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Playmaker 10: Most Anticipated SXSW Screenings

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The countdown is on.

SXSW is almost here and our schedules are full here at Playmaker Magazine with screenings, concerts, parties, and panels. Here we’ll countdown the top 10 screenings that we’re looking forward to attending. No line would be long enough to keep us away from these films.

(Note: Check out our Top 10 Documentaries and Short Films list as this list will concentrate on the narrative screenings at SXSW)

Honorable Mention:

Gayby – Jenn asks her gay best friend Matt to help her with having a baby, but not by donating sperm, by having sex.
Funeral Kings – Alter boys at a Catholic middle school skip school when they help with funerals. Wanting to live like adults, they cause trouble until one day they go too far.
Safety Not Guaranteed – Three Seattle magazine employees find a supermarket clerk who claims to have figure out time travel. Starring Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec), Mark Duplass (The League), and Jake Johnson (New Girl).
Somebody Up There Likes Me –  Nick Offerman (Parks & Rec) is involved. Need I say more?
Sleepwalk with Me – Comedian Mike Birbiglia writes, directs, and stars in a comedy based on his life which include his sleepwalking disorder that has caused dangerous and hilarious accidents.

10. The Babymakers

This raunchy comedy starring Olivia Munn (The Daily Show, Attack of the Show) and Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl, Parks & Rec) is about a married couple trying to get pregnant. The couple find out that Schneider’s current sperm is inadequate, but he used to donate to a sperm bank that holds the key to them having a child that will truly be his. But the bank won’t give it to them. With the help of some friends, Schneider organizes a heist with his future child and possibly his marriage on the line.

This film is being done by the Broken Lizard team that brought us classics like Super Troopers and Beerfest. I’m all in on just about everything Paul Schneider does. He’s great at playing complicated characters with a lot of range as he’s shown in Parks and Rec, Lars and the Real Girl, Away We Go, and even Water for Elephants.

For some reason the trailers for this movie have disappeared online even though I watched a red band trailer for The Babymakers when the screening was first announced. The film makers could be making some last minute changes to the pictures before it’s shown at SXSW.

9. Booster

The trailer says it all. This movie looks incredibly compelling. Simon, whose brother is arrested and charged with armed robbery, is forced to rob several spots in the same area and in the same manner as his brother in order to create a reasonable doubt in the courts that his brother was behind the robberies that he’s charged with.

The legendary Seymour Cassel plays a supporting role, but most of the main cast is making their debut in this move. Matt Ruskin previously directed The Hip Hop Project documentary, but this is his first narrative which he also wrote.

8. Cabin in the Woods

The directorial debut of Drew Goddard is one of the most anticipated premiere’s at SXSW this year because, among other things, Joss Whedon is the producer and co-writer. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is the featured player in the central cast, but Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Studio 60) is also listed among the supporting characters that doesn’t appear in the trailer.

Because MGM went bankrupt, this movie has been sitting in the closet for more than two years and finally Lions Gate Entertainment picked it up for distribution. The best way to rile up Whedon fans into a frenzy is to make them wait for a movie like this one. Looks like it’s going to pay off.

7. Casa de mi Padre

Another big special event at SXSW this year is the premiere of Casa de mi Padre, a Spanish western movie loaded with action that feels like a Robert Rodriguez movie… that just happens to star Will Ferrell.

Ferrell plays Mexican rancher determined to save the family ranch that his father passed down to him. Loaded with debt, his brother and his new fiance appear to be the saviors with their newfound wealth. But Ferrell falls for his brother’s fiance, his brother finds out he doesn’t have the money to save the ranch, and the family finds itself at war with a Mexican drug lord.

The over the top serious tone of the film is what will carry this picture. But can it maintain the humor for 90 minutes and keep us interested? I like the fact that there’s going to be a lot of action in the movie to maintain the tone of a serious novella. I’m also looking forward to American audiences enjoying Gabriel Garcia Bernal.

6. Francine

Following her Academy Award-winning performance in The Fighter, Melissa Leo has been turning in some stellar performances like those in Kevin Smith’s Red State and the Emmy award-winning Mildred Pierce. Now she brings another independent film to Austin at SXSW in the form of Francine, a movie about a middle-aged women fresh out of prison looking to work her way back into the world as she attempts to push through her own reluctance to find her place among the unfamiliar.

Francine is co-directed and co-written by Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky, a young team who’s previous documentary work has been shown at SXSW and other festivals. This is their first narrative.

5. Girls

Lena Dunham, the highly-touted creator of the independent smash Tiny Furniture, is bringing her skills to HBO with the new series Girls. The show’s brilliance is in it’s simplicity. A girls and her friends in their 20’s have fun and make jokes as they try to find themselves, make money, and deal with relationships in New York City.

4. Iron Sky

Excuse me while we indulge ourselves in some awesomeness.

In the near future the United States, on a mission to the moon, discovers a NAZI moon base that has been there for 70 years plotting their glorious destruction-filled domination of Earth to finish the job they started during World War II.

Yeah. Futuristic NAZI’s. As a World War II nerd and lover of just about any action, adventure, or horror movie involving NAZI’s (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Inglorious Basterds, Dead Snow), I can’t wait to see this movie.

As you can tell from the trailer, the movie is quite self aware and won’t be taking itself too seriously, which will likely be the key to it’s success.

3. Nature Calls

Patton Oswalt has spent more than a decade as a successful stand up comedian, but his acting chops make any movie he’s in a legitimate must-see as is the case with Nature Calls which stars Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville (Jackass).

The two play brothers Randy (Oswalt) and Kirk (Knoxville) Stevens. Randy is an assistant Boy Scout master and Kirk is a business-minded family man. The two are polar opposites. One night, Randy steals some kids away from a sleepover at Kirk’s house the promise of an adventure in the wilderness. Hilarity ensues as Kirk leads the chase to catch Randy and a bunch of kids who, at first, have no business out in the wilderness.

Rob Riggle (The Daily Show, The Hangover), Darrell Hammond (SNL), Maura Tierney (ER, Liar Liar) and the late Patrice O’Neal also co-star.

2. Renga

Remember the “Chose Your Own Adventure” books? Ok, maybe you’re a little young for that. Well, many video games are designed today so that the player is in complete control of the action. Everything they do and everything they choose to say affects what happens next in the game. You’re completely invested as a player as you spend hours upon hours trying to accomplish small tasks, deal with the right people, and reach the end successfully.

Renga answers the question, “What if we tried this with a movie audience?” It gives the audience the chance to participate in the film by using lazer pointers to control what happens next. It’s an interesting experiment that we’d love to see play out in person.

1. The Raid: Redemption

The mission was to take down criminals, but the new goal is to get out alive. Rama leads a special forces team into a run down apartment building where they’ve found the seediest of criminal hideouts. But their cover is blown and now they have to finish their mission with a target on their backs. The action genre doesn’t often make a big showing at SXSW, but The Raid: Redemption could be one of the best films at the festival… period.

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About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Texas Longhorns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.