SXSW Film Festival: Day 1

My first night at the SXSW Film Fest was all about waiting in lines. I caught Kick-Ass, the new comic-book adaptation about a teen who decides to become a superhero, after waiting in line for nearly two hours. then I missed the sneak look at footage from Predators (coming out this summer) because by the time I got from the Kick-Ass screening to the other theater, the line was already snaking around two corners. that line conveniently turned into the line for my third planned movie of the night, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which played at midnight. By the time I got into Tucker, I’d waited in that line for another two hours. four hours of lines, roughly three and a half hours of movies. Ugh. Luckily, this won’t continue once we’re past the big-buzz movies that play on the first weekend. More luckily, I enjoyed both the movies.

Kick-Ass may feature a teen and a ten-year-old in superhero costumes, but this is NOT a family movie (a fact that is going to make the marketing a headache for the studio, I imagine). Based on a Mark Millar comic book, the film balances knowing references to superhero lore (with specific homages and/or riffs on Spiderman and Batman movies) with ultra-violence that recalls Tarantino’s work in the Kill Bill movies. Just imagine replacing hot Uma Thurman with a little girl who’s equal parts sugar, spice and ninja. the thing that makes it fun is the way director Matthew Vaughn can shift gears from masturbation jokes about our teen hero to blood-spattering action to quintessential superhero movie moments like the visit to a relative’s grave in times of superhero doubt and the bold pose atop a building.

Tucker & Dale is also a movie for genre buffs, this time for anyone who’s followed the whole cycle of ‘co-eds go into the woods and get massacred’ flicks. Writer/director Eli Craig and his screenwriting partner Morgan Jurgenson have found a new spin that’s funny and clever: Imagine this story from the perspective of two innocent hillbillies whose encounters with those darn snooty college kids just keep leading to—whoops—kids dying in implausible accidents that look like the work of deranged psychos. It’s a funny premise, and though there are a few slow spots, it’s perfect midnight movie fare, aimed at a crowd that wants to laugh and knows the rules of the genre (the mere appearance of a wood chipper on screen got a knowing laugh of anticipation from the crowd).

Today, I’m hoping for shorter lines. I’ve got a comedy about a guy who wakes up to find he’s been castrated (Barry Munday), a sci-fi flick that’s animated using a new cutting edge technique (Mars), a thriller about a former forensic science student who gets tangled up in a mystery (Cold Weather) and the new comedy starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill (Cyrus). Should be a good day, so check back in the morning for the latest.

SXSW Film Festival: Day 1

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