AUSTIN, TEXAS: Yes, it’s that time of year again. The SXSW Film Festival (and the larger SXSW Conferences and Festivals) kicks off today here in Austin, and for the sixth straight year, Flavorwire is on the ground to soak up as many movies, panels, and BBQ dinners as is humanly possible. We’ll be here for a full week providing coverage of the happenings at SXSW Film – and these are some of the movies we’re looking forward to most.
Song to Song
This year’s big opening night movie sounds, from title to logline to cast, like a movie genetically engineered to open SXSW: a four-handed romance set in the Austin music scene, starring your crushes Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, and Michael Fassbender. Duly noted, however, that it is also the new film from Terrence Malick (his first to premiere at the festival), so it will be interesting to see if his latest relationship drama has any scenes of people talking to each other.
It’s been nearly four years since Edgar Wright’s last feature, the uproarious and surprisingly poignant The World’s End , but he’s spent the time working up something special: a fast-paced heist movie about a young getaway driver, which Wright reportedly wrote, shot, and cut in a style akin to a musical, scoring the movie to the non-stop music of his protagonist’s playlists (rather than the other way around). And he’s got a killer cast in on this one too, including Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Lily James, and Jamie Foxx.
The Disaster Artist
Much of the cult appeal of Tommy Wiseau’s legendarily terrible The Room lies in its otherworldliness – it’s a movie so disconnected from human behavior, it feels as though it were made by aliens. And who knows, maybe writer/director/star Wiseau was one (it would explain that implacable accent). But in 2013, co-star and line producer Greg Sestero published The Disaster Artist, an uproarious account of his experiences making this bonkers movie – and now it’s a movie itself, with James Franco directing and starring (of course) as Wiseau, with brother Dave as Sestero and Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Hannibal Buress, Sharon Stone, and Bryan Cranston in supporting roles.
A few years back, stunt guys Chad Stahelski and David Leitch made their directorial debut with the sleeper hit John Wick, though only the former was credited; Stahelski went on to direct John Wick 2 , and Leitch made this adaptation of Antony Johnston’s graphic novel The Coldest City. Here’s the main thing you need to know: it stars Charlize Theron as a superspy. It also has James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and John Goodman, which is all well and good, but to reiterate: Charlize Theron as a superspy.
Win It All
This viewer has always had a soft spot for the degenerate gambler movie, from California Split to Owning Mahowney to Mississippi Grind; here, Joe Swanberg takes a crack at the subgenre, reteaming with his Drinking Buddies and Digging For Fire leading man Jake Johnson. Johnson co-writes and stars as an unlucky stiff who can’t be trusted with a bag full of money; Keegan-Michael Key and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Joe Lo Truglio co-star.
Fits and Starts
Fun fact: Barry Jenkins’s last movie, before Best Picture winner Moonlight, was Medicine for Melancholy, a tiny-budgeted Before Sunrise-style chatty romantic comedy/drama whose main attraction was former Daily Show correspondent, stand-up comic, and general good guy Wyatt Cenac. And Cenac proved a sturdy and capable leading man, which is why it’s such a thrill to see him fronting this new comic romance about a struggling writer at an “artist’s salon,” from Laura Terruso, co-writer of last year’s charming Hello, My Name is Doris.
This provocative drama takes on sexual assault on campus, and the repercussions of such an assault on a student’s creative life (shades of Emma Sulkowicz). Director Natalia Leite’s previous feature was Bare, which made the moldiest of well-told stories new again via her keen eye and ear. It’ll be very interesting to see what she does with material this potentially incendiary.
Paris Can Wait
It’s always a thrill to see an ace documentarian take a crack at narrative filmmaking, and that’s what we’ve got here – the feature narrative debut of the co-director of 1991’s acclaimed documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Oh yeah, and she’s the wife of that film’s subject, Frances Ford Coppola, which may explain how Eleanor Coppola got the likes of Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane to head the cast of her little indie movie. It also, per IMDb, concerns the wife of “a successful, driven, but inattentive movie producer.” Hmmmm.
Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched
Frank Oz has had a colorful filmmaking career, starting out co-directing Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal and helming the third Muppets feature (he was a longtime member of that troupe, operating and voicing Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Animal, among others) before moving on to hits like Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What About Bob?, and Bowfinger. Now he’s come full circle, directing this documentary (his first) that reunites him with fellow Muppeteers Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta to discuss The Muppet Show, Henson, and the legacy of both.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
Last summer, we – and a lot of you, from what we could tell – were riveted by our former colleague Michelle Dean’s Buzzfeed story about Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde, a mother and daughter whose seemingly inspiring story of perseverance through illness ended with deception and murder. Now, it’s a feature-length documentary from Erin Lee Carr, director of Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop , so now it’s time to get sucked into that story all over again (before tackling it a third time, via the forthcoming Dean-penned narrative adaptation).
And that’s just a taste of what we’ve got on tap – watch this space all week for panels on your favorite TV shows, talks on representation on film and online, and reports from premieres a-plenty. Now, off to eat more ribs.