SXSW Movies To Get Excited About

SXSW Movie

Movies Set To Premiere At SXSW

First off, our hearts and prayers are with our neighbors in Austin this week. My son lives there. We all have people we love in or near our state capitol. And it’s time for South By Southwest. Yup. Once again.

It’s hard to believe that Austin’s “South By Southwest” festival has been around for 25 years!  It seems like only 2 and a half decades. The music & art showcase kicks off on Friday, March 9th. And, as always, there will be some buzz created by some of the films and documentaries that people see there.

From big-budget Hollywood movies, like Paramount’s “A Quiet Place” starring Emily Blunt, to some really cool music docs that you and I will love, there’s definitely something for everyone in this year’s hodge-podge of moving pictures. Let’s run down a few of the highly anticipated screenings.

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes – Some of you might be old enough to remember when Dick Cavett had a talk show. It was a GREAT one, and the format hasn’t seen another one like it since. He had Beatles, movie stars, politicians, and…the one guest guaranteed to rake in the ratings… Muhammed Ali.  Cavett had The Champ in his guest chair many times, and this documentary whittles those shows down to a fine point of pure brilliance.

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man – Bill Murray is modern comedy’s Zen Prankster.  You get the feeling sometimes that NOBODY is enjoying life more than Bill. He might show up playing the left-fielder position during your softball game, singing during your late-night karaoke sessions, crashing your bachelor party with some sage advice, or appearing in your no-budget student movie. But why? And how?  This documentary is determined to get to the bottom of the how, when and why of it all.

Elvis Presley: The Searcher – Ladies and Gentlemen. Elvis is BACK in the building! The King is back courtesy of this two-part, three-hour doc about Elvis that spans time from Sun Records sessions to mega-stardom to His Majesty shuffling off this mortal coil. Everyone from Tom Petty to Bruce Springsteen to Presley’s widow Priscilla weighs in on what promises to be a portrait of both the rock icon and the man. Elvis fans will love this (it has TONS of never-seen footage) and casual music fans will learn plenty.

Family – It’s not all music docs (even though it would be fine with me if it was!). SXSW has great feature movies this year, and “Family” promises to be one of them. The story of ‘Kate’ (played by Orange Is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling) who doesn’t particularly like children, getting stuck caring for her brother’s kiddos. And then? The daughter runs away. Gust stars Kate McKinnon and Matt Walsh.

Galveston – How about an Indie Flick involving a professional killer (Ben Foster, who tends to excel at playing charming psychotics) and a call girl (Elle Fanning), both on the run and ending up in the the Texas beach town mentioned in the title? And their past is about to catch up with them, in a major and fairly violent way. It’s one of those great movies based on the novel by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd – Just saying the name of the band conjures up 3-guitar Southern Rock chops, and Ronnie Van Zant’s voice. Next to The Allman Brothers, no other Southern band personified Mason-Dixon Boogie more than Skynyrd. This great new music doc unrolls the legend and legacy of the group, detailing everything from their first demos to the death of Van Zant and others in that horrible 1977 plane crash. There’s concert footage, crazy On-The-Road stories, some ambivalence about how the star-and-bars became associated with them, and a harrowing blow-by-blow account of the accident from surviving members.
P.S.: The first person to yell “Play Freebird!” at a screening will get a beer poured on his or her head.

The Legacy of the Whitetail Deer Hunter – Danny McBride is back for another one of his zany movies with frequent collaborator Jody Hill, and they’ve enlisted Josh Brolin into this display of their particular brand of Southern-fried, gonzo-dude lunacy, with Brolin playing a hunter named Buck Ferguson (great name!) who’s infamous for turning his popular how-to videos into a mini-empire. So naturally, what better way for Buck to bond with his preteen son than to take the kid on an adventure in the Great Outdoors, complete with cameraman (McBride) in tow? Guess what?  Surprise! Things don’t go as planned and yes, some of these characters do act like idiots!

Operation Odessa – Here’s a premise for an awesome movie:  A Miami hotshot, a Moscow-based gangster and a Cuban spy decide to team up for what seems like a lucrative deal with some friends of Pablo Escobar. The goal: to procure a Russian submarine for the Colombian Cartel so they can move cocaine better. The big question: “Do you want the submarine with missiles or without missiles?” (Silly question. Who wants a submarine without missiles?).  Only, instead of a movie, this is REAL! This film is a documentary. Take my money and hand me my popcorn. I’m in.

Paradox – Neil Young’s current girlfriend, Daryl Hannah, has made a film about Neil.  He wears old-timey western clothes, and friends like Willie Nelson drop by. Plus, there are characters named the Particle Kid, Jail Time and the Man in the Black Hat. this could be great…or it cold be a flaming wreck. We’ll just hafta see.

Prospect – SXSW has a ton of SciFi entries this year. But the one that everyone’s most excited about it this story of an interstellar prospector (Transparent‘s Jay Duplass), his teenage kid, a moonscape that’s apparently dripping with resources, and some fellow miners out to get rich or commit murder while trying. Game of Thrones Pedro Pascal and The Wire‘s Andre Royo co-star. Audiences love movies about father-daughter relationships and ones involving space madness. Put the two together and…can I get in line for this now?

A Quiet Place – Maybe you’ve seen the previews for this. It tends to run before recent movies like “Anihilation” and “Red Sparrow”. It looks pretty good, and when I saw the trailer, it definitely added this one to my “Okay, I’m gonna see that one” list.  The premise goes like this: A man (director John Krasinski), a woman (Emily Blunt) and two kids have somehow managed to survive some sort of genuinely awful event. How do they manage to avoid whatever it is out there that’s lurking about in the post-apocalyptic landscape, you ask? Well, they forage among abandoned townships, maintain a vigilant watch on the outside… and stay very, very quiet. If they DO make a sound, horrible things happen. Get ready to make your own loud noises during this toe-curling horror flick!


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