"The Cabin in the Woods"
rejoice! This April release penned by "Avengers" and "Serenity" scribes Joss
Whedon and his "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" collaborator Drew Goddard (who
directs) is a twisted spin on the horror movie. Press invited to the screening
were sworn to secrecy about plot specifics (although spoiler trolls have hit
the internet, so beware!), and even Whedon and Goddard coyly reminded us that
any questions dealing with details would have to be omitted from reviews. For
once, I don't mind the embargo, over half the fun of "Cabin" came from its surprises. As one of my
favorites of the festival, I recommend you ignore plot synopsis,
any detailed discussions, and yes, especially the trailer.
The infamous Tracy Letts play
received its frighteningly good screen adaptation by "The
Exorcist" director William Friedkin and the MPAA is pissed. From the "Bully"
rating controversy, the failure of SOPA/PIPA,
and the squashed appeal for lowering the rating for "Killer Joe" from NC-17, it
looks like the Motion Picture Association of America is having a rough year.
Hopefully the disturbing version "Killer Joe" that shocked audiences at SXSW
will remain intact for its early summer release. Starring Matthew
McConaughey and Emile Hirsch, this Southern Gothic yarn follows
a dysfunctional family attempting to solve their financial problems
by hiring a corrupt cop to murder a relative for the insurance money. Explicit
sexual violence and brutal beatings earned "Killer Joe" the rating, but it is
that equivalent of censorship in the film world, hurting advertising and
distribution options. There's still some time to see how it all plays out, but
for now here's McConaughey staging his comeback.
McConaughey vehicle this year also stars Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine in a
story too wacky to be true, but is based on a true story. Director Richard
Linklater followed the real-life case of Bernie, an assistant funeral director
who befriends, then murders, the meanest woman in an East Texan town. The movie
is a fun work in character study, with Jack Black picking up a twang and
singing gospel and McConaughey playing the self-righteous sheriff bent on
carrying out justice. Sadly, there's not enough of MacLaine, but the colorful
cast that makes up the town will have guessing whether they are talking about
the real Bernie or Jack Black's Bernie. Also, the trailer makes "Bernie" seem
much more campy than it is and doesn't capture the pseudo-documentary feel of
"Big Easy Express"
Last year, Billy Bob
Thornton's documentary/tribute to Willie Nelson closed South by Southwest. This
year Emmett Malloy's "Big Easy
Express" follows folk musicians Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the
Magnetic Zeros, and the Old Crow Medicine Show as they travel the Southwest the
old fashion way - on a train. Concert footage blend into midnight jam sessions
and occasional outings into the towns they visit. The traveling roadshow works
and fans in the audience are treated to live performances. However, like other
concert movies, if you have no idea who the bands are and why you should care,
you might zone out. "Big Easy Express" won the "Headliner Audience Award," but
I'd chalk that up to the bands' tour stop in Austin.
Two other headliners I had the chance to catch were 21 Jump St.and Casa de Mi
you already know how I feel about them.