SXSW 2012: Twitch Kicks Off The Fest With Our 15 Top Picks

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

It's SXSW time and Austin is filling up with film nuts as we speak (heh, what's new?). We've spent the last three days previewing the programs to either clarify or really complicate your scheduling. Part one took a look at Narrative & Docu Competition & Spotlight sections. Part two gave you a peek at the Headliners, Fest Faves, and Special Events categories. And yesterday's third part focused on the fest's Midnight, Emerging Visions, and 24 Beats Per Second programs.

With the fest kicking off tomorrow, today we'll raise the curtain with a look at each of the most anticipated flicks from a few of the Twitch writers on the ground. Enjoy and don't forget to follow the team on Twitter: @TwitchFilm | @RylandAldrich | @peteramartin | @scottEweinberg | @jtjarzemsky

Peter Martin


This will be my fifth year covering SXSW for Twitch. As a consequence of being a freelance writer, my attention is always divided between watching movies and writing about them, and that pleasant divide is highlighted to an even greater extent during a festival, when time is always short and sleep is fleeting. But if I've learned anything, it's to remain open to new experiences. Here are five picks that I hope will be eye-opening -- especially since most screen at Midnight!


THE TALL MAN
When Pascal Laugier's last film, MARTYRS, played at Fantastic Fest, the Twitch team was divided between loving and hating it -- and I absolutely hated it! Which is why, of course, I have to see his new film, because anyone who can provoke that kind of deep, shuddering response is obviously a very talented filmmaker.


MODUS ANOMALI
What can Joko Anwar do with a horror thriller about two children lost in the woods? In view of his two previous films -- KALA and THE FORBIDDEN DOOR -- I'm hoping for something jolting and unexpected that goes way beyond a premise that sounds deceptively simple.


[REC]3 GENESIS
I know -- a three-quel! (With one more to come!) Where's the surprise in that? But Paco Plaza is flying solo as director this time out, and, as a long-time advocate for the abolition of wedding receptions, the premise delights me. Zombies eating your least-loved family members? I'm there!


THALE
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a Norwegian fairy tale creature comes to life ... So, yes, we've all seen TROLLHUNTER, but we haven't seen a mythical creature who looks like a naked woman -- with a tail! The trailer sold me on this one.


DAYLIGHT SAVINGS
Dave Boyle's follow-up to SURROGATE VALENTINE again features Goh Nakamura playing a version of himself, an itinerant musician ... and, I'm cheating, because it's one of the few titles I've seen in advance. My review will explain why this is another charming, low-key slice of life from the director of BIG DREAMS, LITTLE TOKYO and WHITE ON RICE.

John Jarzemsky


Hello everyone! John Jarzemsky here: first-timer at Twitch, long-time movie buff. I've been an Austin resident off and on for the past seven years, and every March the magical time known as SXSW takes its toll on me. By the end, I'm exhausted, hung over, malnourished, and I've had my mind blown almost every night, so it all evens out in the end. Here are my most anticipated flicks of SXSW 2012:


SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
I had never heard of Detroit folk singer Rodriguez until early news about Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man began to trickle out of Sundance. The mononymous artist toiled in obscurity for years in the United States before (allegedly) self-immolating onstage, much to the despair of a rabid South African fan base he was never aware of. This documentary about Rodriguez' somewhat enigmatic life and legacy reportedly brought the house down at Park City this year, and comes to us courtesy of producer Simon Chinn, of Man on Wire and Project Nim fame.


V/H/S
I'm a sucker for horror, and when done right, the found footage angle can work wonders for a film's scare-factor. V/H/S, about a burglary gone horribly wrong, throws an interesting wrench into the works, with multiple directors handling the increasingly bizarre and disturbing footage uncovered by the protagonists, and the ensemble team of filmmakers behind this title certainly has the track record to deliver the goods.


THE RAID: REDEMPTION
This one is on my list for only two reasons: 1)every critic I trust has nothing but incredible things to say about it and 2)I might kill for the chance to see Iko Uwais back in action after viewing the incredible Merentau at Fantastic Fest in 2009. If The Raid is even half as brutally kick-ass as Gareth Evans first Silat extravaganza, I will be able to consider SXSW 2012 a rousing success.


JEFF
This might not be surprising, but in addition to horror, serial killers also fascinate me. Once I got word that the infamous Jeffery Dahmer was the subject of a new documentary that was slated to premiere at SXSW, I made sure to mark it in red on my program.


THE DO-DECA PENTATHALON
I was first introduced to the Duplass Brothers when I saw The Puffy Chair back at the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado, and since then I've been delighted to watch their voices develop. Their latest flick, like most of their best work, involves insane people doing insane things to each other: in this case its two brothers who battle each other in their own DIY Olympics at a family reunion. Sign me up.

Ryland Aldrich


Only on the ground for a few short days but super excited to experience my first SXSW after loving my time in Austin at the last couple Fantastic Fests. Other than the karaoke, here are the films I'm most excited about:


THE AGRESSION SCALE
I'm pretty damned excited for Steven C. Miller's hitmen ripoff actioner. A great cast that includesTwin Peaks alums Ray Wise and Dana Ashbrook will make this extra fun. And the fact I'll be watching it in the Alamo Drafthouse... well that's just the whipped cream on the milkshake.


BLACK POND
I'm hearing very good things about this semi-sureal, docu-esque true drama about an English family accused of murdering a strange dinner guest. This little film in the Emerging Visions section might just end up being the breakout of the fest.


THE BABYMAKERS
Broken Lizard. Broken Lizard. Sperm bank robbery? I'm laughing already. Oh and those recent Olivia Munn photos online... yeah, those don't hurt either.


LOS CHIDOS
I'm more than a little interested to see what a Mexican satirical drama addressing issues of class and directed by one of the founders of The Mars Volta is all about. This could go pretty much anywhere.


21 JUMP STREET
I'll already have fled town when this big budget flick debuts on Monday night, but from what I am hearing, it's gonna be a touch week's wait until this hilarious sounding remake opens wide next Friday.

See ya'll in Austin!

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