Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in Trainwreck
If Sundance is where the best indies debut, and Toronto is the go-to destination for Oscar hopeful, then the South by Southwest film festival is simply the place where anything goes. Big-budget studio comedies premiere next door to micro-budgeted documentaries, and then there’s everything in between. Here are 13 of the buzziest flicks set to premiere at SXSW, which kicks off Friday in Austin.
Brand: A Second Coming
What in the world has Russell Brand been up to? We haven’t seen much from the eccentric actor since 2012’s Rock of Ages. Dig! director Ondi Timoner followed Brand around the globe to document his recent veer into the political and activist realm with this documentary, which “opens” the festival Friday night.
Judd Apatow has built a 21st century comedy empire, but this film — which will be shown as a work in progress — is only the fifth he’s directed. Comic/television sensation Amy Schumer gets her first starring role as the titular anti-relationship ‘wreck who finally meets a guy (Bill Hader) she genuinely likes. NBA star LeBron James co-stars as Hader’s best bro.
Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine
In between scripted takes starring Ashton Kuther (2013’s Jobs) and Michael Fassbender (October’s Steve Jobs) we get this non-fiction portrayal of Apple’s late digital revolutionary. It should be good product, considering it comes from documentary machine Alex Gibney, currently making waves for his Scientology exposé, Going Clear.
We’ll get a peek at how well two of the new Star Wars cast members mesh on screen in 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland’s directorial debut. Domnhall Gleeson is a programmer dispatched to the mountain home of a reclusive scientist (Oscar Isaac) who may have perfected artificial intelligence in the (sexy) form of a female bot (Alicia Vikander). As you could probably guess, not everything pans out so well.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
The tittle says it all: 1989’s Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, a shot-by-shot remake filmed over seven years by Mississippi pals Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos, has earned its rightful place in movie fan lore. This documentary not only tells their amazing story, but brings them back together to film the one scene they never captured.
Melissa McCarthy reteams with her Bridesmaids and Heat director Paul Feig as a CIA desk clerk thrust into action when the top agent (Jude Law) is clipped. Fellows Bridesmaids alum Rose Byrne is expectedly funny as a foul-mouthed villainess, but the most surprising laughs come from tough guy Jason Statham in his first true comedy role.
Manson Family Vacation
Unlike his brother Mark, and with the exception of TV work on Transparent and The Mindy Project, Jay Duplass has stayed mostly behind the camera as a writer-director. This indie drama marks his movie lead debut; he are Linas Phillips are estranged, nothing-alike brothers whose reunion takes them on a tour of the Manson family murders.
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
The 25-year-old once branded “The Ugliest Woman in the World” in a highly trafficked YouTube video fought back — and fought back hard. Velasquez, who suffers from a rare congenital disease, has since become one of the main faces in the national fight against bullying. This inspiring doc brings her story to the big screen.
All Things Must Pass
Actor Colin Hanks directed this long-in-the-works documentary about the rise and fall of celebrated music chain Tower Records. This one should appeal to not only music heads, but anyone interested in watching the inner-workings of a mom-and-pop store explode into an international retail heavyweight.
It doesn’t have the star power of Universal’s other debut, Trainwreck, but it already has the track record: the trailer for this cyber-thriller, about a killer seeking revenge after an Internet-shaming video leads to a teen suicide, has already racked up over 5 million views on YouTube. It’s I Know What You Did Last Summer for the social-media generation.
But I’m a Cheerleader director Jamie Babbit reunites with leading ladies Natasha Lyonne and Clea Duvall — plus adds laughs from Aubrey Plaza, Judy Greer, Fred Armisen, Ron Livingston, and Molly Shannon — for a comedy about sisters working as maids at a motel in central California. Think Sunshine Cleaning without the murder.
This Kickstarter-fund doc focuses on Colorado’s cannabis culture in the month’s following its legalization at the onset of 2014. The chief focal point is Ricardo Baca, a journalist who made his own headlines (and turned up on The Colbert Report) when he was hired by the Denver Post as the mainstream media’s very first “marijuana editor.”
In another one of the fest’s splashy big-studio comedy premieres, Will Ferrell plays a white collar crook who enlists the services of a car-wash attendant (Kevin Hart), who he just assumes has done time (awkard…), to help him prepare for a 10-year sentence in the pen. Cornrows ensue.