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The Playlist

SXSW Review: ‘Neighbors’ Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron & Rose Byrne

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 8, 2014 11:43 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Neighbors
The last time Universal screened one of their big summer comedies at South by Southwest, it turned out to be "Bridesmaids"—a movie that not only proved to be a massive financial success (and a breakthrough for its cowriter/star Kristin Wiig) but a critical one as well, even earning an Academy Award nomination for its screenplay. So a fair amount of anticipation greeted tonight's "work-in-progress" (although look, it seems totally finished) screening of the new Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy "Neighbors." And while "Neighbors" doesn't come close to capturing "Bridesmaids'" emotional honesty, it could have a chance of one-upping that film in the box office. Simply put, "Neighbors" is one of the funniest, most visually inventive studio comedies in recent memory.

SXSW Review: 'Veronica Mars' Starring Kristen Bell

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 8, 2014 11:07 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Veronica Mars movie
The mere existence of a "Veronica Mars" movie seems downright miraculous in and of itself. This was a beloved but barely viewed cult television series that aired on the now-defunct UPN for three unceremonious seasons before being banished to the illusory land of "canceled before its time." Years after it was axed, it was resurrected via the magic of internet-based crowd funding (which is kind of bizarre, especially considering one of its producers is Joel Silver, a man responsible for "The Matrix" trilogy and "Non-Stop"). This is a movie that the fans desperately wanted, so much so that they paid for it themselves. So it is something of a relief to report that the movie version of the series, while not without its flaws, fundamentally maintains the heart and intrigue of the television series, but in a miniaturized, less nuanced form. The question is whether or not anyone who isn't a die-hard devotee of the series will care.

SXSW Review: ‘The Heart Machine’ Starring Kate Lyn Sheil & John Gallagher Jr.

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 8, 2014 9:30 PM
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  • 1 Comment
As more tools, apps, devices and iProducts emerge to ease the struggles of modern existence, the manifestations of each invention come with unforeseen consequences. And as such, as the digital age progresses, the complexities of intimacy, relationships and sex are increased. While the stigma of online dating has largely vanished, the prevalence of hook-up driven culture via apps like Blendr, Grindr and such reveal that, as technology evolves, options we didn’t even realize we wanted become available. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? New sexual possibilities could lie at the click of a button, and disconnecting anxieties will appear as the endlessly changing terrain continues to shift. And so, “The Heart Machine,” written and directed by filmmaker Zachary Wigon, explores these concepts while examining the byproduct of the distance, estrangement and alienation these applications for connection produce.

SXSW Exclusive: 'The Possibilities Are Endless' For Edwyn Collins In Clip From Documentary

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 8, 2014 1:22 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Possibilities Are Endless
You likely know Edwyn Collins as the British pop star who was part of the '80s outfit Orange Juice and rode up the charts with a solo career that included the 1994 hit single "A Girl Like You." What you may not know is how the singer came to the brink of death, nearly lost the memory of everything he accomplished, and overcame tremendous odds to find his way back to life and music. But Ed Lovelace and James Hall will share that story in the upcoming "The Possibilities Are Endless," which will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.

SXSW Review: Creepy Midnight Movie 'Honeymoon' Starring Harry Treadaway & Rose Leslie

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 8, 2014 12:09 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Honeymoon
The body-snatching subgenre of horror and science fiction is a particularly pliable one that can serve any number of purposes. This is the genre in which some kind of invading force, usually from beyond the stars, comes to Earth and starts taking over human hosts. It's a profoundly chilling thought: coworkers, loved ones, the friendly postal service person you tip every Christmas, are not who they once were. In some ways it's worse than turning into a vampire or a werewolf or a shambling undead zombie, because those all feature some level of physiological transformation. With the body snatcher subgenre, it's your unique you-ness that undergoes the mutation. With "Honeymoon," the subgenre, previously utilized to lampoon cultural movements and political parties, is placed into the intimate setting of a two-person relationship drama. It's a stroke of, if not genius, then at least insane cleverness.

SXSW Review: Jon Favreau's 'Chef' Starring Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo & More

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 7, 2014 9:40 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Jon Favreau, Chef
Ahead of the inaugural screening of Jon Favreau's latest film "Chef,” the movie is being heralded as a glorious return to the filmmaker's independent roots. Favreau, after all, wrote "Swingers," one of the more influential indies of the nineties, and reteamed with his "Swingers" co-star Vince Vaughn for a madcap mobster comedy with 2001's "Made" (a film that he directed, too). Since then, he's been swayed by the Hollywood machine, turning out a number of big budget smashes (“Iron Man”) but these films were, to many degrees, tentpole-anonymous; possessing little evidence of the voice that made him such a sensation in the first place. And while the more down-to-earth "Chef" does offer some fascinating autobiographical dimensions, the film is also an overlong, unfunny, largely insufferable bore. This doesn't feel like a homecoming; it feels like a step backwards into a generic Culver City studio zip code.

SXSW Exclusive: Music Video From Rock 'N' Road Trip Movie 'Big In Japan'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 7, 2014 1:24 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Big In Japan
The idea of "big in Japan" has become something of a music industry cliché, the dream of struggling musicians who fantasize about spontaneous success somewhere else, where they can live out the rock star dreams that aren't quite there yet at home. This concept will be seen in cinematic form at the SXSW Film Festival this year, with the premiere of John Jeffcoat's "Big In Japan," which features the real life Seattle band Tennis Pro as they seek stardom and success in Japan.

SXSW Exclusive: Call Grandpa With Clip From Thriller 'Two Step'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 7, 2014 11:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Two Step
SXSW is now underway, and there's a lot to choose from, and so to help those of you on the ground in Austin, we collected our 15 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2014 SXSW Film Festival. And one we hope you'll make some time for is director Alex R. Johnson's feature debut "Two Step."

SXSW Exclusive: Dreams Require Sacrifice In Illustrated Poster For Horror 'Starry Eyes'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 7, 2014 10:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Starry Eyes
The BBQs are being fired up, the red carpets being rolled out and the finishing touches are being put on the SXSW Film Festival which kicks off in Austin today. And over the next week or so, indie selections, world cinema, documentaries and more will screening for the cinema faithful, but it's in the Midnighters section of programming where you can really let it hang loose. The selection of scare flicks offer up a chance for some primal fun, and "Starry Eyes" is hoping to get your pulse racing.

SXSW Exclusive: Jeremy Sisto Wants To Be A Better Tennis Partner In Clip From Comedy 'Break Point'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 6, 2014 11:23 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Break Point
What does it take to be a good partner? Openness, communication, an active interest in what's important to the person you're with. It's good advice for your love life, but as Jeremy Sisto finds out in "Break Point," those tips work well on the tennis court too.

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