Seduced by Dolly Parton, Nicolas Cage and Channing Tatum in Texas

Before Tom Hanks came down with it and Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert fondled all those mics during his post-game presser, one of the first cultural flashpoints alerting us to the imminent threat of COVID-19 stateside was the cancellation of SXSW, the annual music/film/tech conference and festival in Austin, Texas.

More than two years—and close to a million American deaths—later, SXSW was reborn, attracting tens of thousands of people to the rapidly-changing tech metropolis (a Meta tower is currently under construction) from March 11 to 20. And The Daily Beast was there on the ground, covering all the best film and music offerings on hand whilst artfully dodging any and all talk of NFTs, crypto, or the blockchain (with one noteworthy exception).

And so, here are our highlights of SXSW 2022.

When James Morosini was 20, he and his father had a falling-out. In order to keep in touch with a son who has blocked him on social media and won’t return his calls, his father created a fake profile of a hot girl on Facebook, friended James, and, well, catfished him. At face value, it’s a wild, upsetting story. But Morosini’s decision not just to share it with the world, but in a raucous narrative feature rather than a confessional essay or documentary, was a surprisingly brilliant one. With I Love My Dad, which Morosini wrote and directed, in addition to starring in, he found a way to find the comedy and, shockingly, the heart that pulsed beneath his father’s (played by Patton Oswalt) arguably inexcusable actions. Yes, it becomes outrageous—when the catfishing reaches the point of cybersex, Morosini stages the sequence in a way that will have you cackling, cringing, and screaming in horror all at the same—but this is an intimate story about a father and son struggling to connect, and he makes sure you never lose that thread.

I Love My Dad won the Jury Award at SXSW for Best Narrative Feature. After shrieking, laughing, and, yes, even crying my way through the film, I can see why. (Bonus: I had a great talk with Morosini about deciding to share this insane story in this way. You can read it here.)

The Lost City is a very fun movie. Don’t overthink it, sweeties! Sometimes—right now, dear god—that isn’t just enough, that is needed. By that logic, and with its fun quotient, The Lost City may well be performing a public service. It is an action-comedy-romance like they don’t make anymore. After its SXSW premiere, people were picking apart various shortcomings and gripes, as if it was meant to be a Scorsese epic. I wonder why they don’t make these movies anymore!

It is a film in which Sandra Bullock does her charming, exasperated, ultimately tender Sandra Bullock leading lady thing. Channing Tatum is her foil, in epic himbo mode as a model desperate for her validation. There are supporting turns by Brad Pitt and Daniel Radcliffe that play brilliantly on their movie-star personas, and they are having a blast. There is a wickedly hilarious supporting cast that almost runs away with the movie. Oscar Nunez and Patti Harrison both have moments that still flash in my mind a week later and I start hysterically laughing on the street. You see Channing Tatum’s butt.

At the end of the day, it’s a big Sandra Bullock comedy, nothing more and nothing less. And thank heavens for that! For exactly what it is, it is exactly what we want.

—Kevin Fallon

Do I care for the blockchain, NFTs or “audience-centric Web3 experiences?” Not so much. Would I die for Dolly Parton? Yes. And that, dear reader, is how I found myself at the ACL Live on Friday night for an event hosted by Blockchain Creative Labs, Fox Entertainment’s NFT studio, to commemorate the launch of the so-called Dollyverse—an online destination hawking a plethora of Dolly Parton NFTs. You see, I was really there to see Dolly Parton perform live in concert, something I’d never had the pleasure of doing. And dammit, it was worth it.

After a fun half-hour talk between Parton and author James Patterson about their new novel Run, Rose, Run and its companion album, moderated by none other than Connie Britton, Parton took the stage in a glittery getup, regaling the crowd with tales of the inspiration behind each song before performing flawless renditions of hits like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You.” My favorite anecdote concerned the time Parton caught her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, chatting up an attractive female bank employee while trying to secure a loan for his asphalt business. According to Parton, she sauntered over and told him to take his business to a male banker lest she be forced to kick him to the curb. The punchline? “It would be your ass and your fault.”

In addition to shows by celebrated artists, SXSW is known as the premier showcase for up-and-coming musical talent. Everyone from Katy Perry and The White Stripes to Kid Cudi and Haim were “discovered” at the fest, and this year’s edition brought a number of promising acts to this writer’s attention. Blackstarkids, a rap/indie rock trio (think: a quirkier/sunnier Odd Future) from Kansas City, Missouri, injected the most unbridled energy and enthusiasm into their live show of anyone. With songs named after Britney Spears, Frankie Muniz and the movie Juno, the pop culture-obsessed crew had everyone in the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. Chattanooga’s bbymutha won over the crowd with her confident, Foxy Brown-esque rap on the Dr. Martens stage, spitting infectious bars like, “I was in a rush I had to fuck him in his two-seat / We be on the hush, it ain’t a secret that he can’t keep.” Though more established, Mississippi garage rock trio Bass Drum of Death tore apart the SPIN magazine showcase at Stubb’s like the demented love child of Wavves and Japandroids that they are, while Scotland’s We Were Promised Jetpacks set fire to the British Music Embassy with their swirling, crescendoing rock anthems. And, last but certainly not least, it’s always a pleasure to witness Japanese Breakfast’s terribly talented frontwoman Michelle Zauner strut her stuff, replete with a lovely cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.”

Oh, and shouts to La Barbecue for the best damn BBQ I’ve had in years and Uchi, whose mouth-watering sushi is always an Austin highlight.

—Marlow Stern

Going into The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, as with most Nicolas Cage movies, I didn’t know what to expect. Would this extremely meta buddy pic be a stroke of unhinged genius, or just… unhinged? Tom Gormican’s film, in which Cage plays himself befriending a Spanish mogul who might or might not have an extremely shady backstory, is about as wild a journey as they come. (By which I mean, yes we do witness Nicolas Cage and his incredibly matched co-star Pedro Pascal zoom off for an LSD-fueled joy ride.) From its extensive Nic Cage references to the aggressively tongue-in-cheek writing, this one’s an absolute delight.

Among the most heavily hyped films to premiere at SXSW, Ti West’s X is the kind of slasher that feels increasingly rare—a skillfully-made genre piece that pays homage without feeling derivative and embraces craft without adopting an air of pretension. X, which follows a gaggle of young people onto a remote Texan farmhouse as they set about making an amateur porno, embraces the gritty and the grimy of its inspirational genres to excellent effect. Mia Goth plays dual roles so seamlessly you might not even be able to figure out at first who else she’s playing, and Kid Cudi and Brittany Snow’s comedic chemistry is unmatched. Add in Jenna Ortega, now on a horror streak between You and this year’s Scream, and you’ve got the makings of a new horror classic. My one critique: The kills could have been even wilder.

A deliciously Hitchcock-ian fish-out-of-water story, Chloe Okuno’s feature directorial debut Watcher brings It Follows star Maika Monroe back to the genre as a New Yorker named Julia, whose husband moves them overseas after a promotion at work sends him to Bucharest. As strangers incessantly comment on her beauty and a neighbor begins watching her from a nearby window, Julia feels increasingly uneasy—especially as her husband, whom she relies on to translate everything around her, seems skeptical of her fears. Monroe has been a fantastic genre player in films like It Follows and The Guest, and Watcher is no exception; the quiet paranoia and righteous frustration she brings to her character are the centerpiece of a film that is not too unique in concept but uniformly excellent in execution.

What directors could be better suited to meet this “moment” than Daniels Kwan and Scheinert, collectively known as “Daniels?” The same duo that stunned Sundance with a shockingly tender film about Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse did it again this year at SXSW with Everything Everywhere All at Once, a film whose grandiose title still feels like an understatement. Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn, a Chinese immigrant who feels disappointed with almost every aspect of how her life has turned out. Things change when she’s suddenly tasked with saving the multiverse from a dark entity that will require tapping into all her other possible “selves” to defeat. Yeoh’s performance here should receive an instant Oscar nomination—both because of the emotional complexity she’s able to bring to screen and also because of the film’s incredible fight scenes. The Daniels’ previous work has certainly used sophomoric humor as a vehicle for existential exploration, and this film feels like a virtuosic example. It’s hard to think of any other directing pair that could make a scene that stars only two talking rocks feel that meaningful.

The less you know going into Deadstream the better, so I’ll just say this: The last 20 minutes of this film about a disgraced streamer’s attempt to win back followers by staying overnight in a haunted house are worth their weight in gold for anyone who loves Sam Raimi and Evil Dead. You won’t be sorry you tuned in.

—Laura Bradley

We want to give thanks to the writer of this post for this outstanding web content

Seduced by Dolly Parton, Nicolas Cage and Channing Tatum in Texas

Cool N Spicy