Judd Apatow

The Best and Worst of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival

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The SXSW Film Festival will continue through the weekend (albeit mostly with repeat screenings and music-related films, pegged to the concurrent music fest), but your correspondent has returned from Austin, with a belly full of BBQ and a head full of leftover images and snatches of dialogue from the 21 narrative and documentary films I took in over my week in Texas. Here are a few thoughts on each, along with the best and worst films I saw there.
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How SXSW Became a Haven for Mainstream Studio Comedies

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AUSTIN, TX: “So do we like to laugh here at South by Southwest?” asked festival director Janet Pierson in the introduction to Monday night’s premiere of the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard, and the reaction was, unsurprisingly, affirmative. Yet not all festival crowds might react the same way. The common perception of the “film festival movie” is something staid and serious and perhaps even dull: micro-budgeted black-and-white relationship dramas, documentaries on puzzlingly esoteric topics, maybe a coming-of-age-in-the-summer movie with a few mild chuckles. Director Paul Feig announced Sunday night, at the premiere of his comedy Spy, “Film festivals are a very dangerous thing, because we’re comedians and we do comedy, and we tend to be looked at the bastard children of real movies.” But comedy filmmakers — even those like Feig who work with big budgets for big studios — have found an unlikely home at SXSW. “Austin really opens up its heart and just allows us to entertain you,” he explained to the sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theater, which cheered wildly in response.
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“People Don’t Know What the Word ‘Feminism’ Means”: Amy Schumer on Internet Trolls, Her Comic Persona, and ‘Trainwreck’

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AUSTIN, TX: “Judd Apatow is like an oracle,” Amy Schumer says of the director of her new starring vehicle Trainwreck, which premiered Sunday at the SXSW Film Festival. “If you look at people that are huge stars now, he put them in movies before you knew who they were, and he just has a good sense.” Then, as she does onstage, she catches herself, hears herself, and continues, “Not that I’m saying, like, ‘Guys, this is the last time you’ll see me, I’m about to blow up,’ but I’m saying…” We laugh, and she laughs, but it’s not exactly a joke; based on Trainwreck’s gangbusters reception, Amy Schumer is about to be a major movie star. And we’re ready for it.
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10 SXSW 2015 Movies We Can’t Wait to See

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Hold my calls, I’ll be in Austin. Yes, tomorrow marks the start of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, one of the most purely enjoyable weeks of the movie year (and, no small side plus, a welcome blast of sunshine after a particularly miserable winter). With a remarkable 145 features in this year’s fest — from a record 2,385 submissions — there’s no way to even come close to seeing everything that looks interesting, or striking, or fun. But here are a few of the movies we’re looking forward to seeing, either in Austin or soon thereafter.
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Maureen Dowd Stumbles Upon Female “Raunch” Comedy, Proclaims It a Trend

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It is one of the small pleasures of life to see a New York Times op-ed columnist come down from her tower, take notice of a phenomenon in the culture sphere, and proclaim it an actual trend. It is even better when that trend has been percolating for over a decade, as is the case with the subject of Maureen Dowd’s most recent column, “Dirty Words From Pretty Mouths.”
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Fey, Poehler, Maron, and Apatow Begin Stand-Up’s Overdue Reckoning With Bill Cosby’s Comedy Legacy

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Last week, I was reading (and enjoying) Patton Oswalt’s new book Silver Screen Fiend, a memoir of his four-year film addiction, which occurred as he was simultaneously finding his footing as a comedian. In describing the latter progression, he writes: “I’d spent the first nineteen years of life memorizing every comedy album I could play on my parents’ turntable. I knew the exact timing for the pause between the words ‘waited’ and ‘July’ in Bill Cosby’s ‘Revenge’ routine.” That line, the first of several examples of his comedy obsession, jumps out and jars — due, of course, to timing beyond Oswalt’s control. The book was presumably put to bed long before the accusations of Cosby’s decades as a serial rapist resurfaced last fall; the line serves as a reminder not just of his vaunted position in the comedy community, but of how slow that community has been to react to the accusations. This week, the tide began to turn, first with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s jaw-dropping Cosby jokes in their Golden Globes introduction, then with a candid conversation the next day between Judd Apatow and Marc Maron on Maron’s WTF podcast.
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‘Girls’ Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Iowa”

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The fourth season of Girls, like the first season of Girls, begins with Hannah Horvath’s parents taking her out to dinner. The contrast is as striking as it is intentional: the skeezy guy Hannah was then hooking up with is now her boyfriend; the unpaid internship that was then winding down (without a paying job in sight) is now an acceptance to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. And of course, this dinner is a celebration, not an abrupt announcement that Hannah’s financially on her own.
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The 10 Goofiest “Viral” Marketing Campaigns in Movie History

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Taken 3 (or, as its ads would have it, TAK3N — which I believe is pronounced “Take-three-en”?) is out Friday, and I can’t tell you anything about it, because (as is so often the case with the little masterpieces we’re given in January) it’s not being screened for critics. But I can tell you that it’s being marketed with a totally awesome LinkedIn campaign! Yes, the year’s least necessary sequel and your most annoying email sender have paired up to create a little bit of online movie marketing magic, reminding us that when it comes to creating film ad campaigns with the express purpose of “going viral,” the occasional Blair Witch or Cloverfield is often counterbalanced by numerous laughable embarrassments.
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