The following is Part 2 of a five part series that chronicles Nick Allen's first endeavor into the unknown realm of SXSW 2011. Click here to read all about Nick's SXSW saga
Jeff and I woke up pretty early on our first full SXSW day for two reasons. I had to wait in line to secure “Express” passes (they put you in front of a theater line) while Jeff had to go hang out with “Jake,” as he called him (Jake Gyllenhaal, for Source Code). After waiting about an hour in line, I was able to secure two passes for Ti West’s The Innkeepers and Super, a movie in which I could not miss due to my tentative interview with director James Gunn.
To our shared disappointment, neither Jeff nor I caught a morning screening. (For years, he’ll probably bitch and moan that he didn’t get to the apparently hilarious Turkey Bowl). Instead, we decided to do something else – eat. At a bumping eatery near our parking garage, I had the best non-homemade grilled cheese of my life (garlic butter did the trick), while I accidentally got a Mexican Coke, which comes in a tall bottle and is expensive. Mowing down food during our rare break, Jeff and I still obsessed about our movie schedule, discussing what we’d be seeing even two days ahead of time. For the rest of SXSW, this was not an unusual occurrence.
The first movie that we caught was Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. The man behind the puppet, Kevin Clash made an appearance, along with his moneymaker known as Elmo. The Q&A wasn’t too great, at least by SXSW Q&A standards. If I wanted to watch grown men hug Elmo, I’d ... re-watch Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey again.
After that great documentary, I needed a tonal change. Instead of dashing over to the Alamo Ritz to catch You Instead, a movie that had an interesting plotline (that’s all I had to judge it on), I instead stuck around the same theater for Elmo and saw a movie that I only knew the title of: Fightville. It was a very good documentary about mixed martial arts fighters, and the man who tries to hold together a league that may one day lead a certain fighter to success.
From there, the day was already half over, but two radically different docs were under my belt. It felt good. And now it was time to get scared, as I walked over to the line for The Innkeepers, with little to expect. (I only knew that I had hoped it wouldn’t be like West’s previous failed retro experiment, The House of the Devil.)
You can read my review for The Innkeepers here, but here were some highlights from the actual viewing: the audience’s full reaction to West’s “internet scare” at the beginning of the movie, followed by big laughter, Eric D. Snider flying out of his chair in a couple of instances, and the general terror I still feel looking into empty bathtubs at night. Good flick!
After The Innkeepers was over, it was time to dash into the next line, and wait for Super. Once I was into the theater, I experienced something more nerve-wracking than all of The Innkeepers - saving three beautifully located seats. I threw my coat on two chairs, and had my hand over another. I hid my head in shame/terror as hordes of moviegoers wandered up and down the aisles looking for a spot they could call their own. Eventually, I was rescued from this fear by Jeff and the two others who I had been saving seats for (one of them was Capone from AintItCoolNews).
To my amusement, what seemed like the only kid in the theater happened to sit right behind Jeff. This was funny for two reasons: Jeff is very tall, and Super is extremely everything R-rated. But, eh, who cares? This future star behind us played the part of younger Rainn Wilson who gets peed on early in the movie. Talk about star sightings at SXSW!
Later on, during the Q&A for Super, a young man rose from his chair excitedly and asked the first question. He inquired to Rainn Wilson, James Gunn, and Ellen Page as what superpowers they'd like to have. The audience booed heavily while Ellen Page joked it off by saying that she'd "not be allergic to gluten." Gunn and Wilson attempted to avoid answering the question, but Janet Pierson, leader of SXSW, mentioned it again. Wilson then answered abruptly with this: "I'd want to have the power to tell the truth ... because that is a stupid f**king question!!!" As a person who fears asking ordinary questions to important people, it was a great moment.
Then, after my rambunctious enjoyment of all that is Super, it was time to call it a night. Awaiting me for my third day was my interview with James Gunn, four more movies, and more.