An almost masochistic and perhaps futile exercise, as per usual here on the site, we stick to the mandate of picking a lottery ticket limit of five items from the plethora of choice world premieres offerings at the best little festival in Texas. Not unlike Sundance, SXSW is an equally important showcase for American indie and docu items, but there appears to be a swing for the fences curation, which means somewhere between the BBQ breaks there’ll be misfires balanced by some sturdy cinematic offerings. SXSW is welcoming back some of its favorite filmmakers, as well as some emerging talent, to world premiere their new work at this year’s festival. Below we find my top five most anticipated films for the 2018 edition:
The Breaker Upperers – Dir. Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami
The New Zealand brand of comedy imported from the likes of Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi has taken a foothold in American culture, ascending as high as the superhero world of Thor: Ragnarok. It’s refreshing to see a new generation of filmmakers following in those footsteps—two female writer/director/stars—who run a small business operation helping folks breakup with their significant other. Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, who had small but memorable roles in What We Do In The Shadows (which has a TV adaptation slated at FX, and a separate one in New Zealand), get their own turn in the spotlight with this fun romp.
Don’t Leave Home – Dir. Michael Tully
Austin-native Michael Tully went all the way to Ireland to shoot his newest film about an American artist’s obsession with a disturbing urban legend. Tully’s Ping Pong Summer, an ode to the 80s set in Ocean City, Maryland, played SXSW in 2014. His lead for the aptly titled Don’t Leave Home is Anna Margaret Hollyman who wrote/directed and starred in a charming 2018 Sundance & SXSW selected short called Maude. She was also part of the ensemble of last year’s SXSW hit Mr. Roosevelt, also shot in Austin. If Tully and his Austin crew can capture the peculiarity of Ireland with as much potency and reverence as he did Ocean City, then audiences are in for a real treat.
Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter – Dir. Jody Hill
Jody Hill and his go-to collaborator Danny McBride (they went to film school together in North Carolina) team up again, alongside Josh Brolin, for the story of legendary hunter Buck Ferguson. Brolin takes his son on an ‘epic weekend adventure’ in what’s sure to be a raucous mix of Eastbound and Down and Walking Out. Scott Rudin produced, so it’ll likely be a noteworthy best of the fest in the comedy spectrum, (along with Sundance holdover Eighth Grade). This one should appeal to cinephiles and blue-collar moviegoers alike and in the same token welcomes back the filmmaker after almost a decade after his acerbic sophomore film, Observe and Report (2009).
Support The Girls – Dir. Andrew Bujalski
Andrew Bujalski’s new film is a no-brainer for SXSW programmers who’ve ushered in the mumblecore wave from the get-go. But Bujalski showed his range with Results, a more commercial, if still offbeat dark comedy starring some bigger names. He’s back with a terrific, mostly female, cast including Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Dylan Gelula and Brooklyn Decker, who make up the staff of a ‘sports bar with curves’. Bujalski continues to experiment with structure, with the film taking place over one long, strange day. Support The Girls seems to have all the makings of a SXSW hit and was pre-bought days before the fest breaks bread.
Take Your Pills – Dir. Alison Klayman
Director Alison Klayman, whose Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, about the Chinese activist, was shortlisted for an Academy-award, is back with what’s sure to be an eye-opening documentary about young adults and their dependence on prescription drugs. With Adderall becoming the drug of choice for millennials and the even younger generation Z (?), who are put under immense pressure to succeed, the negative effects of abuse and addiction are only beginning to be revealed. One of the most topical docs of the fest may have you reevaluating what you prescribe your kids.