Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Movie Doc's First Day

Well, everything went according to plan surprisingly. I was able to go to my first panel at the Austin Convention Center called The Beginner's Guide to SXSW. While this is my second year participating in the fest, this is actually my first year to participate with a Film Badge. Last year I had a Film Pass which only allowed me to see movies and not participate in panels, parties, and other activities exclusive to badge holders. While a badge isn't entirely necessary to participate, it definitely does help!

The Beginner's Guide was quite informative in offering tips for how to travel from venue to venue in a timely manner, which parties are recommended, and also provided plenty of information for out of town people visiting Austin for the fest. If planning to participate in the festival for the first time next year, I highly recommend this panel.

Following this I enjoyed a scotch and a beer at the Registrant Lounge, which was chockful of people enjoying the free beverages. Badge holders are given drink cards for the lounge which will serve them up to two free drinks a day.

After this, I headed over to the Paramount to get in the very lengthy line for SOURCE CODE. This movie starrring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, and directed by Duncan Jones, offers thrills and excitement with a sci fi story that borrows a little from GROUNDHOG DAY and a little from THE MATRIX. While the story lacked originality, the action, suspense, and very likable characters held my attention well and kept well entertained. Jones, Gyllenhaal, Monaghan, Farmiga, and writer Ben Ripley were all in attendance and provided a fun Q & A following the film.

After grabbing some pizza from Sixth St (Yum!), and a couple of free beers from the SXSW Film Opening Party, I headed to the Alamo Ritz for the midnight screening of INSIDIOUS. This film, which was directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell (the duo responsible for starting the SAW series), has a unique and interesting take on haunting/possession stories. Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey, Wan and Whannell tell a ghost story that mostly relies on loud music and loud sound effects to startle audiences instead of truly messing with their heads. There are a few genuinely scary moments, but unfortunately this story, which was obviously inspired by THE EXORCIST and POLTERGEIST lacks the true horror to really frighten people. Wan and his crew seem to rely on "parlor tricks" to momentarily startle without the lasting effects that an honest to badness horror movie should have.

Mark Saldana
The Movie Doc

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