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SXSW Top Films – Printed in Oxford Town

March 20, 2008


Every year the world of film, music and interactive (those online people running the world) converge on Austin. With the hospitality of a small southern town and the cool laid back factor of the southwest, South by Southwest film, interactive, and music festival is a huge industry event with a homey feel. With thousands at the festival, you still manage to make new friends and run into old ones. At the film festival there are hundreds of movies to choose from, so many in fact that it is impossible to see everything while you are here. However, filmgoers try their hardest, standing in long lines 5 or 6 times a day in order to get in to as many films as possible. Some of the films are worth the wait and some are sadly a waste of time. Although I saw only 15 out of the two hundred or so films, here is part one (films 1-7) of what movies to look out for, what might make it to Oxford (someday) and what you can wait to just rent. (THE TOP 5 WERE PRINTED IN THE TOWN – THE OTHERS ARE EXCLUSIVE TO HERE)

Expect part 2 (films 8-15) next Thursday!

#7 – Super High Me is a stoner’s afternoon delight. Even if you have never been around marijuana, the film is 94 minutes of a comic masterpiece. Comedian Doug Benson decides to take from Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me but instead of fast food, he gets high for 30 days. But to do so, he must first (Benson is a known pothead) not smoke for 30 days. While you won’t learn much out of the film, you will be highly (pun intended) entertained. The best news is that your friendly Oxford Film Festival folks will be working with B-Side to bring the film to Oxford this year.

#6 – Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. See the review in the Oxford Town in April!


Stars Sean Nelson and Basil Harris at SXSW (Melanie Addington)

#5 – Probably the only opportunity Oxonians will have to see My Effortless Brilliance is when Director Lynn Shelton gets it out to a distributor for us to be able to rent it or if by chance she brings it to the Oxford Film festival. But for mumblecore fans, this is one film to keep your eye on. After seeing a few of this year’s mumblecoresque films, My Effortless Brilliance rose to the top as my favorite not only for its intimate look at the demise and rebuilding of a friendship between two men but the fact that their was no script. The entire movie is brilliantly improved by the actors Sean Nelson and Basil Harris.

#4 – At the world premiere of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the new Judd Apatow production, opened to a very positive crowd. The film stars Jason Segel (writer and star), Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show), Russell Brand (hysterical British comedian), and the always oddly amusing Bill Hader (who will also star in the upcoming Pineapple Express). Yes, it is a romantic comedy but it has just the right combination of crude humor and romantic aspirations to appeal to a wide audience. This was a fun movie to watch in a theater, but I could just as easily have rented it and laughed just as hard. Although seeing quite a bit of Segel (and by that I mean literally all of him) on the big screen was quite the treat. The film is set to release in theaters April 18.

Here is an “R” rated trailer from IGN:

#3 – Humboldt County was one of my top films at South by Southwest film festival. The acting and direction are phenomenal and I truly enjoyed the performances by Francis Conroy (Six Feet Under), Fairuza Balk, Brad Dourif, Chris Messina, and Jeremy Strong. I really am ready to buy the DVD. For anyone who has ever spent time in Northern California, but especially Arcata, you will understand when I tell you that this film captures the essence of the town. So yes, it is about a bunch of pot farmers, but it tells a more universal story.

Here is a recent interview at SXSW with realtvfilms:

#2Dance of the Dead is a delightful horror-comedy. Joe Ballarini wrote the story about prom night and the living dead. The movie combines a “Revenge of the Nerds” character stylization with the humor of the great 80’s horror flicks. Along with the plot, the special effects are some of the best I have seen for a zombie flick, particularly this ten second graveyard scene that is a great choreographed shot. While director Gregg Bishop said there are no plans for distribution quite yet, I believe the film is guaranteed to get picked up. The film is set to release October 20th of this year. I will also keep you posted on when this movie gets anywhere close to Oxford.

Here is a fun interview with some of the cast:

Dance of the Dead Interview Outtakes with Blair & Hunter

#1 – The Promotion is my favorite from SXSW film festival and probably will make it to my favorites of 2008 review. The Promotion is a delightful comedy about two men (Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly) in a battle of wits to promote to the manager position at the new grocery store, similar to but much better than Employee of the Month. This is one of those rip-roaring, roll on the floor, movies and is definitely worth seeing in a theater. I have yet to find out a release date for this one, The release date is June 6th. but since it is a Weinstein distribution, it will most likely make it to Oxford at some point this summer. I will keep you posted!

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