Each SXSW when the music portion descends onto our beloved city, the days begin to blend together. While each one was amazing and unique, here is a quick review of what you’ve missed, and still have a chance to see.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (Beerfest, Super Troopers), this film focuses on a couple that is trying to have a baby. When it is revealed that the husband’s sperm count is too low, he is determined to do anything to fulfill his wife’s dream of having a family. While the Broken Lizard boys don’t write this (written by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow), it is full of their style of humor. There are several sequences that might have you uneasy and shaking your head at the grossness, but if you like raunchy guy-centric humor, this movie is for you.
“Dollhouse” is an Irish film directed and written by Kirsten Sheridan and focuses on five street teens that break into a house for a night of partying. It’s not long before it is revealed that there is more to the story than what it appear. The interesting thing about this film is that the actors are not trained, and this accentuates the rawness of the story. This is a good festival type movie, one that makes you form conclusions to some storylines on your own.
An Indonesian film directed and written by Gareth Huw Evans, the premise of “The Raid” is simple – a Special Forces team goes into a rundown apartment block to overpower a powerful mobster. When the tables are turned, and the SWAT team has to fight its way out, it becomes an all out action feast. This film, sadly, doesn’t have any other screenings at the festival, but it will be released soon (estimate date March 30). This is a nonstop action film. Beautifully filmed fight scenes, which was also brilliantly timed, and showed an evolution from guns, to weapons, to hand to hand combat. If you love movies like “Hanna” (the score for the”The Raid” was written by Joe Hahn and Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park) and Old Boy (similar violence), this is definitely your type of film. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a must watch for any action nerd.
This is a podcast produced by Nerdist Industries and features comedian Pete Holmes and his chosen guest for the week. The weird element emerges when Pete will ask his guest a few things that are “weird” about their personality. For example, did you know Todd Berry does not like lightening? Hearing Todd explain why this is a normal reaction, with his unmistaken voice, puts a whole new spin on fear and personality quirks.
In an age when YouTube and other social media have blurred the line privacy line, “Frankie Go Boom” asks the question, “What if a family member uploaded a very private filmed moment in your life?” This movie combines elements of comedy with heart tugging family drama. While you may not have experienced the same events as our cast, you can connect to the family dynamics portrayed. With a cast like Charlie Hunnam, Chris O’Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, and Chris Noth (like you’ve never seen him), “Frankie Go Boom” is a movie to put on your radar. It is still looking for distribution, but with such a positive word of mouth from the SXSW screenings, hopeful this will be the Cinderella story of the festival.
SXSW has been evolving since its inception 26 years ago. SXSW Comedy is not only about big time or up and coming comedians, it’s about all things comedy. Sklarbro Country is a podcast hosted by Randy and Jason Sklar centered on the sometimes-ridiculous world of sports. The beauty of this podcast is that you don’t have to be a sports nut to understand and enjoy the podcast. They don’t just make sports fun, but they make sports funny. With the same format as their recorded shows, The Sklar Brothers had a musical guest, The Sheepdogs, a baseball batting stance recreation appropriately named Batting Stance Guy, Gar Ryness, and guest Ryan Stout. Oh, but wait, there’s more; Mark Wahlberg (Dan Van Kirk) stops by to talk to Randy and Jason in person.
(Note: Sklarbro Country has many celebrity guests, voiced by other comedians, on the show. Mark Wahlberg is the most recent.)
It’s not easy performing standup when a hip-hop band is blowing the speakers out at a venue across the street, and it’s also not easy headlining when you didn’t realize you were scheduled to. Both of these potentially devastating situations where handled brilliantly by Jonah Ray. You might have heard him as one of the co-hosts of The Nerdist Podcast, but during SXSW 2012, Jonah is a performing standup. His jokes bounced from topic to topic, barely letting you breath in between laughs. During the crazy that SXSW can be, it’s nice to sit back, take a break and laugh.
If you’re familiar with the podcast The Nerdist, you know of Jonah Ray. At 2012’s SXSW, Jonah was a performing comedian, who not only had several solo sets, but was also participated in other showcases, including the podcast taping for “Who Charted” and “The Benson Interruption.”
AFM was lucky enough to talk with Ray back stage after one of his sets.
AFM: You’ve performed in Austin twice in the month of March; first with The Nerdist Podcast and now with SXSW. How did the audience differ between the two?
JR: I like Austin a lot, and The Nerdist shows were great, both the theater and the crowd. I have enjoyed my sets more during SXSW, though, because I’m performing sets without the context of The Nerdist. I love doing The Nerdist, but they are different types of shows. It’s hard to compare them, but the crowds here (Esther’s Follies) are more of a rowdier crowd, and The Nerdist fans are calmer. Everyone here is drinking and having a good time, and that’s what I like about it.
AFM: Is it distracting performing on a stage that backs up to the middle of a huge music festival where there are bands playing everywhere?
JR: It’s not as bad as a comedy show at an outdoor festival. At least here the music is just a mumble. Comedy doesn’t work well at an outdoor festival, and at Esther’s is a comedy venue so everyone is going to be better and you are in a comedy environment. The music outside is a little distracting, but it’s the same thing as clinking plates and silverware at normal comedy venue.
AFM: With the rise of social media, do you feel the line between personal and professionalism has blurred with the intimacy of Twitter and even the podcast?
JR: The fans have a familiarity with you that you don’t have with them. For so long I was just doing an output of stuff that I wrote and made, but now more people know me for hanging out with my two friends. That’s what I wanted to try to do with my standup. I wanted to have that style that I’m just hanging out with you and just your friend, and it’s been the podcast that’s made it, and that familiarity is awesome. But, when fans come up after the show, they tend to take things that we say on the show too seriously. To some extend we are still performing, and the dynamic that comes out of that performance is something people tend to forget.
You want to hear more from Jonah Ray? Return in April for more.
Written by Lisa Mejia (firstname.lastname@example.org)