The SXSW film festival finished with another astonishing line up of films, making the beast that is SXSW continue to grow with a strong lineup that once again proves the beast that is SXSW is a formidable player in the international film festival world. Sprinkle a little Sundance and a hint of Austin weirdness with thousands of film lovers and dozens of filmmakers rubbing shoulders.
It wasn’t always this way. SXSW used to focus more on micro-budgeted indie features and documentaries, but in recent years studios have also started to flock to Texas, which has given SXSW more star power and clout. Here are our favorite films from this year’s festival.
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is almost like an adult version of an adventurous 1980’s youth adventure, when the grown-ups are the bad guys, as the kid takes on the star role and headlines the harrowing journey. Only this time, the kid has super powers and there are actually a few more adults acting as good guys. Jeff Nichols helms this film as, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL highlights a chase across the country as a couple of creepy religious zealots, a bunch of government spooks and a couple of grown-ups trying to do the right thing harness the super human powers of a special child in the effort to capture him or guarantee his freedom.
Sausage Party gives the vibe of a film that features a few of Hollywood’s best actors and comedians for another random animated film. But this outrageously raunchy, CG ‘animated film will actually have viewers saying “holy s**t!”, while laughing uncontrollably. Dreamed-up from twisted minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this R-rated animated comedy is like a perverted Pixar film with weed and twisted humor. While the film wasn’t presented in it’s full final edited cut, the story and humor is the to your laughter heart attack you’ll most likely encounter during the film.
Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater’s long-awaited “sequel” to Dazed and Confused delivers a masterpiece of college debauchery with it’s ensemble cast. The film explores the perverted moments of freedom after our teenage years as we enter the world of college adulthood when a house of sin, heavy booze, babes, and sports, ruled the life of young men. This is coming of age comedy is easily Linklater’s funniest film since Dazed, as he reigns king of comedic ensemble story-telling. The film is slated to hit theaters this April.
Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday
It’s been a really long time since we’ve seen Pee-wee’s big-screen adventures. Can you believe Paul Rubens is 63 years old? Judd Apatow and director John Lee developed an enjoyable continuation film filled with some of Pee-Wee’s old playful gags funny gadgets that surround the character’s life in this made for Netflix movie. It may not be a hit with the millennial crowd, but some of us that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s will appreciate Paul Reubens’ beloved character on the big screen (after 1985’s “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”). “Big Holiday,” is the first Netflix film to premeir at SXSW.
Tower, directed by Keith Maitland, explores the 1966 University of Texas clock tower mass shooting that took place here in Austin. The film doesn’t get any more local than this as it features archival news footage and audio recordings with reenacted scenes and witness interviews established in a beautiful and almost watercolor animation process. The film is loaded with tense drama making it an extremely emotional film for those who lived through the terrifying moment in history.