If the red-band trailer for "Neighbors" is any indication, SXSW audiences are in for foul-mouthed, hilarious time when Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Dave Franco bring their little bit of mayhem to Austin. Directed by "The Muppets" scribe Nick Stoller, "Neighbors" is about a young couple (Rose Byrne and Rogen) who are forced to live next to a fraternity house, headed by Efron's bad-boy character, after the birth of their first child. Cue the mayhem. Not set to open wide till May 9th, the super early SXSW preview screening is a huge vote of confidence by Universal. The company made a similar move when it screened "Bridesmaids" as a work-in-progress back at SXSW in 2011 before its summer release. We all know how funny that film was.
Spanish director Nacho Vigalando has proven himself adroit at toying with genre tropes and audience expectations with his features "Timecrimes" and "Extraterrestrial," neither of which are exactly what they seem. With this Elijah Wood vehicle, Vigalando continues to experiment with film form even as he pays homage to Brian De Palma with this incessantly split screen narrative, also a cheeky homage to Austin's vibrant film culture. Wood plays a young man who wins a contest to meet the actress he adores, only to wind up trapped by an unseen man who guides his every move and forces him to stalk the woman. The entire story plays out on a single computer screen through a series of -- you guessed it -- open windows. Anyone excited about innovative filmmaking approaches won't want to miss this one.
"Print the Legend"
A documentary that tracks the rise of the 3D printer might sound like a snooze to some, but for any tech geek, this is the film to see at the fest. The film centers on the inside world of Brooklyn-based MakerBot Industries and the company's CEO Bre Pettis. Competing companies are also profiled in the documentary. Billed by SXSW as the "definite 3D printing documentary," "Print the Legend" marks the first time cameras have documented the lives of the people behind the "next industrial revolition" (again, per SXSW). Watch the trailer below:
Even the big issue documentaries at SXSW have a deeply personal element to them. "Vessel," which revolves around a doctor who travels around the world in a boat providing abortions at sea, looks like the one that will fit that description. Diana Whitten's portrait of Dr. Rebecca Gomperts promises a riveting experience as its subject helps women who have no other option but to go beyond the legal restrictions surrounding them. Emboldened by technology, Dr. Whitten's quest is also one that gels nicely with the forward-leaning, gadget-savvy crowd at SXSW.
A modern-day film noir, "Wild Canaries" centers on two roommates (Alia Shawkat, best known for "Arrested Development" and indie darling Sophia Takal) who set out to investigate the mysterious death of their elderly downstairs neighbor, Sylvia. When the two discover evidence that links her murder to their own apartment, everyone becomes a suspect. Directed by actor-filmmaker Lawrence Michael Levine ("Gabi on the Roof in July"), "Wild Canaries" (at least on paper) sounds a lot like "Cold Weather," another indie noir that made a huge splash at SXSW in 2010. Here's hoping "Wild Canaries" follows in that film's footsteps.