Friday, March 8, 2013 was the opening day of the festival, kicking off with the world premier of both The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Evil Dead. Since those didn't start until 7:00pm and 9:45pm respectively, I had some time to catch a panel before the films. And the only panel that wasn't "SXSW First Timers" related was titled simply, #catvidfest. Oh boy.
The large conference room was strangely packed at 3:30pm. Maybe because the informational book promised cat videos. I guess that's enough of a reason to attract festival goers, considered the panel had the barfy name of #catvidfest. Who do they think they are, will.i.am.? You can't just name shit #whatever. The world isn't Twitter. The world isn't Instagram. As soon as they started playing La Bouche's "Be My Lover" I knew that I couldn't take this seriously. And what do I do when I can't take anything seriously? I live tweet-it.
What attracted me to this panel was the description, promising a discussion of "can cat videos be art?" And as a pretentious-ass high art lover (who at this time is listening to New Orleans Sissy Bounce music), I would have loved to have been in a true discussion of art. But instead we got 60 minutes of "So, we put on a festival where we should cat videos. 10,000 people came. It's art. Maybe. It's not art."
#bethepanelyousaidyoudbe #ohmygod #idontcare #iknowisoundlikeapretentiousdouche
So we left. Maybe the movies will be better. Maybe.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Director: Don Scardino
After waiting in line for 45 minutes, we finally got in the amazing Paramount Theater for the opening film of SXSW, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. A comedy about magicians starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey should have been funny. SXSW last year opened the fest with 21 Jump Street, the surprisingly hilarious adaptation of the '80s sitcom. Maybe the festival has a knack for choosing hilarious broad comedy films as their opener. Maybe this will be just as surprisingly good. Maybe, it won't be a laughless, confusing eye-roller.
For the most part, it wasn't any of those. Which, I feel is worse. It's hard to be a good movie. It's hard to be a truly bad movie. It's lazy to be mediocre. And that's what this was. All three of the actors on auto-pilot in an auto-pilot film. You can see every scene two scenes before it, which is sad, because everyone is so funny in other projects. The reaction to 90% percent of the jokes were "meh" at best, with the exception of two scenes: a confrontation in a bar between Jim Carrey and Steve Carell and the ending montage, with the former receiving applause from the audience. The movie isn't bad. It's just so middle of the road and lifeless that it's almost kind of sad to see these performers so loved in a project so boring.
The Evil Dead
Director: Fede Alvarez
This, on the other hand, was received by the audience as SXSW as if it were Avatar being shown in 1920. Ten minutes didn't go by without rapturous applause. Fede Alvarez, director of the short film Panic Attack, handled the remake of the much-loved Sam Raimi original with love. Brutal, bloody, and unrelenting love. Tense from the opening seconds to the middle of the end credits, Evil Dead is an evil, unflinching horror movie in an age of Paranormal Activites and PG-13 namby-pamby "horror." It's as if this movie was an apology to humanity for a lack of truly bloody horror films. And while this is a remake, it's so much it's own movie it's basically a remake in name only. The director described it as a rebirth, and it's a bloody and disgusting as birth.
I watched a majority of the film through webbed fingers, and the woman next to us had a full fledged panic attack. It was a great way of getting the crappy panel and meh comedy out of my system. It was a blood letting, a spirit cleansing. And I needed to take a shower when I got home.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on Twitter @g