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Friday, March 11, 2011

I will probably never forgive myself or be forgiven by John Laird for, with nary an afterthought, turning down his offer of a free SXSW badge. Just writing it makes the acidic poison of responsibility seem that much more real, and the idea of abandoning said responsibilities to jaunt on down to the dusty climes of Austin, Texas that much more impossible. The films, the music, the beer, BBQ, and tacos, all are a floating dream just out of clenched fingers.

Thus, it is with great regret in lieu of actually attending a slew of amazing films and concerts that Iím instead going to compile a list of the films I would most want to see if I was attending the concert. And let me tell you, I thought a once over of the list would be enough to buff a few clear winners in to the spotlight, but Jesus, if I wasnít down enough already, SXSW is bringing some serious contenders to the plate this year. Theyíve broken them down in to a handful of categories and Iíll be gingerly scooping them from each. In terms of the films that donít make the list, I already know youíre excited about Win Win, Source Code, and Paul so Iím not choosing to recommend them again. The films at SxSW which I believe you should see, and I should somehow scrounge my way in to later on in the year, are the original pieces, the new, the crazy, the boundary pushing - because, hell, youíre at a festival and thatís what youíre meant to do.

So, for you attending, good luck and godspeed. For the rest of us schlubs, crack a cheap warm beer and listen to some modern garage rock on a warped cassette player - itíll be like your actually there.

PS - All of the show time for these films can be found here.

- Noah's SXSW Film Picks -

01. Attack The Block, d. Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish is one of Edgar Wrightís constant collaborators and this, his first feature length film has the duoís brand of genre-bending smeared all over it. A group of inner city kids have to defend themselves against a horde of alien invaders. Itís like Menace To Society mixed with The Thing. Also, Nick Frost is in it, with a beard. You had me at "with a beard."

02. The FP, d. Jason & Brandon Trost, trailer

Frazier Park is overrun by gangs. Gangs who exert dominance through to-the-death battles of hyperkinetic dance video game, Beat Beat Revolution. Sounds like some serious and hilarious world building to me injected with a tasteless amount of gore.

03. Separado!, d. Dylan Goch & Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys, frontman for the amazing Super Furry Animals, has always been a bit of a character. Iíve had the opportunity to work within an orbit of his orbit, and the stories that get passed down the line make him seem like a Welsh cartoon character. This, a documentary about his search for a long lost Patagonian uncle, sounds like the sort of legend heís been weaving for years.

04. El Bulli: Cooking In Progress, d. Gereon Wetzel

Iíve always had a sort of strange draw towards the art of cooking, and though I canít say that molecular gastronomy (the combination of science and food) always attracts me, El Bulli, one of the originators, always has. Only open for 6 months of the year, the world famous Spanish restaurant creates a 40 course eating experience for any and all lucky enough to land a reservation. A greater look in to the process, the pain-staking process I assume, of the creation of this menu sounds absolutely fascinating.

05. Armadillo, d. Janus Metz

Films about war have become almost background noise to me these days, and though sad, it takes a strongly recommended one for me to even feign interest. Armadillo might just be that. Firstly, it follows Danish soldiers, not American soldiers, a group I know nothing about. Thereís a lot to say about culture by the way in which its military performs, and a chance to pull back the curtain on Denmarkís sounds fascinating. Secondly, and finally, Denmark has a great sort of cultural cinematographical style, and applying the crisp, coldness so apparent in their films to the unending war in Afghanistan canít be a bad idea.

06. blacktino, d. Aaron Burns

Every stereotype of African-Americans has been slandered across the big screen, but what about the black dork? What about the nerdy black kid who loves Dungeons And Dragons and loves the John Stewart incarnation of Green Lantern? Nothing. Well, until now. Aaron Burns directorial debut has been garnering some serious praise on the dork circuit, and I curse John Laird under my breath for his chance to see it.

07. Bellflower, d. Evan Glodell

This film sounds batshit in every way, but all of my favorite online reviewers showered it with gooey praise after its premiere at Sundance. I mean the film has ballsy women, carnage, and fire-breathing cars. Iím not even going to mess with a plot synopsis. Just chew on that.

08. CONVENTO, d. Jarred Alterman

This on the other hand I will sell based entirely on its plot summary:

"Artist Christiaan Zwanikken resurrects deceased wildlife by reanimating the skeletal remains with servomotors and robotics. He breeds these new species in a 400-year-old monastery in Portugal, restored from ruins and converted into his laboratory."

Yes, you should see this.

09. Septien, d. Michael Tully

This was another smash at Sundance. A deranged, Jesus-loving, sports-hustling brother returns home after a long disappearance. And I imagine weird shit happens. The trailer has a sort of hushed, electric madness to it that just draws you right in. Also, who doesnít like a film about Jesus freaks who can play hoop? Heathens, thatís who.

10. Beginners, d. Mike Mills

Ewan Macgregor and Christopher Plummer play a father and son whom bond over the fatherís sudden revelation that heís gay. Macgregor is a gem when used correctly, and from everything Iíve heard, heís amazing in this film. It looks simple and funny and sad in such a heart-breakingly honest way.

Hereís the great thing. I just picked 10 films from the festival you should probably see. Or at least I would most definitely see if I was able to attend. But thereís easily ten, twenty, or thirty others Iíd recommend. Youíre going to the festival? Youíre a lucky bastard. Go see some great films.

- Noah Sanders -

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