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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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Play along with movie trivia during "Scarface" tonight at 8P on IFC.

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Tony Montana is all about money, power and respect. And while we can’t promise you’ll get money or power by taking our Scarface quiz below, you will get respect if you get a perfect score. One out of three ain’t bad. Click below to take the quiz, and catch Scarface this month on IFC.

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This week we're laughing at Hank's Tufts commencement speech, Jason Alexander's shark facts and more.

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Photo Credit: YouTube/Tufts University

We’ve made it! Memorial Day weekend! But before we can complain that it’s over too quickly, take a moment to bask in the pre-break lack of productivity and enjoy some lighthearted videos.

From Hank Azaria channeling Chief Wiggum and other Simpsons characters while talking to college grads to “Shark-spert” Jason Alexander sharing questionable shark facts, here are five funny things from this week you need to watch.

1. Kermit Informs Fozzie Bear That They’ve Been Canceled

It’s never easy to see someone receive bad news, much less a Muppet. But if anything, Kermit’s poise and acceptance during a time of crisis is impressive, admirable even. Fozzie Bear, on the other hand, reacts with greater similarity to how we would: with baseless anger and utter despair.


2. Jason Alexander Offers Shark “Fin Facts”

Memorial Day weekend means the start of beach season, aka Shark Feeding Season. As part of IFC’s Shark Half-A-Day Memorial Day marathon, “sharks-pert” Jason Alexander offers up some interesting “fin facts” about our sharp-toothed friends from the deep. You can also check out Jason’s beach tips, and catch the Jaws movies with more “fin facts” from Jason this Memorial Day on IFC.


3. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke Confirms Dothraki Is a Real Language

With eyes still dewy from the climax of this past Sunday’s Game of Thrones (Hold the door!), the Mother of Dragons herself Emilia Clarke dropped by Late Night with Seth Meyers to throw the diehard fans a reason to smile: Yes, Dothraki is a real language. Watch Clarke discuss the phonetics and grammar involved with vying for Westeros rule.


4. Hank Azaria Gives Advice Through Simpsons Characters

Hank Azaria — star of The Simpsons, The Birdcage, and Brockmire, premiering in 2017 on IFC — gave the commencement speech at his alma mater Tufts University. In the hilarious speech, Azaria discusses how he got through college, recounts his early career struggles, and offers up life advice via fan favorite Simpsons characters like Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy.


5. X-Men: The Animated Series Gets Honest

Screen Junkies are back this week with another round of Honest Trailers. This entry focuses on the cartoon mutants that comprise X-Men: The Animated Series — an ultra-’90s Marvel property that predates the comic book adaptation boom of the 21st Century. But looking back at the decade of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, this video finds much to mock.

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Weird Al comes to Comedy Bang! Bang! starting June 3rd at 11P on IFC.

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With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.

We recently chatted with Al about joining Scott Aukerman on the new season, his upcoming tour, favorite CB!B! characters and his future dream projects. (Hint: it might involve actors spontaneously breaking into song.)

The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?

Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.

You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?

Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.

Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?

Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]

Scott Aukerman Weird Al

Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?

Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.

The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace? 

Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.

Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?

Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”

Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?

Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.

Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?

Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.

And you were directing while performing?

Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”

Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?

Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.

Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?

Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.

Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?

Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.

You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.

Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.

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