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Tag: SXSW Festival (21-30 of 50)

Sam Raimi's 'Drag Me to Hell' at SXSW: Viewers, and bats, go nuts!

Dragmetohell_lOn Day 3 of Austin’s SXSW Film Festival, horror fans converged at the beautiful Paramount Theater for the midnight screening of Sam Raimi’s unfinished cut of Drag Me to Hell. Would that I went to every movie with this crowd. People came ready to love. When Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles, in orange Hawaiian shirt and lime green sneakers, wheeled out onto the stage to introduce Raimi, the audience members took to their feet at the mere mention of the Evil Dead director’s name. In between Spider-Man movies, Raimi had finally found time to return to his roots. Standing ovation. In his brief hello, Raimi came across like an endearing dork in a square black suit. He pratfalled as he walked across the stage, pretended to confuse his prepared speech with an eviction notice from the local Four Seasons Hotel, and then he got his tie purposely jumbled behind his glasses like a blindfold. "Hey, who turned out the lights?" he wondered. It was like watching your favorite uncle at Thanksgiving before he decides he ought to go nap.

As the curtains parted, a couple stray bats swooped circles up in the dimming lights and the crowd geek orgasmed. (Unlucky bats? Yucky promotional stunt?) The movie (in theaters May 29), starring Alison Lohman as a cursed bank loans officer (ha!), was funny and silly and smart and full of genuine screams that ended in happy snorts of disbelief. The delightfully gnarly death match in the parking garage between a crazy-eyed old gypsy and the delightfully cast Lohman should make one of EW’s inevitable future list of best fight scenes. IT WAS AWESOME. Standing ovation. Welcome back, Mr. Raimi.

Who out there is psyched for another Raimi horror film? Is there any way he could fail you? When will an old gypsy ever get to break typecasting and play the lead in a romantic comedy?

addCredit(“Melissa Moseley”)

'Bruno' sneak peek at SXSW: Scoop on Sacha Baron Cohen's new comedy!

Brunosashafashion_lIn the line outside the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Tex., everyone wondered if the 22-minute sneak peek at Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film Bruno would be worth it. Could the Borat provocateur get away with fleecing new crowds? Would his ultra-gay character Bruno, "the most important cable TV fashion reporter in any German-speaking country besides Germany," feel fresh and valuable and hilarious?

People, I howled. The South By Southwest festival crowd was given three tastes of what to come, in three separate scenes:

Scene 1: Bruno has adopted a baby from Africa, in the hopes that it will up his cache in Hollywood. He plans a provocative photo shoot, and needs additional rugrats as props. In his audition process, he interviews various wide-eyed Moms as to their offspring’s commitment to art. One woman promises him that her 30-pount child could lose 10 pounds in seven days if it meant she got the part. Liposuction? Fine! Yes! Bruno warns one mother that the shoot will involve her toddler dressed up as a Nazi officer pushing a wheelbarrow with a baby Jew in it straight into an oven. If it’s for art, she replies, and for a check, hooray!

Scene 2: Bruno arrives in a "ghastly s—hole called Texas." (The fellow Texans in my audience gave this  line a round of applause. What’s wrong with us?) Bruno appears on a crap daytime talk show called "Today With Richard Bey," appealing to a largely African American audience. He swans onto the stage for a segment devoted to single parents, blabbing about how his adopted African baby boy is a "dick magnet" and that he traded his iPod for the kid. The audience wanted his hide. Then a gleeful producer wheels out a gorgeous little black baby boy wearing a "Gayby" T-shirt and leather pants. Bruno declares that he’s named his son O.J. — child protective services intervenes.

addCredit(“Jeremy Kost/WireImage.com”)


Paul Rudd and Jason Segel at SXSW: I love you, buddy movies

Iloveyouman_l_2The annual SXSW Film Festival kicked off Friday night in Austin, TX with the premiere of the new buddy comedy I Love You, Man, starring snuggly everymen Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. After basking in the glow of their rapturous welcome to the Lone Star State, Rudd, Segel, and the writer/director John Hamburg sat down on Saturday to talk about some of their most beloved buddy movies.

Jason: One of my favorites was Swingers. Me and Seth Rogen were young when that came out. I was probably 17. And the notion that Jon Favreau had written that gave Seth and I a lot of inspiration. Like, if these guys are doing that, that’s what we should be doing.

John: My cousin Doug, Doug Liman, directed that. And I remember when he brought the dailies to a Passover seder. He was like, ”You got to watch these performances from these guys!” He showed us the scene at the coffee shop at the end when he thinks the girl is flirting with him. And Doug is like, ”This guy Vince Vaughn is in it and he’s amazing.” And we all watched, and it was incredible, and then we continued the seder.

Paul: That’s like so much of the seders that I went to back during that same time. It was just like that! Only my Grandfather was balancing a spoon on his nose, and he had no footage of a film to show us. [Laughter] There’s this great movie called Withnail & I.

Jason: Awww, so good!

Paul: It’s a British movie set in London in 1969, starring Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann. It’s really funny and I love their relationship. Withnail is a character and then the main character whose name is never said is I. Although, in the script, his name is Marwood, and I know that because I’ve read books on the movies. Bruce Robinson wrote and directed it and he only did three movies.


SXSW Diary: Day One and a Half

Jenslekman_lIt’s my sixth consecutive SXSW, and each time it feels twice as big as the year before. As a publicist friend and I walked down the main drag in Austin last night, he took one look around and said, "Oh my God, it’s like Mardi Gras now." And indeed, though I will not be showing my boobs for beads, there’s enough beer, BBQ and music here to keep a city five times the size of New Orleans (and a whole lot bigger than Austin) busy and boozy for days.

Wednesday used to be a sort of sleepy, ease-you-in deal to preview the long weekend, but last night nearly every venue on 6th Street was already spilling crowds onto the sidewalk. And there is music everywhere:  Lone guys with guitars strumming for no one on the curb, acoustic duets in front of the Starbucks inside the Radisson hotel, piano Radiohead covers in the lobby of the Four Seasons (where, by the way, a grizzled Lou Reed was holding court, and Moby wandered helplessly by with shopping bags, looking, no doubt, for a lone vegan snack in the Land of Beef and Brisket). At a small club called Volume, one of my favorite baby bands (though not for long, they’re signed to Pharrell’s Star Trak label on Interscope), Chester French, played to a sadly sparse crowd, but worked it well. The two recent Harvard grads ditched their usual yacht clothes for a fun sort of Dean-Martin-after-dark look (undone tuxes, messy-perfect hair) and threw long-stemmed tulips out the ladies (and a few smiling men as well), ripping through hectic versions of perfect pop nuggets "She Loves Everybody" and "Jimmy Choos" — if you haven’t heard them yet, go here now, and thank us later. 

addCredit(“Jens Lekman: Rahav Segev/Retna”)


The Lemonheads' 'It's A Shame About Ray' revisited

Lemonheads_lLast night, the Lemonheads played the first of several South By Southwest shows, performing their classic album, It’s a Shame About Ray, from start to finish. The record is being reissued this month by Rhino, 16years after its original release, and judging by the average age of those in attendance — I’d guess most were in their mid- to late-30s — the nostalgiafactor was in full effect. Even the fact that the band’s current incarnationfeatures only one original member, singer and songwriter Evan Dando,didn’t matter to this downright giddy audience.

And justifiably so. Dando was in fine form — seemingly sober, focusedand, most importantly, rehearsed. Things started a little shaky when hehad a hard time reaching the high notes on the opening song, "RockinStroll," but heading into the set, which clocked in at exactly 30minutes (the perfect length for an album, I’d argue), he hit hisstride. The title track "It’s a Shame About Ray" never sounded better,and with the sing-along that ensued for "My Drug Buddy," "Bit Part,"where the crowd handled Juliana Hatfield’s part as if on cue, and aglorious rendition of the Hair number, "Frank Mills," the nightwas a runaway success. There was some chatter among the diehards as towhether the band would play their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s"Mrs. Robinson," which was recorded to promote the video release of The Graduate (it also appeared on the soundtrack to Wayne’s World 2),then added to Ray on a later pressing. They didn’t.

Which was agood thing and it got me thinking: what is the quintessential song ofthis nearly perfect gem of a record? Is it "Rudderless," with its eerierefrain, "Hope in my past?" Is it "Alison’s Starting to Happen," whichwas a modest college radio hit? Is it my personal favorite, "Hannah & Gabi," with that killer pedal steel melody? Any Lemonheads loyalistsamong you, PopWatchers? Let’s debate like it’s 1992.

Cage Match: Broken Social Scene declares indie supremacy

Mail call! I just opened a package to find a copy of the recently-released Apostle of Hustle album smiling up at me. So while I sit here listening to National Anthem of Nowhere (love those horns on the title track!), I figured I’d post some of the conversation I had with AoH frontman Andrew Whiteman at SXSW, where I cornered the very sweaty Canadian outside Stubb’s after he’d played an emergency set. After the jump, a quick chat about subbing for the one band you wanted to see at SXSW, and Andy — who also happens to be a central figure in Toronto mega-group Broken Social Scene — weighs in on the PopWatch Cage Match for Indie Supremacy….


SXSW: Meet two Attractive and Popular guys

Aap_lI mentioned these guys in my Saturday wrap-up, but thought they deserved a little more time. America? Meet Attractive and Popular, hailing from Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs National Park, in the gorgeous state of Arkansas.

As I noted before, I decided to use the 8 p.m. slot on my final night to track down the most random band at SXSW, and I have to say these guys more than fit the bill. Aside from their eye-catching name (and hometown that’s close to my heart, which still partially resides down Hwy 270 in Mt. Ida), it was also their first South-by showcase, played on the day after their very first label-released CDs came in the mail. Money Equals Magic is out on Gold Standard Laboratories, a label partially owned by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta, and they were kicking off a night of GSL bands at Emo’s Jr. After a sweaty, glammed-up set (pictured) of their cacophonous songs, I cornered a couple band members for a quick interview. Read on to hear what playing SXSW means to a band that, while truly attractive, is still working on the popular part…

addCredit(“Attractive and Popular: Whitney Pastorek”)


SXSW: Charming the pants off Spoon's Britt Daniel

Spoon_lWhat up, PopWatchers! So happy to be back sitting on my couch in snowy NYC. Sure sign I’m home: I spotted a guy with a SXSW tote bag coming off my flight from Houston and, intending to ask him what he thought of the conference, said, "Hey, do you have a quick second?" He gave me a quick once-over and snapped, "No, I don’t," before zipping away. Ah, Yankees.

Anyway, I figure instead of unpacking, I’d bring you a couple Q&As from some of the awesome folks I ran into this weekend at SXSW. We’ll start with a man who may as well be the unofficial poster child for the festival, having played in or around it for over a decade: Spoon frontman Britt Daniel. I ran into him while walking down a back street; he was carrying what looked like takeout in a bag and wearing some very fetching khaki pants. Or were they? Read on to find out!

addCredit(“Spoon: John Shearer/WireImage.com”)


SXSW: Riverboat Gamblers, Turbonegro, and more

Turbonegro_lOne last, fond howdy, PopWatchers: I’m sitting in the Houston airport getting ready to board my flight home from a music festival that, like the month in which it lives, came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. A lamb that stood in line for a really long time and didn’t get to see any bands. A really sad, frustrated lamb. Angry, really. Angry lamb. Baaaaaah.

I wish I could wrap this up in a profound fashion, but you’re just going to have to go with what I’ve got: Some final pics on the Flickr page, some blisters on my feet, and a slight ringing in the ears. Oh, and a brief rundown of the very few, very random things I managed to see on Saturday night…


SXSW: Power Pop Past or Present?

Sloan_lI always find some inner conflict at South By Southwest. With literally hundreds of bands to choose from, do you skip shows by some of your favorite artists to catch a glimpse of the latest buzz? I, like many others, try to find a balance between old and new, and this year’s lineup certainly boasted a wealth of seasoned acts — the Stooges and Pete Townshend among the bigger names. But when I’m looking for a little blast from the past, I almost instinctively head for mid to late ’90s power pop. And the place for that was Friday at the Dirty Dog bar for the Yep Roc showcase, where acts from four corners of the world — Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the US — convened for one glorious guitar-riffic evening. The lines outside weren’t nearly as long as some of the other clubs, but the anticipation indoors was explosive.

The night started out with Robyn Hitchcock, joined by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger for an acoustic set. Short but sweet, Hitchcock ran through a stable of fan favorites, including the Soft Boys’ classic "I Wanna Destroy You." For Nelson, who has to walk with a cane due to a back injury, the mellow set was just what the doctor ordered. As for the audience, it was a nice warm-up, but no match for the next band.

addCredit(“Sloan/Cross: Shirley Halperin”)


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