2009 SXSW Dispatch #2

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At Cinematical, I’ve written about the footage we saw of the upcoming “Bruno” film (Sacha Baron Cohen’s followup to “Borat”), and about the screening of “Troll 2” I attended Saturday night. The latter article also explains why I won’t be covering that film in Eric’s Bad Movies — not because it’s not bad, but because its badness is so self-evident that mocking it is redundant.

At Film.com, I’ve posted two dispatches of mini-reviews — you know, of the movies I’ve been seeing here at this film festival, where people occasionally watch films. Here’s dispatch #1, and dispatch #2. (I should have chosen a word other than “dispatch,” since that’s what I’m using here on my blog. But it’s a little late for should-haves.)

Also, unrelated but I don’t have anywhere else to mention it, this week’s edition of Eric’s Time Capsule at Film.com is about “The China Syndrome,” released 30 years ago today.

And now, more anecdotes.

* * * * *

While we were standing in line for something, a man who’s here primarily for the Interactive conference asked me and my friend Melanie if there was anything we could recommend. We said we were really looking forward to “Observe and Report.”

He said, “‘To Serve and Report'”?

“No, ‘Observe and Report,'” I said.

Over the course of the conversation, he said it three more times, always “To Serve and Report,” and always followed by a correction from me that it was “Observe and Report.” He finally wrote a note on his BlackBerry of the titles we’d recommended, and I saw him type “To Observe and Report.” I guess that’s as close as he was going to get.

* * * * *

Booze flows freely in Austin, especially during SXSW, but I have seldom encountered any of its negative social effects. That is to say, most people who get drunk enough to be belligerent or nauseated have done so out of my presence. But at “I Love You, Man” on Friday night, a couple guys sitting in my row were so inebriated that they thought it was OK to speak to each other out loud during the movie. Seriously — no attempt at whispering whatsoever, just full-voice observations and remarks in that slurred, guttural speech reserved for the happily drunk.

Making it somewhat awkward was the fact that I had talked with these guys in line before the movie, and I liked them. They write for another movie blog. We had a good time chatting. I had no idea they were drunken movie talkers! If I’d known, surely I would have nipped our burgeoning friendship in the bud right then and there. “Oh, you like to drink a lot and then speak loudly in movie theaters? I’m sorry, maybe we’re not a good match,” I’d have said. I just think people should be up front about their boorishness, that’s all.

Austin’s Sixth Street is full of bars, clubs, and tattoo parlors, and is the center of weekend bacchanalia. This becomes more pronounced during SXSW, when the revelry continues until the wee hours of the morning and automobile traffic is rerouted so that people can be drunk in the street without being run over. Walking back to my hotel at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, I saw two more incidents of hilarious drunkenness, at least one of which is NOT FUNNY.

First was a very fat young woman who tripped over a curb and fell on her face. This is the one that is not funny. You should not be laughing. Her largeness made it a spectacle to begin with, and this was compounded by the fact that she was too drunk to stand up again. She had two friends with her, a girl and a guy, and they struggled in vain for over a minute to hoist her upright. (Their own inebriation may have been a factor.) They would get her halfway up, and then she’d collapse again. I’d be really embarrassed if I were her!

Then I entered the hotel lobby and noticed a college-age young man dozing on one of the couches. Then I looked closer and noticed there was vomit all over his chin and neck and on the floor beside him. The security guard approached him just as he (the vomit guy) began to retch some more. He was clearly beyond the point of caring where he was or what happened to him, the point we’ve all reached sometime in our lives, where ALL HE WANTED TO DO was throw up. I don’t know how his story ended because I went upstairs and went to bed, grateful to be deciding for myself when it was time to lie down.

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