
Observe and Report
It’s the year’s second mall cop movie, but the similarities between this and Paul Blart end there. Seth Rogen seems to have dropped his lovable stoner persona for something darker and more disturbed. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: This dark comedy follows the story of Ronnie Barnhardt, a deluded, self-important head of mall security who squares off in a turf war against the local cops. Cast: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Peña and Ray Liotta (World Premiere, Centerpiece Slot)
Office Space – 10th Anniversary – LIVE PRESENTATION
It may be the funniest movie ever made. Yeah I said it. This is our chance to watch it as Mike Judge intended… sitting next to him! The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Director Mike Judge will present a special screening of the cult phenomenon film on the occasion of its 10th Anniversary.
Ong Bak 2 (Thailand)
The first Ong Bak was a martial arts mind-blower. Who cares what it’s about, I just want to see him punch someone in the head. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Martial-arts superstar Tony Jaa is back in an epic prequel to the 2003 action smash Ong Bak. Cast: Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Nirut Sirichanya, Santisuk Promsiri, Primorata Dejudom (International Film Festival Premiere)
The Slammin’ Salmon
This is the latest effort from Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe behind Super Troopers. They were kind enough to do a great video interview with us at Sundance, now is our chance to actually see what they’ve been up to. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: The story of a restaurant owner and former heavyweight champion who, over one night in his restaurant, institutes a high stakes, Glengarry Glen Ross like competition amongst the wait staff that leads to hilarious results. Cast: Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Jay Chandrasekhar, Michael Clarke Duncan, Cobie Smulders & April Bowlby
It’s the trailer that sold me on this one. Imagine the most despicable human being you can imagine in an over-the-top comedy. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: The funniest movie about dating a bulimic... possibly ever. Cast: Adam Goldstein, Nina Braddock (World Premiere)
Trailers from Hell.com with Joe Dante – LIVE PRESENTATION
If you’re any kind of a trailer buff (me!), then this is a must see. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Joe Dante presents The Best of Trailers from Hell which showcases classic-era Previews of Coming Attractions - punctuated with humorous, passionate and insightful commentaries by contemporary filmmakers like John Landis, Eli Roth and Edgar Wright - with particular emphasis on the lurid, the extreme and the outrageous.
Best Worst Movie
While there’s never any shortage of bad movies at a film festival, it’s rare you see a film which celebrates them. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: When an Italian filmmaker, an Alabama dentist and fledgling Utah actors filmed the low-budget horror movie, Troll 2, they'd no idea that twenty years later they would be celebrated for making the worst movie ever made. (World Premiere)
If you’re going to see a documentary about the worst movie ever made, then you need to see the worst movie ever made too. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: Widely regarded as The Worst Movie Ever Made, TROLL 2 is unquestionably one of the most unintentionally brilliant accomplishments in cinema. Filmed by an Italian exploitation legend using an unwitting Utah cast, this is the hypnotically inept story of a boy joining his grandfather's ghost to battle a witch's army of vegetarian goblins. Crucial and irresistible.
Women in Trouble
You’ve probably heard that Watchmen star Carla Gugino is supposed to be in a new movie playing a porn star. Well here it is. It’s actually the first of a series of movies featuring her character. The official plot synopsis goes a little something like this: One day in the lives of ten desperate women with one thing in common: trouble. Cast: Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Simon Baker (World Premiere)