Indiewire is on the scene at this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival bring you the lastest news, reviews and interviews. A lot went down this past weekend, so to make it easy for you, we’ve compiled it all here in this handy dandy weekend round-up.
SXSW ’12 | Joss Whedon: ‘I want to make things that are small, pure and odd.’
Joss Whedon looks tired, really tired, when I meet him at the Four Seasons in Austin for a quick one-on-one. Can you blame him?
SXSW REVIEW: ‘King Kelly’ Is an Intense Found-Footage Indictment of Generation Me
The found-footage approach to cinematic narrative is no longer epitomized by “The Blair Witch Project.” Amateur-quality camerawork has become a part of the vernacular, with the first-person perspective providing an intimate window into human behavior, particularly among the youth culture most capable of using the device to record itself. Shot exclusively on iPhones, “King Kelly” turns that tendency into an American horror show, delivering a ferocious indictment of Generation Me by boiling it down to a single ditzy teen.
SXSW REVIEW: Adorable ‘Gimme the Loot’ Makes Graffiti Artists Look like ‘The Little Rascals’
At the world premiere of “Gimme the Loot” at the SXSW Film Festival, writer-director Adam Leon said he’d been working on reshoots only a few months ago. That encapsulates the quality driving this delightfully scrappy first feature about young New York graffiti artists, a stitched-together combo of outlaw energy and bittersweet romance that gives the impression of Little Rascals in the big city. Like the graffiti art it documents, it’s a lovingly handmade affair.
SXSW REVIEW: ‘Sinister’ Is a Familiar Haunted House Movie, But That’s What Makes It Work
A dark and stormy horror movie of the Stephen King variety, “Sinister” steps carefully through familiar territory. Anchored by a moody Ethan Hawke performance and classically unsettling scare tactics, this icy supernatural thriller from director Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and co-written by Ain’t It Cool News contributor C. Robert Cargill (aka “Massawyrm”) delivers on the promise of its title by boiling down its appeal to pure atmosphere.
SXSW REVIEW: Caveh Zahedi Puts Lives in Danger and Faces a Fatwa for ‘The Sheik & I.’ Immoral or Essential? Try Both.
Caveh Zahedi built a reputation as a naughty provocateur with surreal docu-comedies like “A Little Stiff” and “I Am a Sex Addict,” but his latest effort rises above self-interest and takes a stab at instigating change.
SXSW REVIEW: Matthew Lillard’s Directorial Debut, ‘Fat Kid Rules the World,’ Owes Much to Jacob Wysocki
Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut, “Fat Kid Rules the World,” is a standard coming-of-age movie; it never does anything surprising or adventurous. But if you accept it on those terms, it’s an entirely serviceable ode to punk rock as the ultimate panacea for teen angst.
Joss Whedon Unveils His “Timeless Classic,” ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ at SXSW
“We want you to have a good time,” said SXSW Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson, kicking off the event last night with the world premiere of the Joss Whedon-penned post-modern horror blast “The Cabin in the Woods.” Judging by the screams, near-constant laughs and whooping applause of the crowd, Pierson got her wish.
You’re Invited: Matthew Lillard, ‘V/H/S’ Directors & More Talking to IW at SXSW
Insiders at the SXSW Film Festival can connect daily with filmmakers and stars in Austin at our afternoon talk series beginning this Monday. Over four days from 2PM to 3PM, SXSW pass holders attending the festival (filmmakers, industry and press, or whoever has something around their neck looking official) can settle down to watch the talks and ask questions to the talent.
SXSW REVIEW: Joss Whedon-Scripted ‘Cabin in the Woods’ Turns B-Movie Meta Into Scary Pop Art
The deceptively simple tagline for “The Cabin in the Woods” points to a movie with a lot to hide: “Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.”
Slamdance Winner ‘Bindlestiffs’ Goes to Phase 4 & Kevin Smith’s SModcast Pictures
The high-school comedy “Bindlestiffs” from writer-director Andrew Edison has gone to Phase 4 Films for North American distribution. The film debuted at Slamdance (where it won the Audience Award for Best Feature Narrative) and is currently at SXSW.
The Top 10 Grossing Films That Premiered at SXSW 2011
As the 2012 edition of SXSW gets underway in Austin, Texas, it seemed appropriate to look back at the films of last year’s edition and how well they did at the theatrical box office.
SXSW Review Capsule: ‘Nature Calls’
Patton Oswalt has built up a decent amount of goodwill for himself, whether it’s because of the the award-season campaign for his performance in last year’s “Young Adult” or his other recent acting turns. His latest effort is “Nature Calls,” in which he plays Randy, a scoutmaster with newly acquired leadership responsibilities trying to bring in unwilling recruits. Written and directed by Todd Rohal and starring a bevy of other comedic talent, “Nature Calls” is a premiere that’s drawing reviews disproportionate to its pedigree.
SXSW Review Capsule: ‘Fat Kid Rules the World’
Jacob Wysocki registered on the indie film radar with his central performance in the Spirit-nominated “Terri,” starring alongside John C. Reilly. SXSW 2012 brings “Fat Kid Who Rules the World,” one of the first chances for many people to see him outside of that role. Directed by Matthew Lillard (his debut as a filmmaker – audiences may remember him as the “other man” from “The Descendants”), “Fat Kid” is an adaptation of a novel written by young adult author K.L. Going.
SXSW Review Capsule: ‘God Bless America’
It’s been three years since Bobcat Goldthwait’s last narrative writing/directing effort, “World’s Greatest Dad” played at Sundance, sparking a bevy of that’s-not-what-I-was-expecting reaction. Goldthwait’s back with another addition to his Ironic Coffee Mug Title Series, the violence-happy “God Bless America.” The story follows Frank who, when confronted with a life-threatening illness, decides to eliminate society’s undesirables (with a 16-year-old girl as his sidekick, no less).
The Top 10 Critics To Follow During SXSW (For Now)
Over the next week and a half, dozens of critics will report on the quality of films at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, which starts tonight. It’s no easy task to work on constant deadline in Austin’s adrenaline-fueled bubble of southern-fried fun (especially since a lot of the theaters encourage you to drink). But a similarly daunting task faces anyone interested in following the coverage from elsewhere. And so we’ve assembled this guide to a few of the reliable critical voices at this year’s festival as a starting point.
Thompson on Hollywood
Exclusive SXSW Clip: Black Comedy ‘Black Pond’ Marks Smart Debut of Two Brit Talents
Sunday at SXSW sees the North American debut of “Black Pond,” a very strange and very British dark comedy from two emerging filmmakers.
SXSW Day Two: ‘The Imposter,’ Seimetz Talks ‘Sun Don’t Shine,’ ‘Hunky Dory’ (Video)
I started another rainy day at SXSW with Sundance holdover “The Imposter,” which luckily I had not read too much about. The less you know going in the better on this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction doc, which leads you through the filmmakers’ own discovery process, which they call a “slightly bewildering journey.” This is the best con-man story since “Catch Me If You Can.”
Texas Hall of Fame and SXSW Opening Day, from ‘Rio Bravo’ to ‘Cabin in the Woods’
I flew into Austin Thursday on Southwest and sat in the first row right next to Angie Dickinson, who was accepting a Texas Hall of Fame award that night for the cast and crew of Howard Hawks’ 1959 western “Rio Bravo.” It was Dickinson’s fourth movie, and she told Hawks that she had wanted to work with him as a great actors’ director, along with George Cukor. He told her, “we’re good because we do your thinking for you.”
SXSW Exclusive: ‘Prince of Broadway’ Director Sean Baker Talks ‘Starlet,’ Keeps it Vérité with Dree Hemingway
Sean Baker’s second feature, “Prince of Broadway,” a micro-budget vérité film shot in New York City’s wholesale fashion district, won a slew of festival awards after its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2008 (winning Best Narrative Feature) and landed on many Best of 2010 lists (including The Envelope). We interviewed Baker along with “Prince of Brodway” presenter Lee Daniels in 2010. Now, the director’s third feature, “Starlet,” debuts at SXSW.
SXSW ’12 Review: ‘See Girl Run’ Has A Slightly Too Leisurely Stride
There’s a fine line between delicacy and fragility, between a gentle unfolding and a stubbornly slow series of revelations. That line is what keeps Nate Meyer’s “See Girl Run,” a midlife romantic drama, from succeeding as well as the great cinematography and talented cast would have you hope.
SXSW ’12 Review: ‘Small Apartments’ Is An Awkward, Entirely Unsatisfying Mixture Of Sweetness And Filth
“Small Apartments” comes off wishy-washy, both too grotesque and too cute to make much of an impression and certainly not the work of a guy whose videos had to be accompanied by a warning from Kurt Loder about the explicitness of their content.
SXSW ’12 Review: At Its Best, Harmless ‘Hunky Dory’ Is Just That
“Hunky Dory” primarily concerns itself with familiar extracurricular woes and offers up much ado about nothing instead of a more rollicking or romantic coming-of-age story.
SXSW ’12 Review: Celebrity, Notoriety & Living In Public As ‘Frankie Go Boom’
Capturing an L.A. of thwarted and foolish ambition, as well as a family dynamic between two brothers who may be more alike than they would like, writer-director Jordan Roberts’ “Frankie Go Boom” is at heart another rumination on the Tolstoyan observation that all unhappy families are unique.
SXSW ’12 Review: ‘Sinister’ Starring Ethan Hawke Is A Satisfying Old-School Horror, But Lacks Resonance
As a horror movie that’s incredibly effective and yet evaporates pretty quickly once it’s over, Scott Derrickson’s “Sinister” defines the difference between “scary” and “haunting.”
SXSW ’12 Review: Director Jay Chandrasekhar’s Tentative Sincerity Steps Undermined In Uneven, Sophomoric ‘Babymakers’
If you thought that “Knocked Up” was too mature a take on impending fatherhood, then “Babymakers” just might be the movie for you.
SXSW ’12 Review: Todd Rohal’s Third Feature ‘Nature Calls’ Is A Dull, Droning Wrong Number
Curiously squandering an immensely talented cast, Todd Rohal’s “Nature Calls,” written when the writer-director lived in Austin, had more humor and humanity and life in its 10-minute post-screening talk here at SXSW than it showed in its previous 98-minute running time.
SXSW ’12: Joss Whedon Talks Challenges of The ‘Avengers,’ Potentially Resurrecting Old Horror Epic ‘Goners,’ And How ‘Cabin In The Woods’ Came To Be
Today at South by Southwest, there was a panel with “Cabin in the Woods” director Joss Whedon (the screening the night before brought the house down – Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford were still talking about it today!), wherein the fan favorite writer/director talked about his intentions for the film, why he fled the Hollywood system (or at the very least distanced himself to the point that he’s working parallel to it), the state of his big-budget horror movie “Goners,” the pluses and minuses of working with an inflated budget, and his personal little art film, “The Avengers.”
SXSW ’12 Review: ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ Is A Smart, Witty Blast For Genre Fans
In the hands of co-writer/producer Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” (and director of this summer’s “The Avengers”), and debut director Drew Goddard, who penned “Cloverfield,” “The Cabin In The Woods” is something very different: a neat subversion and celebration of its genre that delivers a fistful of scares, along with things less common to the genre: smarts, laughs and an awful lot of surprises. What “Scream” did for “Halloween” fifteen years ago, Whedon and Goddard do for… well, pretty much every horror movie that isn’t “Halloween.”
SXSW ’12 Review: ‘Electrick Children’ An Offbeat Indie With A Trio Of Charming Young Leads
Opening the Generation section of the 2012 Berlinale, which is designed to promote films for, by and/or about young people, we honestly weren’t sure what to expect from “Electrick Children,” the debut film from writer/director Rebecca Thomas.
Exclusive SXSW Clip: ‘Charles Bradley: Soul Of America’ Promises An Engrossing Tale Of A Late-Life Music Career
If you haven’t heard the name Charles Bradley, chances are, by the end of SXSW you will. If you’re looking for a moving documentary that will also have you tapping your toes, “Charles Bradley: Soul Of America” might just fit the bill.
Exclusive SXSW Clip: Lukas Haas Has A Gift For Madeline Zima In ‘Crazy Eyes’
Things are rolling and underway in Austin as the SXSW Film Festival kicks off. Cinephiles, press and everyone else are faced with a plethora of films over the next week, all hoping to snag their attention, and director Adam Sherman will be in town with his sophomore effort “Crazy Eyes.”
Shadow and Act
SXSW 2012 Review – “Dreams Of A Life” (A Harrowing Reconstruction Of A Life From Collected Fragments)
Carol Morley’s heartfelt docu-drama “Dreams Of A Life” begins with a series of questions (How could this have happened to any human being? How did she die? How is it that for 3 straight years absolutely no one learned of her death), and ends in a mystery, with some of those initial questions still left unresolved.
SXSW 2012 Review – “The Raid: Redemption” (Indonesian Actioner Delivers Relentless Bloody Brutality)
A film that’s already developing a cult following, even though it’s only commercial exhibits have been on the film festival circuit, starting with a 2011 Toronto Film Festival debut (it’s now a Sony Pictures property, scheduled for a US and Indonesia release in March of this year), The Raid: Redemption turned out to be exactly as others who’d already seen it, universally described it: a relentless, bloody, brutal action movie, with successive scene after scene of balls-to-the-wall-style choreographed violence that made even this writer flinch in a few instances.
SXSW 2012 Review – “Brooklyn Castle” (A Moving Look At The Trials & Triumphs Of A Junior High School’s Chess Team)
An absolutely wonderfully-produced feature documentary filled with touching, inspirational stories of hope, ambition and perseverance.
SXSW ’12 Review: “Gimme The Loot” Charismatic Duo Goes For Mischievous Ride, But It Runs Out Of Steam
The story about teen hoodlums Malcolm and Sofia, played by newcomers Tysheeb Hickson and Tashiana R. Washington, seeking revenge for their botched Graffiti art, is hardly hardcore and dangerous. Filmmaker Adam Leon opts for a lighthearted and fun narrative instead that revolves around the platonic friendship and adventures of two Graffiti artists as they roam the streets of the NYC, and hustle for loot to avenge rival gangs by Graffitti spraying the NY Mets Home Run apple.
SXSW ’12 Review: “The Last Fall” Delivers An Earnest Look At Life After Football
Matthew Cherry’s directorial debut effort The Last Fall is one that we have followed from its inception on this site via our S&A Filmmaker’s Diary. It’s almost surreal that almost a year later the film is screening at SXSW Film Festival!
SXSW 2012 Review – “In Our Nature” (Strong Performances & Camera Work, But Ultimately Too Familiar)
A film like In Our Nature is exactly the type of film I’d expect to see at top tier independent film festivals like Sundance and SXSW; and that’s also exactly what the (or maybe rather my) quarrel with the film is. It’s exactly the kind of film I’d expect to see, and so there’s little about it that surprises.
SXSW 2012 Trailer – “Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots”
Here’s the trailer for the documentary feature Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots, directed by Mark Ford and produced by Wesley Jones, which is making its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival currently underway in Austin, TX where I am.