DID YOU READ

Our top 20 movies to see at SXSW this year

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By Jordan Hoffman

Last year I saw 26 films at South By Southwest. I also ate a dinner plate-sized donut covered in bacon and maple icing. Yeah, it’s not a festival for the weak.

This year’s lineup looks incredible – and a little intimidating. When you consider that SXSW is also loaded with music events, panels with all sorts of industry mavens and viral interactive opportunities (i.e. gorgeous young women and men smiling and shoving apps in your face) it can seem a bit overwhelming. Luckily, you have us.

I’m gonna’ go easy on you and give you 20 films to see because a) it isn’t, like, your JOB to see as many movies as possible and b) there are a lot of awesome vinyl shops and kimchi taco trucks you need to check out while you are in Austin.


“Cabin in the Woods”

Everything you’ve heard about this movie is true, and if you’ve heard nothing that’s even better. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon take a lifetime of genre movie love and put it all up on the screen. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are fantastic as the. . .well, to tell you who they are would be spoiling it. Just trust me – you want to see this movie and you want to see it soon, before the hype (and the spoilers) become unbearable.


“Casa de Mi Padre”

Forbidden love and criminal intrigue set in a family-owned Mexican ranch. Yeah, okay. . .sounds like it could be good, I guess. Did I mention this Spanish-language film stars Will Ferrell and is written and directed by SNL and Funny or Die alum? Okay, who’s ready for tequila shots?


“Los Chidos”

Another Mexican film, this one set in the fabled world of roadside tire repair shops, “Los Chidos” shows how the appearance of a stranger can slowly change the ecosystem of any controlled group. Written and directed by Omar Rodriquez-Lopez, who you may know better as one of the two mad geniuses behind the psychedelic jam/doom-rock band The Mars Volta.


“21 Jump Street”

Up until just a few weeks ago I had little interest in seeing Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum revive “21 Jump Street,” even if it was a comedic take. I mean, what, is it the 90s again? Didn’t we learn anything from the “Beverly Hillbillies” movie? While I haven’t yet seen the movie myself, at least four colleagues whose opinion I deeply trust have seen this and say it is genuinely funny in a clever and creative way.


“Fat Kid Rules The World”

Matthew Lillard (yeah, that’s right, Shaggy from “Scooby-Doo”) directs a movie wherein a suicidal fat kid rises to the top of the Seattle punk scene. It is based on a popular young adult novel by a woman with two initials in her name, so you know it’s going to be big.


“Thale”

If “Trollhunter” taught me anything, it’s that I want more Norwegian movies about mythical beasts. Two slacker-y crime scene cleaners uncover a hidden “Huldra,” (a tailed forest nymph) kept hidden in a cellar. What follows looks to be simultaneously creepy and beautiful.


“The Sheik and I”

Caveh Zahedi’s “I Am A Sex Addict” was one of the great “I can’t tell if this is a documentary or not” films of the last five years, and it looks like he’s got another one up his sleeve. On a commission from a Middle Eastern arts council he is challenged to make a film about “subversive art” on the one condition that he not say anything negative about an underwriting Sheik. Which is, of course, exactly what he does. “The Sheik and I” is probably the only film at this year’s SXSW against which a fatwa has been declared.


“V/H/S “

I’m sure fatwas would be issued against some of the sick things in V/H/S, too, if audiences weren’t having such a good time. I saw this anthology of found footage shorts at Sundance and can’t remember the last time I had such a thorough group gasp. It’s gross, it’s funny and it’s really, really scary – a midnight flick to see with an enthused Austin audience.


“The Source”

Perhaps it is just me, but I’ll be forever fascinated with stories from the hardcore counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yeah, I don’t need another montage of street demonstrations to the tune of “All Along The Watchtower,” but this documentary expose about a California commune that made psychedelic rock and sold vegetarian meals on the Sunset Strip looks fantastic. One of its associate producers is named Isis Aquarian, so you know it is legit.


“John Dies At The End”

There are no shortage of places to grab a drink in Austin, so we feel safe in suggesting you have a few rounds with your buddies and then check out Don Coscarelli’s supernatural sci-fi freakout. Based on the beloved cult novel, this dimension-shifting, consciousness-expanding paranormal detective story is the stuff midnight movie dreams are made of. And Paul Giamatti is in it, too.


“Jeff”

Not that I spend too much time doing a compare and contrast, but Jeffrey Dahmer is probably the creepiest of all the modern-era serial killers. This documentary takes a look at the people and places that occupied the unhidden side of Dahmer’s life prior to his 1991 arrest. I doubt the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce is thrilled with this one.


“The Hunter”

Willem Dafoe sent by a (no doubt nefarious) biotech firm to chase down the last surviving Tasmanian tiger. I’d tell you more about it, but I’m trying to keep myself unspoiled. How can this be bad? Sam Neill co-stars.


“Just Like Being There”

There’s no point in going to SXSW if you don’t get the poster. “Just Like Being There” dives deep into the subculture of gig posters with interviews of the artists and their ardent fans. The local heroes behind Mondo, the makers of high end movie prints, make an appearance, which ought to bring the house down in an orgiastic cry of “WANT!”s.


“Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes”

But if you want to get into subcultures, I doubt you are gonna’ top this doc. Remember the time you saw a gravity-based bong that looked the hydra from the old “Dungeons and Dragons” cartoon? Now you can meet the artisans behind such functional masterpieces of craft. Screens not included.


“Keyhole”

The hyper-stylized Canadian film director Guy Maddin is back with what, by his standards, looks like something of a normal film. Jason Patric and Isabella Rossellini star in this moody tale of regret and gangsterism. It also features Kevin McDonald, and considering Maddin’s previous “The Saddest Music in the World” starred Mark McKinney we’d like to salute the director for keeping the former members of The Kids in the Hall employed.


“Bernie”

Jack Black, Shirley McLaine and Matthew McCaConaughey team with Austin’s favorite son Richard Linklater for this based-on-truth dark comedy about crime and punishment. If anyone can bring Jack Black from his transformation into the next Robin Williams it’s Linklater.


“The Raid”

This Indonesian action picture concludes its festival tour in Austin after a successful run around the globe. Sony Pictures Classics is releasing it soon and then it will be a frat house favorite for years to come, but you owe it to yourself to see this video game informed, next level of martial arts masterpiece with a late night SXSW crowd. It has some of the most mind blowing, never ending action sequences since John Woo’s “Hard Boiled.”


“Frankie Go Boom”

I have no idea what this movie is about, but I’m just going to quote the blurb from the SXSW site. It makes its own case for being included on this list: “a flik by bruce about his little brother frank who’s a crybaby fuck who shudnt do lame-ass emberrissing shit if he doznt want people 2 see it on the internet”


“The Comedy”

Tim Heidecker stars in a button-pushing non-comedy about a rich, slacker douchebag who behaves terribly and dares you to tell him to go to hell. A divisive, daring film that caused a mini-uproar at Sundance, but hasn’t quite yet shaken me from its spell.


“Starlet”

You should see this movie because my friend Chris Bergoch co-wrote it. He’s a really funny, smart guy – and nice, too. I’m sure it is also a good movie (Sean Baker, director of two terrific immigrant stories “Take Out” and “Prince of Broadway” made it with him) but I’d be deceiving you if I didn’t disclose that I’m including this film because I’m proud of my friend. The blurb makes it sound like a “Harold and Maude”-type movie if Harold was a young slacker chick.


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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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