In a little while we'll be shoveling out our list of the ten best films from this year's South by Southwest Film Festival, and we'll continue to finish off our reviews over the weekend, but in the meantime I figured I'd stop by and give you my final thoughts (as a person who attended the fest for the first time this year). SXSW is wayyy different from, say, Sundance or even Tribeca, because there's an unbelievable amount of partying going on ... all the time. You can't leave a screening without seeing a row of about seven bars lined up across the street -- all of which have live music blaring out their doors. Yeah. So it's a bit difficult to see a film, then run home and review it -- because there are several different awesome obstacles in your way. Not that that's a bad thing.

First off, a few films that really need some love:

  • Starring John C. Reilly and Seann William Scott, The Promotion was, by far, the funniest film I've seen all year. If you adore Election, then you'll definitely like this flick -- which I've said is like Election ... but in a supermarket ... with older guys.
  • I'm not much of a horror guy AT ALL, but Dance of the Dead was one helluva fun flick. So fun that half our Cinematical crew went to see it twice in, like, three days. Of course, watching it at the Alamo Ritz was definitely part of the experience (they shot down confetti during one scene ... and it was super awesome), but the film itself is still one of the more original zombie flicks I've seen since Shaun of the Dead. Very funny. Very well done. (Two words: Graveyard scene.)
  • Joe Swanberg's Nights and Weekends was another flick I really enjoyed. Different, unique -- it may piss off those of you looking for structured plots and predictable outcomes, but give it a shot when IFC releases it later this year. (Keep in mind, though, that Joe is fond of "revealing his parts" on screen.)
  • I also adored both Super High Me and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I don't think those need the love -- folks will flock regardless of what I say.

After the jump ... I become a superhero and save one thousand half-nekked women from a group of monsters and three psycho nuns -- all while eating BBQ at Iron Works with Weinberg ...


Okay, so I did not save one thousand half-nekked women from monsters and psycho nuns, but on my last day at SXSW, as promised, Mr. Weinberg took me to Iron Works for a fantastic BBQ lunch. As we ate, Weinberg listed a number of other fabulous BBQ joints in and around Austin, but his words were going in one ear and out the other -- for the ribs I was snacking on were ridiculously awesome. Mmmmm, I'm hungry just thinking about them. Why does Austin have be such an awesome city for people who love movies AND love to eat? It's no fair. (How many times have I said the word 'awesome' so far? I lost count.)

There are some other highlights (like running into a slew of incredible filmmakers I admire), but the rest is lost in a haze. When you're attending a fest like SXSW, the days all merge into one -- long nights give way to morning hangovers, and when you open your bag you'll almost always find some surprise from the night before (like the morning I found Weinberg's wallet and press badge with no idea how they got in there).

If I had to complain at all about Austin, I'd say there weren't enough late night snack options in my area. Yes, there was the expensive pizza on 6th street (which was beyond horrible), and What-a-Burger (which had pretty tasty onion rings), but for a festival that's best late at night, those local businesses need to take more advantage of the drunken crowds. Keep in mind, most of us don't have cars!

Other than that, all of us had an absolute blast. Thanks to SXSW producer Matt Dentler for giving us another tremendous line-up full of great films (as well as for getting me a beer at the closing night party), and thanks to all my Cinematical peers who were in attendance (Scott, Kim, Jette, Peter, Snider, Chris C.) -- and thanks to those random Cinematical friends we met along the way (Goss, Eugene, Jason, Melanie, Justin, Hunter, Alex, Neil, Campea, Peter, Brian, Arin, Susan, Jess, Duplass #1 (aka Mark), Duplass #2 (aka Jay), Joe, Greta, Karina, Kevin ... and many many more).