SXSW in 60 Seconds

Cold winds and torrential rainfall did not dampen the spirits of attendees on the first day of SXSW in Austin, Texas. Cinematical writers traveled from near and far to cover the annual celebration and eat some barbecue. It's only my second SXSW experience, but seeing so many writers, film critics, and bloggers whose work I read and respect has inspired me to quit the business. No, no, I meant to say: it's cool seeing so many Twitterers in person.

Good Buzz: The film festival proper got underway with some serious man love, as the opening night presentation of John Hamburg's bro-mantic comedy I Love You, Man was unveiled at the historic Paramount Theater, with stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel among hundreds in attendance. Simultaneously, a slew of films began screening at other venues; William Goss said Nash Edgerton's Australian thriller The Square was unexpectedly good, I heard very good things about Eric Kutner and Adam Goldstein's snarling comedy The Snake -- presented by Patton Oswalt, who was in the house -- and I enjoyed a wild and wacky program of music videos.

Midnight Gets Crazy: To cap the evening, most of the Cinematical crew gathered for the first evening of SXSW Presents Fantastic Fest at Midnight, the international festival premiere of Ong Bak 2. The directorial debut of martial artist supreme Tony Jaa features numerous insanely awesome fight scenes and, er, elephants. Before the film rolled, new SXSW Producer Janet Pierson introduced Alamo Drafthouse impressario Tim League, dressed for some reason in a Roman toga, who kicked things off with a contest that I'm not sure I should describe in detail. (Hint: it involved beer. And men. And drinking.) A good time was had by all.