With badge sales up 25% since last year, the 2010 SXSW Film Conference & Festival has, according to Austin American-Statesman writer Chris Garcia, “evolved with a rapidly changing film culture. It has branched from its roots as a refuge for low- and micro-budget movies that weren’t ready for more established events, such as the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to become a destination for rising independent filmmakers to rub shoulders with Hollywood players.” After a bit of snow fell in the Texas capital a few weeks back, it looks like the weather is clearing up for what looks to be a healthy lineup.
Starting early on the fest’s opening day is the epic Swedish thriller, Neils Arden Oplev’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” set to open in a limited U.S. release next week. The film, which is the highest-grossing Scandinavian release in history and is based on the best-selling novel by Stieg Larsson, follows two investigators — a journalist and a hacker — as they piece-by-piece come together to work on the same case. Also screening on the fest’s first day is the IFC release, “No One Knows About Persian Cats.” In the film, two men recently released from prison seek to start a band in Tehran and try to escape the oppressive rules of the Iranian authorities, who forbid them to play. Fest badge owners will have the opportunity to catch a sneak preview of the Robert Rodriguez-produced “Predators.” The film, directed by Nimrod Antal, is the latest film in the “Predator” franchise. Also joining in the genre revelry will be midnight films Slamdance alum “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and “Outcast.”
With Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass,” “[r]arely has an opening night movie sounded more like a mission statement,” says The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks. “Kick-Ass,” adapted from Mark Millar
and John Romita, Jr.’s comic series, follows a team of everyday people as they take on the role of superheroes, cobbling together makeshift superpowers. It seems like one thing any SXSW viewers will have to avoid this week is the inevitable glut of comic and superhero geeks who will be more than prepared to gush over the genre flick opener “Kick-Ass.”
Already this contingent is taking to the blogosphere to revel in the film’s “kickassness.” Rob Saucedo‘s blog review starts with, “At the risk of treading the same ground as every other hack movie critic come this time in April, ‘Kick-Ass’ is just plain kick ass.” He continues, “Kick-Ass is like a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Richard Donner — a big, sweeping epic film that’s not afraid to get down and dirty with blood, guts and dismemberment.” CHUD‘s Devin Faraci starts with a caveat, “I’m going to throw around a lot of words here, but they’re all going to simply boil down to ‘Holy fucking shit.'” He continues by putting some useful words to his thoughts, “I’ve been thinking about what makes ‘Kick-Ass’ the single best Western action film I’ve seen in maybe a decade and it all comes down to director Matthew Vaughn’s impeccable sense of pacing.” And, riding a tide of critical support following “Bad Lieutenant,” it seems Nic Cage may have another good year on his hands, with blogger Lord Shaper saying, “Nicolas Cage blew me away with his performance. I think this is his best performance that I’ve seen from him. From the twisted caring father who is teaching his daughter to take a gunshot to when he puts on the costume, adds the handlebar mustache and puts on the William Shatner/Adam West Batman voice so people don’t know it’s him.”
The guys at Austin-based Film School Rejects have also listed their 15 Movies You Must See at SXSW.
More from indieWIRE all week long from Austin. Take a look at the interviews from competition and Emerging Visions filmmakers here, and, if you’re in town, here’s our guide to the city and enjoying the fest.
Alright, SXSW, let’s kick-ass.