Here's a quick take of what's been released thus far.
We're currently deep down in Austin, Texas for this year's SXSW Film Festival! To celebrate the festival's kickoff, we've compiled a few trailers and clips that represent a sliver of this year's eclectic programming. Which are you most looking forward to?
Be sure to check out this year's full slate here.
Synopsis from SXSW: Barry is a dark comedy starring Bill Hader as a depressed, low-rent hitman from the Midwest. Lonely and dissatisfied in his life, he reluctantly travels to Los Angeles to execute a hit on an aspiring actor. Barry follows his “mark” into an acting class and ends up finding an accepting community in a group of eager hopefuls within the LA theater scene. Barry wants to start a new life as an actor but his criminal past won’t let him walk away—can he find a way to balance both worlds? The eight-episode series also stars Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler, Anthony Carrigan and Henry Winkler. The series was created, executive produced and written by Alec Berg and Bill Hader.
Synopsis from SXSW: When three parents discover their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena star in Blockers, the directorial debut of Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect).
The Breaker Upperers
Synopsis from SXSW: From the producers of Hunt for the Wilderpeople comes a new offbeat comedy. Fifteen years ago Mel and Jen discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical, they formed The Breaker Upperers, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now, in their late-thirties, business is booming. They’re a platonic couple who keep their cynicism alive by not getting emotionally involved with anybody else. When they run into an old victim, Mel develops a conscience. Jen’s tightens her stranglehold on Mel, but this only succeeds in driving her away. The friendship erupts when Jen discovers Mel having sex with a client. Jen, desperately unhappy, seeks out their mutual ex-boyfriend. Jen is forced to take stock of her life and win her friend back.
The Dawn Wall
Synopsis from SXSW: In January 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, California. The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks, igniting a frenzy of global media attention. But for Tommy Caldwell, The Dawn Wall was much more than just a climb. It was the culmination of a lifetime defined by overcoming obstacles. At the age of 22, the climbing prodigy was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, he lost his index finger in an accident but resolved to come back stronger. When his marriage fell apart, he escaped the pain by fixating on the extraordinary goal of free climbing The Dawn Wall. Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route. On the final attempt, with the world watching, Caldwell is faced with a moment of truth. Should he abandon his partner to fulfill his ultimate dream, or risk his own success for the sake of their friendship?
Synopsis from SXSW: Final Portrait is the story of the touching and offbeat friendship between American writer and art-lover James Lord and world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti, as seen through Lord’s eyes and revealing unique insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and sometimes the chaos of the artistic process. Based on Lord’s memoir, set in 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, Lord is asked by his friend, Giacometti, to sit for a portrait. The process, promises Giacometti, will take only a few days and so Lord agrees—ultimately wondering, "how much longer can it go on like this?"
Synopsis from SXSW: Ghost Stories stars Andy Nyman as Professor Goodman, a psychologist and skeptic, who has his rationality tested when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three terrifying hauntings. He then embarks on a mission to find rational explanations for the ghostly happenings. Paul Whitehouse (The Death of Stalin) and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) also star alongside Martin Freeman, known to audiences worldwide as Dr. Watson in Sherlock.
Synopsis from SXSW: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.
Isle of Dogs
Synopsis from SXSW: Isle of Dogs tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
The Last O.G.
Synopsis from SXSW: The Last O.G. is an American comedy television series created by Jordan Peele and John Carcieri. Morgan plays Tray, an ex-con released after a 15-year prison stint. The ex-con is shocked to see just how much the world has changed and feels like fish out of water in his old Brooklyn neighborhood. The neighborhood has undergone gentrification, and his ex-girlfriend Shay is married to a white man with whom she’s been raising the twin sons he never knew existed. With no money and no connection to his kids, Tray falls back on what he learned in prison while adjusting to society. Cedric the Entertainer plays Miniard Mullins, who heads the halfway house where Tray stays and helps him transition back to society.
Lean on Pete
Synopsis from SXSW: Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) arrives in Portland, Oregon with his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel), both of them eager for a fresh start after a series of hard knocks. They experience adventure and heartbreak in equal measure, but never lose their irrepressible hope and resiliency as they pursue their dream of finding a place they can call home. Featuring an incredible breakout turn by Charlie Plummer and memorable supporting work by indie stalwarts Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, Lean on Pete is a compassionate and heartrending look at the desire for love, family, and acceptance that drives all of us.
Meow Wolf: Origin Story
Synopsis from SXSW: A group of artists in Santa Fe, NM become a DIY collective called Meow Wolf. Their immersive, large-scale exhibitions crack open a profitable niche in the arts industry, even as their social mission is challenged by the demands of rapid success. The group’s members navigate fracture and loss for years in pursuit of their idealistic vision. When they spark the interest of George R. R. Martin and receive his support to take over an old bowling alley, Meow Wolf builds a massive exhibition with over 140 artists working at a breakneck pace. With the wild success of the House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf now faces its own internal turmoil as it begins to change the lives of creatives everywhere.
Neurotic Quest for Serendipity
Synopsis from SXSW: Kika is going through a lot. She’s a famous actress. She has millions of fans. She’s about to star in a post-apocalyptic soap opera. And she has obsessive compulsive disorder. But she can’t seem to find happiness, anywhere she looks: her career, her relationship or even her self-help book she never wrote in the first place. After a ghostwriter sends her a secret message, Kika feels there might be something to look for. Will Kika still find happiness? Will she find true love? This is a comedy about the meaning of life. Whatever that means.
On Her Shoulders
Video is no longer available: youtu.be/Ky7000fhxTQ
Synopsis from SXSW: After surviving the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaping sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS, 23-year-old Nadia Murad gave a testimony before the U.N. Security Council that was heard around the world. Nadia suddenly became the face of the Yazidis, a historically persecuted and voiceless religious minority. Despite longing for a normal life away from the spotlight, Nadia takes on the role of an activist in hopes of halting the ongoing genocide and bringing ISIS commanders to justice. Repeatedly telling her harrowing story to journalists, politicians, and diplomats, this once ordinary girl is suddenly thrust into the alien world of advocacy on a global stage. With intimate access into Nadia’s day-to-day existence and a behind-the-scenes look at the often absurd juxtapositions of international politics and aid, we follow Nadia during the peak of her advocacy campaign.
Video is no longer available: youtu.be/Ct6hXDt_yqM
Synopsis from SXSW: From the director and producers of The Seven Five comes Operation Odessa, a true crime thriller about a Russian mobster, a Miami playboy and a Cuban spy who teamed up to sell a nuclear submarine to a Colombian drug cartel. A gangster epic that hopscotches from Brooklyn to Miami and Cali to Moscow, the documentary tells the story of three friends who set out to hustle the Russian mob, the Cali cartel, and the DEA for the score of a lifetime. The tale became an international media sensation. But the truth about what really happened has remained an underworld myth… until now.
Synopsis from SXSW: After serving 20 years for the crime of essentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time, 38-year-old Chris (Jay Duplass) is granted early parole thanks largely to the tireless advocacy of Carol (Edie Falco), his former high-school teacher. As he struggles with the challenges of navigating the modern world as an ex-con, and with a fraught relationship with his brother Ted (Ben Schwartz), Chris ends up confessing his romantic love for Carol—a love that, given her marital status, Carol cannot reciprocate. Or can she? Carol longs for something her husband no longer provides. Meanwhile, Carol's daughter Hildy befriends Chris, finding a kindred spirit in this awkward, tormented older guy.
A Prayer Before Dawn
Synopsis from SXSW: Based on the international best-seller, A Prayer Before Dawn is the true story of Billy Moore, a troubled young British boxer sent to one of Thailand's most notorious jails. Refusing to die inside prison, Billy becomes a student of the lethal art of Muay Thai Boxing, and in the process, finds a brotherhood that will guide him on an incredible journey to redemption.
Synopsis from SXSW: A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They've secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon's toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest's other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father's greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.
A Quiet Place
Synopsis from SXSW: In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.
Synopsis from SXSW: After a tragic riding accident, young cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned that his competition days are over. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
Video is no longer available: youtu.be/Fk1lgi7fjwc
Synopsis from SXSW: Sadie is the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives at home with her mother while her father serves repeated tours in the military. Sadie is extremely attached to her father despite his prolonged absence, and when her mother begins dating a new man, Sadie takes extreme measures to end the relationship and safeguard her family through the only tactics she knows—those of war.
Take Your Pills
Synopsis from SXSW: Alternately characterized as an epidemic or a love affair, prescription stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Ritalin have become a $13 billion industry in America. These drugs increase dopamine and adrenaline levels, promising a dose of performance enhancement for our hyper-competitive age. Take Your Pills applies a personal lens to the rise of Adderall and drugs like it, and places individual experiences within a larger socio-economic and historical framework. By incorporating various animation styles, graphics and archival, the film raises vital questions about our society today and where we are headed.
What Keeps You Alive
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsZMwwpW6Bg
Synopsis from SXSW: Majestic mountains, a still lake, and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Synopsis from SXSW: Fred Rogers led a singular life. He was a puppeteer. A minister. A musician. An educator. A father, a husband, and a neighbor. Fred Rogers spent 50 years on children’s television beseeching us to love and to allow ourselves to be loved. With television as his pulpit, he helped transform the concept of childhood. He used puppets and play to explore the most complicated issues of the day—race, disability, equality and tragedy. He spoke directly to children and they responded by forging a lifelong bond with him—by the millions. And yet today his impact is unclear. Won't You Be My Neighbor? explores the question of whether or not we have lived up to Fred's ideal. Are we all good neighbors?
For more, see our complete coverage of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.
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