Some of the things I'm excited about at SXSW Film 2014

I was asked to put together some of my most anticipated SXSW films by another decent sized website as part of their festival coverage. The official list has pictures and other niceties (and some cool companion lists from co-workers to check out. Or it least it will by Friday. For now I wanted to give loyal readers (Hi Mom!) a sneak preview. 

They're not generally in any particular order of excitement for me. Except maybe the first few before the jump.

The Raid 2 - A sequel to one of the most fun action films I've seen in years, playing with a packed house the same 2000+ seat Paramount theater where I saw the first one - how could this not be on my must see list. If it's not on yours I question your ability to enjoy life. Well, maybe not completely - but at least a little bit.

Premature - A high school senior has to re-live losing his virginity over and over again until he gets it right."" I suspect there are two initial reactions possible to a film that looks like it would've been pitched as Groundhog Day meets American Pie

a. I can't believe they ripped off Groundhog Day?! That's lame. 
b. I can't believe they ripped off Groundhog Day and melded it with a raunchy teen sex comedy!?! How can I watch that as soon as possible! 

Being squarely in the second camp I'm going to be queuing up for the first available screening of this one. Also lending a positive buzz I was a fan of the FCU Fact Checkers shorts from director Dan Beers who also headed up Premature.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter - Love, love, love the idea of a woman from Japan believing that the missing satchel of money in Fargo is real and seeking to find it. I'm actively trying to lower my sky-high expectations to insure I don't hurt what I'm hoping to be a magical viewing experience.

The Infinite Man - "A man's attempts to construct the ultimate romantic weekend backfire when his quest for perfection traps his lover in an infinite loop." As a sucker for low budget time travel films who keeps hoping to see the next Primer or Timecrimes they had me at ""ultimate romantic weekend"" and ""time loop."

Born to Fly - OK - here I'm cheating as I've had a chance to preview this one and look forward to others seeing it. If Evel Knievel had been into dance, a bit LESS risk averse and had a borderline cult like following then this documentary would be about him. Instead it's about Elizabeth Streb the founder of ""pop action"" dance. Which is a mash-up of stunt work, acrobatics, dance, and general disregard for the laws of physics and good sense. Oh, sometimes with giant mechanical apparatuses thrown in for good measure. 

The dance is truly something to behold onscreen as company members throw themselves at walls, dodge rotating I-beams and generally make dance look more suicidal (or at least masochistic) than I'm used to seeing. The picture alternates between Streb's history, performances and interviews with her dancers. It's hard not to note the bordering on deity worship that has the young men and women literally risking life and limb to aspire to Streb's punishing esthetic ideals while barely making ends meet. But then again they seem to be having a hell of a lot of fun with their extreme take on motion arts.  

Either way - check this one out by any means necessary. Oh - and if someone has a ticket to a live performance by these folks count me in. Seriously - please....

Wild Canaries - A Brooklyn hipster whodunit brought to Austin by up and coming NYC indie filmmakers seems like a great risk to take at a festival like this. Whether it approaches the mumblecore genre blender genius of a Cold Weather remains to be seen but I'm feeling super optimistic on this one.

Only Lovers Left Alive - I go back and forth on the films of Jim Jarmusch. But this one has vampires. Tilda Swinton and great buzz. I'm in!

Boyhood - A drama shot by Richard Linklater with the same actors over a 10+ year span grabs my attention. The positive feedback it's received cements it. Cannot wait to experience all (almost) 3 hours of this one.

Fort Tilden - Frankly, the short summary "A comedy about Allie and Harper and their needlessly difficult journey to the beach"" had my attention from the start. As someone who personally often "neither knows where they are going nor how they plan to get there" the story of two young women attempting to get to the beach in NY with that same problem at hand sounds especially appealing.

Beyond Clueless - "Beyond Clueless is a dizzying journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie, as seen through the eyes of over 200 modern coming-of-age classics." I love that IMDb has the genres set for this film as documentary, romance and horror. Any documentary that melds together coming-of-age classics is definitely going to spill into the romance and horror genres. I have no idea what to expect, but cannot wait to see what director Charlie Lyne has cooked up.

Arlo and Julie - "A neurotic couple's obsession with a mysterious puzzle comically unravels their world, disconnecting them from reality and jeopardizing their fragile relationship."..... 'nuff said

Stage Fright - "A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater."" Seriously, do you really need me to explain the appeal of musical theater and bloody horror? If so, go find a way to watch the short film [link=tt1632641]The Legend of Beaver Dam[/link] and you'll see what I mean.

We'll Never Have Paris - "A man screws up on a transcontinental level in a noble effort to win back 'the one.'"" I'm a total sucker for this sort of thing. It's absolutely not that it was written and directed by Simon Heldberg of The Big Bang Theory. I actually just noticed that now. But I suppose for fans of his there's another reason to check it out.

Open Windows - Just being the new movie from Nacho Vigalondo the director of Timecrimes would be enough for me to put this one high on my must see list. Throw in what sounds like a potentially interesting plot and a much talked about scene shot at my beloved and much missed South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse ensures I'll be at the front of the line for this one.

Housebound - Being sentenced to home detention with your mom is one level of problem. Having your mom's belief that the place is haunted turn out to be true is another matter entirely. I'm not a ghost story fan in general - but properly executed I can really enjoy the genre. I'm in!

What We Do in the Shadows - New Zealand mockumentary about vampires trying to get by in the big city. It's got vampires, it's got humor. Yes, it seems to largely have the plot of the less than spectacular Vamps. But I'm still very much looking forward to it. Seems like the setup here may have stronger legs.

Among the Living - A group of kids meet their fears personified in something reading like Stand By Me meets any slasher film. I'm intrigued...

Big in Japan - Two things going for this one. It's the latest from the director of Outsourced (which I quite enjoyed - the movie not the TV show) and it's got a strong Seattle connection to the local band Tennis Pro. Sadly its playing a bit later in the festival when I'll be heading back. But I've added it to my watchlist to ensure I don't miss it later.

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