SXSW 2012

Six Lessons Learned at the SXSW Film Festival

Your humble film editor spent last week at the South by Southwest Film Festival — my first time not only at that event, but in Austin, period. (It’s a lovely town, full of friendly folks and outstanding smoked meat products.) Normally, when I go to a film festival, I just try to jam as many movies into my eye-holes as possible, but there were some interview and panel opportunities this year, and I knew you guys wouldn’t forgive me if I passed up the chance to talk to Patton Oswalt or Nick Offerman or Aubrey Plaza or Mike Birbiglia, or to go to panels with Joss Whedon or Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow. But the moviegoing took a hit — I accomplished a pathetic average of two movies per day. Hell, I do better than that sneaking into multiplexes at home.

And although I managed to see not a single solitary one of the SXSW Film award winners, I did learn some valuable lessons from the movies I did manage to see. I’ll share them with you after the jump! … Read More

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Hear 3 New Fiona Apple Songs Recorded Live at SXSW

What did you miss at South by Southwest this year? Oh, a couple great bands, Bruce Springsteen’s keynote speech, a whole lot of burrito-exacerbated hangovers — and two big comeback shows by Fiona Apple, who’s set release her fourth studio album in June. Those who caught the hot-ticket performances are raving, so we’re glad to see that videos from them have begun to pop up online. Although the clips vary in quality, Apple sounds as smoldering, soulful, and in control as ever, her songs surprising and diverse and painful and pretty. This first glimpse suggests that the Fiona we’ve missed these past few years is back — and not a moment too soon. Search “Fiona Apple SXSW 2012″ on YouTube to see some great renditions of old favorites like “Criminal” and “Fast as You Can,” and let us know what you think of the new material in the comments. … Read More

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Flavorpill's Favorite Discoveries From SXSW 2012

We’re still far from recovered from the total insanity that became our lives for five days this week at the ever-expanding South by Southwest music festival that invades Austin, Texas once a year. The number and density of shows is staggering, and though there were times we wished we could hide under a rock and take a nap for a little while, some of the best experiences we had were entirely accidental. We didn’t witness Arcade Fire playing with Bruce Springsteen, but we did see a bunch of new, interesting bands that inspired and surprised us. We bet you’ll be hearing more about them soon. … Read More

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This Week in Trailers: 'Dark Shadows,' 'Hemingway and Gellhorn,' and more

Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. We’ve got seven new trailers for you this week, including new films from Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, Kate Hudson, and a new Johnny Depp-Tim Burton collaboration. Check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments. … Read More

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How Mike Birbiglia Turned a Trip Through a Window into One of the Year's Best Films

AUSTIN, TX: Mike Birbiglia told the sleepwalking story for the first time at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. That was the first time he told it to a big audience, anyway: “I had told it on the road — I was on this Comedy Central Live tour, and I had come out with an album called Two-Drink Mike, and I found that for the first time in my career, I showed up in places and people knew my jokes. So I couldn’t tell those jokes anymore. Comedy’s not like music: once you’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, you’re done. And people were like, ‘Ha ha, what else?’ And I had been developing this one-man show, Sleepwalk with Me, and I just started telling stories from the show, that I had written never imagining that they would be in stand-up.” The centerpiece was the true story of how his sleepwalking condition go so out of hand that it led to him jumping out of a second-story window at a La Quinta Inn in Walla Walla, Washington. The injuries sent him to the hospital, which was enough for him to finally see a specialist.

At Just For Laughs, he says, “I told the story and it just killed, in this way that was getting kind of monstrous laughs, and was really connected with the audience. I came off-stage, and Doug Stanhope said to me, ‘Do you tell that story on stage?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m trying to.’ And he said, ‘You should tell that.'” … Read More

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The Morning's Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Fiona Apple played her first comeback show last night at the NPR Music showcase at SXSW; watch video of her performing “Anything We Want” and “Every Single Night” here.

3. Apparently Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad is a huge LMFAO fan. He also enjoys jamming to Leona Lewis and Chris Brown. [via … Read More

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Dunham and Apatow on 'Girls,' HBO's Next Insanely Great Series

AUSTIN, TX: When word started to circulate that Girls, the new HBO comedy series from writer/director/star Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) concerned a group of young single women living in New York, the lazy Sex and the City comparisons were immediate. We do not know if those musings were already out there when they shot their pilot episode, so it’s impossible to know whether the Sex and the City reference in it was reactive or preemptive. But this much is certain: a character’s obsession with the show (and whether she is “a Carrie” or “a Miranda” or whatever) is used to illustrate how insipid and insufferable she is. Well played, Dunham.

This is all good and well, because Girls is everything Sex and the City wasn’t: smart, honest, grounded, funny, and painful. Yes, it’s about four women in Gotham, and the sexuality is pay-cable graphic. And it is about women who are both sympathetic and kind of awful; the primary difference, of course, is that Girls actually knows that they’re kind of awful.

The first three episodes, which premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival Monday afternoon, are richly inventive and endlessly quotable; this is the most exciting and promising new comedy series since Community. It would be easy to shrug the show off as a TV continuation of Dunham’s breakthrough film, and to be sure, there are similarities; her character, Hannah, isn’t too far removed from Furniture’s Aura (or, seemingly, from Dunham herself), and her close yet dysfunctional relationships with men and lovers are similarly drawn. But it’s also a crisply executed, professional television comedy, thanks (presumably) to the guidance of executive producer Jenni Konner and her Undeclared colleague, Judd Apatow. … Read More

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Exclusive: Nick Offerman on His New Films, Nudity, and Being Ron Swanson

AUSTIN, TX: Nick Offerman’s giggle is a joy to behold. His high-pitched snicker has occasionally surfaced on his TV show, Parks and Recreation, where its enthusiasm and timbre sharply contrasts the no-nonsense nature of his already iconic character, libertarian parks department director Ron Swanson. But it’s always popping up in interviews, and it even comes out a couple of times in Somebody Up There Likes Me, the tragicomedy premiering here that he co-produced and co-stars in. It’s one of three films the busy actor has at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival; he also has a cameo in 21 Jump Street and a supporting role in Will Ferrell’s Spanish-language comedy Casa de mi Padre. “When it comes to specific roles,” he told me, “I really just try to eschew anything that is remotely Ron Swanson-esque, and I do my best not to have a mustache.” And that’s when he giggled. It’s incredibly charming. … Read More

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Aubrey Plaza Talks 'Safety Not Guaranteed' — Which Is NOT a Time-Travel Movie

AUSTIN, TX: The cast and crew of the wonderful new film Safety Not Guaranteed (playing this week at South by Southwest, after winning many hearts — including ours — at Sundance) would very much like you to know that their film is not “a time travel movie.” Sure, it is about time travel; it concerns a maybe-crazy, maybe-not semi-survivalist (Mark Duplass, above right) who is looking for a partner to accompany him on a journey in a time traveling machine that he claims to have built. But, as co-star Jake Johnson insists, “It’s a movie about time travel, but it’s not a movie about time travel.” Duplass concurs: “This really isn’t a time travel movie. It’s a relationship movie, kind of seen through the prism of time travel.” And writer Derek Connolly is firm on the point. “The time travel was like this thing that existed,” he says, something that “was there for themes and as a second level of meaning, but I didn’t ever really consider it a time-travel movie.”

So, it’s not a time travel movie then (though director Colin Trevorrow can’t resist mentioning that, when shooting began, he and Connolly received signed original Back to the Future posters from Robert Zemekis, inscribed “Best of luck on your time travel movie”). What they can agree on is that it is a warm, relationship-driven comedy/drama — and that it is the first leading role in a feature film for Parks and Recreation favorite Aubrey Plaza. … Read More

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Exclusive: Patton Oswalt on Acting, Stand-Up, and Evolving

AUSTIN, TX: Randy Stevens, the Boy Scoutmaster played by Patton Oswalt in the new comedy Nature Calls (which premiered this weekend at South by Southwest), is a funny character with a sadness about him; beaten down by the disinterest of the boys in his troop, living in the shadow of his successful brother (Johnny Knoxville), with little in his life but his love of Scouting — yet tirelessly dedicated to his self-appointed mission of bringing nature into the lives of his young charges.

Though Oswalt’s most high-profile acting roles to date have been in an intense, low-budget indie (Big Fan) and an acid-tongued, big-studio comedy/drama (Young Adult), the leading role in this dark comedy isn’t too far removed from those seemingly disparate turns. “He’s very much a true believer in what he loves, even though he might not have the most amount of skill to realize its execution,” Oswalt told me in a phone interview last week. “So I think there’s a lot in common with some of the other characters that I’ve played: they’re sort of dreamers, they’re almost lethally optimistic about their chances in life.” … Read More

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