I arrived in Austin after a 3 hour drive, beautiful weather, and very little traffic. Festival operations are centered in the Austin Convention Center, a huge complex that you need a Convention Center worker to direct one around. Everywhere you looked, there were people sitting on the floor near plugs for their laptops as they enjoyed their free wireless connection offered by SXSW. The registration process was busy, crowded, and run fairly efficiently and quickly. Then, I collected my badge and big bag full of mostly print magazines, a sample of monster energy drink, and an energy bar inside a uniquely designed canvas tote.
My next stop was to the XXPress pass booth. It’s a new feature by SXSW to bump you up in line for badge holders. Unfortunately, all my movies for that day were already given away. There was another offered for the Predators sneak peek for the next 15 people in a couple of hours and there were already 5 people in line. I decided to wait, which turned out to be a good decision.
Next stop was to treat myself to a well deserved lunch before getting in line for my first movie. Most of the movie venues are a short walk from the Convention Center - The Paramount, The Hideout, and the Bob Bullock IMAX Center. The Alamo Ritz requires a Festival Shuttle.
The first movie of the day was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first in a trilogy from Swedish author Stieg Larrson Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the movie was released in Sweden a couple of years ago. In fact, a movie for the 2 other novels has already been screened in Europe. It is supposed to open in the US very soon and there is rumor an American version will be made. The story is about a journalist who was just found guilty of slander and is hired by a rich industrialist to look into a 40-year old murder of his favorite niece. Helping him is a young troubled woman who is a brilliant hacker. The subtitled feature gives you a glimpse of a part of the world not often seen in movies. This is a taut well built film that is a must see, but better yet, read the books first!
Although I cut out of the movie early and walked up a few blocks to the Paramount for Kickass, the line was around the entire block and by the time I got near the front, the seats were all gone. This is the main reason for those XXPress passes! By this time the streets were full of festival goers and 6th Street revelers. Music was pouring out, energy bars were being passed out on the streets, club barkers were enticing folks to come in, and at some point the area was closed off for a block party. The line for Predators was already forming. But with my XXPress pass, I only needed to show up 30 minutes before…but it’s more like 60 and I was put near the front of the line with the other pass holders. Of course, we waited until about 10 pm to get in the theater which was already half full. Robert Rodriguez introduced 2 trailers that are coming out in a couple of months. Rodriguez is producing the feature directed by Nimrod Antel from a script that he redid in the 90’s when the studio’s wanted a sequel to Arnold’s Predator. It involved Arnold going to their safari planet as the only human to defeat a Predator. This time around, Adrian Brody brings a group of killers unknown to each other to be hunted and they meet Lawrence Fishburn - a survivor in the safari planet jungle. We only got to see some of the artistic renderings of what the predators may look like in the film along with some predator canines. The guy in charge of fabricating the Predators brought in a fully-featured Predator head with moveable manacles. Upon leaving, everyone was given a t-shirt with the Predator light lasers printed on the shirt, a little flashlight in the 3 pointed symbol, and a poster with the new art of Predators.