At the risk of alienating our entire readership with this highly controversial opinion, South By Southwest is always fun. Oh, sure, you Austin natives may have to deal with out-of-town headaches like myself taking up your parking spots and occupying seats at your favorite eateries chatting up fabulous celebrities, but try to see things from my perspective. I get to jet up the I-35, and inside an hour’s time, I’m one of the beautiful people. My friends are all in town, I get to see a bunch of bands and movies for free, and I can annoy impoverished scenesters by waving my all-access badge around. And, best of all, while the music side of the festival is starting to turn into an unmanageable mess, the film festival, which I’ll be covering alongside Austin Decider capo Sean O’Neal, seems to get better every year.
SXSW Film 2009 promises an interesting slate of flicks, with more intriguing-sounding documentaries than ever, and a few big-league narrative features, most notably the Paul Rudd vehicle I Love You, Man, which will be taking up space at your local multiplexes any day now. But the real kick for festivalgoers, if not for filmmakers, is knowing that they’ll have the chance to see movies that might not get any kind of general release, and it’s those rare treats that often are the biggest standouts.
Naturally, I’ve set up a pretty heavy slate of moviegoing for the next two weekends, and I try to cram as many screenings and interviews into my schedule as possible. Just as naturally, all my careful planning tends to fall to pieces by about Day 2, when exhaustion and whatever illicit drugs I’m taking to combat exhaustion start competing with the movie I’m watching for attention in my brain. But if I manage to stick to the plan, there’s a lot to look forward to:
I’ll be kicking off the festival with Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel’s New World Order, a documentary about conspiracy nuts, and I’ll make sure to catch Austin favorite Andrew Bujalski’s latest movie about white people who can’t relate to one another, Beeswax. A lot of this year’s movies are aimed straight at my strike zone: Iron Maiden: Flight 666 appeals to my love of heavy metal, Best Worst Movie appeals to my love of junk culture, and Ong Bak 2 appeals to my love of watching people from Thailand kick each other.
I’m especially looking forward to American Prince, a full-length feature on the unique individual who played the gun dealer in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and to the creepy-sounding Australian horror flick Lake Mungo. Say My Name, a documentary on women in hip-hop, looks to be a standout, and Artois the Goat could be a weird sleeper in the narrative category; and, for strictly superficial reasons, I’m looking forward to For the Love of Movies, Gerald Peary’s film about film critics. And while I don’t really know much about the Deagol Brothers or their movie Make-Out with Violence, I do greatly enjoy both making out and violence, so I’m sure to give that a whirl.
So, if you see me, Austin, say hello! I’ll be the fat drunk in your favorite bar, clumsily hitting on that bartender you like.