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Harry's Day 1 @ SXSW - drinks with Ed Norton & Tim Blake Nelson, LEAVES OF GRASS & OUTCAST!!!

SXSW (aka South By Southwest) is a sometimes cruel and unwieldy wench for those of us that would like to be everywhere so we can share with you what was happening everywhere. Take for example... Tonight, the first night of SXSW. Basically - all at once you had to choose to see KICK ASS' world premiere at the movie palace of Austin, the famed PARAMOUNT THEATER - which I can only imagine was UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLY AWE-INSPIRING... Or choose to get in line for the PREDATORS fun at the ALAMO RITZ - or head over to the ALAMO SOUTH for LEAVES OF GRASS with Tim Blake Nelson and Ed Norton in attendance. If you have super powers - you could probably make 2 of those if you had someone holding seats for you. But 3 weeks ago I agreed to have drinks with Ed & Tim prior to their screening - which basically made it impossible for me to do either of the other two EVENTS of the evening. I didn't know that at the time, but I have to say - even if I did know that, I would have made the same decision. I was there because I was told Ed Norton wanted to meet and chat with me over drinks at the Alamo's famed HIGH BALL. Shit. Drinks with Ed Norton? That's like getting in a bareknuckled brawl with William Shatner. Well, not quite that magnificent, but pretty damn epic. What was interesting about this particular set up was... I wasn't interviewing them. I think Capone has that honor. And in the morning, QUINT is doing some manner of VIDEO INTERVIEW thing with them. So you'll get that sort of coverage shortly. No, I was to drink White Russians and make conversation with an actor whose film career is as old as AINT IT COOL NEWS itself. PRIMAL FEAR opened in 1996. So did AICN. I've been writing about Ed for the entire length of this site's existence - and you hear stories. We know Ed is an incredibly passionate actor, writer, creative partner - and as such, his passion has been known to be unleashed upon those who would curb his enthusiasm... But what would he be like? Then there's TIM BLAKE NELSON. If Norton is reputed to be an intellectual, Tim has the gift for playing characters that might be described as being a tad on the simple side. The first role that leaps to my mind is his part in the Coens' blissful O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU - I can... with no effort, see in my mind's eye, Tim saying the word "TOAD" and I laugh. Absolutely lovable and funny. But Tim is no simpleton. Quite the contrary. I had invited Annette Kellerman to join us for drinks, and I purposefully sat her near Tim - as I knew they both share a fondness for their home states of OKLAHOMA. And Ed sat across from me and Yoko. Over the course of our chat, I drank 4 Spiced White Russians and we all drank and told stories, shared insights and had an overall blast. Early in the conversation, Ed brought up Criterion's new release of Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy of ROME OPEN CITY, PAISAN and GERMANY YEAR ZERO. Asking if I had seen it - which caused me to confess that I had indeed seen it - and that my job in life brings me the particular joy of getting CRITERION DISCS quite early. Ed asked what I'd gotten recently, which caused me to engross him and Tim with the greatness of JAMES MASON in BIGGER THAN LIFE - a film that peels the veneer of the 50's Suburban Household and shows the hurt and dysfunction and battles that lay behind that perfect exterior. In particular - it was a film that Mason produced, which led me to talking about AGE OF CONSENT, another James Mason production. Both of which Ed made note of... along with FIVE FINGERS. Ed then told us about how in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, in his head - he was playing the role as he imagined James Mason would've played it. Which led to us talking about the full cut of the film versus the too brief theatrical, which didn't really work. Turns out that was pressure from the studio, which in order to finance the film, forced Ridley to give up final cut. Sigh. At some point, I looked over at Tim - and just had to tell him how much I hope he gets to play THE LEADER in a feature length HULK flick or a future installment in the MARVEL universe... and the reaction from the two of these guys was priceless. There was a twinkle of something unspoken and delightful between the two of them - and Tim responded, "Well, I certainly hope I get to, but that's up to Ed here," Then Ed quickly stated, "Actually, I think Harry has more pull than me on that" - but there was a smile on his face. Will we see THE LEADER? I truly hope so. We talked every subject from the financing of independent films to 'celebrity' to pot movies to Texas Vs OU to the very limited initial release that their film is getting, starting off solely in Austin, Tx... Dallas, Tx and New York City. Something I'll speak more about in my review below. My favorite little part of our chat was regarding Terrence Malick. I asked Ed if this was his first time to Austin, and he commented that he'd been here a few times before. First, all the way back in 1996 - to visit Terrence Malick, as Ed was very nearly cast in THE THIN RED LINE, but dropped out due to some familial tragedy. But the mere mention of Malick... well, no film geek worth their salt isn't going to pursue a conversation about Malick. I've been a major part of the local film scene for the past 14 years - and I've still never met or seen the man. I shared that we apparently have seen a lot of the same films in the same theater and showing throughout my life here - but we've never met. Ed begins to tell me where Malick lives - and it really is essentially another city outside of Austin. But then Ed said that Malick speaks and sounds like Kermit The Frog. He then attempted it. But Tim took over - absolutely fucking nailing Kermit the Frog's voice. Frankly better than the guy that does it with the Muppets these days, I have to say. But in character as Malick wondering around Lake LadyBird talking with Ed about THIN RED LINE. HOLY FUCK, WHAT A GREAT BIT TO BE PRESENT FOR! The end cap on this little story is that Ed Norton came across as incredibly smart, very charismatic and kinda fucking sweet. I know that's not the impression the world has - but damn if he didn't impress me that way. And YOKO, who has a very low threshold for plastic people, folks with a chip on their shoulder and especially elitist pricks - well, she was absolutely won over by Ed. And Tim Blake Nelson. Other than a completely irrational dislike for God's Gift to College Football, Mack Brown, he seemed pretty damn great too. But I expect you'll hear more about him from Annette Kellerman in her piece - because the two of them got along like neighbors. Seriously - they were a pair of Chatty Cathys. After the chat, I had to race over to get into the LEAVES OF GRASS screening, whose line stretched outside of the Alamo Drafthouse South - and past THE HIGH BALL. That's a long line for a theater that only holds 218. Folks want to see this film and it's creatives. I have to admit. Other than seeing a single trailer at some point around TORONTO last year, I didn't know much about the film. I knew that Ed played Twin brothers - one of whom was an East Coast intellectual and the other was a small town Pot Grower and Dealer. And I got the distinct feeling that hijinks were up. LEAVES OF GRASS This is a very very very good movie. This isn't really a STONER COMEDY. To a degree, that is how it is being marketed - and there is definitely elements of that in play... but by and large this is an outstanding regional comedic drama. The tone is very similar to BURN AFTER READING. In fact - I kinda like to think of them as existing in very close universes. Each feature wonderful casts. First you have Ed Norton in two different central roles, Tim Blake Nelson as the stoner Ed's best friend. Melanie Lynskey plays Stone Ed's pregnant wife. Susan Sarandon plays the Eds' mother. Keri Russell plays a local high school English teacher that likes to go Noodlin' (the act of catching very large catfish using your own human arm as fucking bait!) The wit with which this film is written is such a relief. We truly get too few films that are as light and fun, serious and tragic, along with being literate, smart and commercially viable. This movie will delight anyone that gets to see it. In a way, I kinda feel it is a mistake to even market or sell the POT angle of the film. This film could be sold in numerous ways. First off - anyone that loves WEEDS, will lose their shit for this. It really is like the best version of that universe - but set in Oklahoma. But the best most amazing thing in the movie is THE BAD GUY - as played by RICHARD DREYFUS! I could imagine the world where there is a very viable campaign for RICHARD DREYFUS for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR for his part as a Tulsa JEW Drug Magnate... whose cover business is as one of the world's leading suppliers of Oil Drilling Machinery parts. He even has some "award" on his desk, of a Gold Drill Bit. Dreyfuss' Pug Rothbaum is hilariously awesome to watch work - and if you've ever loved a Tarantino or Coen Brother Holy Fuck out of left field character - you'll LOVE Pug Rothbaum and you'll dearly want a feature length film about PUG. The character is epic. When I read that this was Ebert's favorite film of last year's TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL - I knew I was in for a treat. I just didn't know what type of treat it was. The concept that it could ever only be seen theatrically in 3 cities. Well, I really hope that doesn't happen. So excuse me if I publish every review of this I get sent and if I update you on its releasing schedule. This film deserves better than what it is being given in terms of release. In many ways it feels like what I would imagine a Coen adaptation of a Joe R Lansdale story might kinda look like. If you get that sentence, I know you'll see this movie eventually. It really is that great. My second film of SXSW was the SXSW/FANTASTIC FEST midnighter... OUTCAST This is a pretty damn unsettlingly disturbing little picture out of Scotland & Ireland. It involves Celtic Black Magic & Witchery in modern day Edinburgh, Scotland. This film is nasty in a way that's just hard to describe. There's a reality to what is happening that just feels valid. I can imagine this shit as being the real thing. The use of strange symbols and incantations, the weird fucking audio that accompanies these rituals and spell weaving ceremonies and the fucking creature is just 7 sides of nasty. You have a Mother and her young son - who have decided to stop running and try to set up some manner of existence. Though, what their grand scheme of peace could possibly be, given the forces in pursuit... well, it is unlikely at best. To make you understand the sort of magic at play here... The people trying to track the mother & son down are trying to find them. To do this, this one fellow does this real eerie whistle, which summons a pigeon to fly to them. Then the badass with weirdo ancient looking tattoos all down his back... guts and spills the entrails of the bird on the ground. Then - whilst chanting and giving the entrails a mean stare... they kinda start to do some creepy shit that tells them they're 9 miles to the South of their prey. But there's rules. They have to dispose of their sacrifice so that it doesn't fall into their prey's hands, cuz if it does. It ain't good. There's a lot of strange nasty little things that are done like that. Things you have to do in order to be granted a vision, a power or protection. I love that. I love rules to the supernatural. It's like tubing and texture on the outside of my favorite spaceships. It's just something I love. In a way - it exists in a world adjacent to things like CURSE OF THE DEMON and DRAG ME TO HELL. But it isn't a demon summoning picture. It's just other shit that happens in a world where you most likely can summon a demon. There's a young budding romance, that's probably not the wisest thing, but it feels a bit like... a TERMINATOR movie. Imagine if John Connor was being pursued romantically in the midst of bad shit happening. But imagine it being done perfectly real feeling. That's the romance in this film. It feels honest and true. Like everything else in the movie it feels right. This isn't a film that I imagine will ever get a wide release. But damn if it shouldn't be seen. It is a peculiar and disturbing horror film. An excellent film. See it at all costs. So that was my first day of SXSW 2010. See y'all tomorrow!

Readers Talkback
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  • March 13, 2010, 5:30 a.m. CST


    by syn_flood

    I like it

  • March 13, 2010, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Ed Norton sounds like a cool guy

    by Bob Loblaw Law Blog

    I loved his little bit on "Modern Family" a bit ago as the bassist from Spandau Ballet. Hilarious stuff. I'm glad you got to hang out with him, Harry.

  • March 13, 2010, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Harry's track record....

    by dancetothebeatofthelivingdead

    Another film festival with a long, detailed description of the first day by Harry. Of course, as usual, this will be the only post from the festival by Harry

  • March 13, 2010, 9:11 a.m. CST

    "you had to choose to see KICK ASS' world premiere"

    by Hercules

    SXSW has a time portal to BNAT 1138?

  • March 13, 2010, 9:29 a.m. CST

    Thanks for the Outcast review

    by unmask

    Without any advance word or trailers we chickened out at midnight. Next midnight showing then...

  • March 13, 2010, 10:31 a.m. CST

    I need to go to one of these festival things

    by SoylentMean

    Question. Do they serve giant turkey legs and beer in giant steins? At the one festival I went to as a child they did. Also, there was jousting.

  • March 13, 2010, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Also, for Ed Norton, here's hopin' the Orioles don't suck

    by SoylentMean

    this year.

  • March 13, 2010, 11:40 a.m. CST

    by FALSEflag

    OMG, this MOVIE SUCKED with A MAD QUICKNESS. ANYone who knows anything about basic hydroponics felt cheated at the fact that every fact Norton spews is a LIE which shows he DID NOT do his homework for this one, plus NORTON is a huge hack, and anyone who works with him will probably be cursed. Look at Fincher NOW, and the way Norton totally hacked the director on American History X. Who & Why would anyone EVER work with this guy outside of his work on Primal Fear ?!? I couldn't BELIEVE that Tim Blake Nelson had ANYTHING to do with this one. Disappointing, and this one will make me DEFINITELY think twice before seeing another Tim Blake Nelson flick!!!

  • March 13, 2010, 11:42 a.m. CST

    by FALSEflag

    @ Bob Loblaw Law Blog: yeah NICE, Harry is probably fricken CURSED now! I hope you're happY!!!

  • March 13, 2010, 12:17 p.m. CST

    "Curse of the Demon" is one of my favorite films!

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    And "Drag me to Hell" was one of my best theater experiences this year. So, Harry, you've sold me on "Outcast".

  • March 13, 2010, 12:47 p.m. CST


    by The Reluctant Austinite

    Anybody that's ever been to one of these film festivals knows how overwhelming they are. You see four or five films per day, and you're running all over town to do so. For people like Harry it's even more frenetic because everyone will want to stop and chat with him and he has to fit in interviews and MC screenings and Q&As. It's madness. I'm always suprised when ANYONE has time to report on the festival during the festival. That type of reporting is done on a laptop in the theater lobby which can be very loud and dsitracting and full of people wanting to chat as well. I'm not excusing anybody, just telling it how it is.

  • March 13, 2010, 1:10 p.m. CST

    There's not MORE to this?

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    Harry, I know actors are normal people.But, seeing as how your the bossman/owner of AINTITCOOLNEWS....could you seriously not get more HULK info? I like both actors, but basically you had a few drinks and shared a chat, and left behind your journalist credentials in the bathroom! Where's the scoops? Arm-twisting?

  • March 13, 2010, 2:01 p.m. CST


    by bernard

    What's the scoop on Tarantino coming into town, accepting his award, and bailing on doing the panel at SXSW? That's the word on the street anyways...heard Eli Roth bailed out too?

  • March 13, 2010, 5:19 p.m. CST

    If the Leader ever shows up...

    by vic twenty

    as a villain in another film, I hope TBN tones it down a bit. He really seemed to be in a different movie than everybody else. It is like he watched Tim Story's FF movies and thought, "Oh THAT's how it should be done!" Well, maybe not that badly, but you get my point.

  • March 13, 2010, 6:20 p.m. CST

    Hey Harry!!

    by dingleberryjerry

    Why the fuck are you drinking 4 White Russians when you are a fucking diabetic!!! GEEZ! you deserve any future health crisis that comes your way!!!

  • March 13, 2010, 6:40 p.m. CST

    more film , less name dropping

    by akkosa

    lets hear ABOUT the festival not about Harry.

  • March 13, 2010, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Actually I'm requesting a little *more* about Harry...

    by CarmillaVonDoom how you can drink 4 White Russians having a lap band? Hope you are keeping up with your rehab big ought to do another update sometime.

  • March 13, 2010, 9:07 p.m. CST

    The Leader

    by BixbySnyder

    Hmm...The Leader Teaming up with Loki and the Red Skull, in the Avengers movie would be cool.

  • March 13, 2010, 9:07 p.m. CST

    good article

    by frank cotton

    and quite coherent

  • March 13, 2010, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Tim Blake Nelson

    by gotilk

    Wikipedia seems to know something about the Leader thing. "He plays Samuel Sterns in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, and has signed on to play his alter ego, the Leader, in the sequel." source: Hollywood reporter. But upon reading the reporter story, it's clear that the wikipedia editor assumed a lot, since it isn't mentioned as explicitly as it was in the wiki article. <br><br> Leaves of Grass almost seems like a study of himself. How it must have felt in Oklahoma, being a Brown (where he was awarded for excellence in classical studies) AND Julliard graduate as well as a grandchild of Holocaust survivors. He might have at times felt like there were two sides of himself.<br><br> I first watched him as most people did in Oh Brother. I immediately got this feeling from him, like he was hiding an intelligence behind that character that wasn't immediately obvious. I of course later found out the level of his talent and intelligence.<br><br> Everyone (well, maybe not everyone) has that one friend or acquaintance that is a complete burn-out, post-60s hippie-type.(maybe not from the era, but seemingly snatched up from it and dropped into our own) Yet when you get the guy alone you find out he has these specific interests and has somehow become a sort of expert and aficionado in those areas. It turns out he's not a simple guy after all. It's just that he's accepted his place in the world and is comfortable with what he has. His only remaining frontier, ambition or goal is within. In his mind, where he wants to fill himself with knowledge for no other reason than the love he feels for that knowledge. And then you know others, people who only acquire knowledge for what it can give to them, what station in life it can help them reach. No love for the beauty of knowing, no real love for the knowledge itself or how it can be applied to their own lives to make them happier, healthier, more giving to the world.<br><br> The rest of us, if we have any ambitions beyond the cliche' American dream goal of 2.5 children and a 3 bedroom home, a wife and a job with retirement, struggle between these two ways of looking at the world. The rest of us are stuck deciding in large and small ways, whether or not we want to fix the world that second type both absent-mindedly and sometimes purposefully broke. And how we can go about doing it if we can even find the time with all the distractions life throws our way as we try to live up to our own and others' expectations. Nelson captured this in Leaves of Grass nearly perfectly. I'm impressed far beyond expectations and I look forward to what the man does next.

  • March 14, 2010, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Hope you all shared a "party favor" in the parking lot

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Although that wouldn't be good for curbing your appetite!

  • March 15, 2010, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Now, JUMP OVER TO LatinoReview

    by idrinkyourmilkshake

    to read an even better "blurb" saying that Norton is somewhat sure he will be back as Hulk in subsequent Avengers's film.And a brief mention of his previous "issues" with marvel,etc.Come on Harry, you could've asked! Why? We all WANT Norton back! He was awesome.Can you imagine Avenger,with him and Downey Jr? And(whomever cap is), that will rock.

  • March 18, 2010, 6:20 p.m. CST

    This movie was shit...Norton aint no Keaton

    by The_Ritty

    We turned this boring (vanity project) piece of shit off halfway through. Whatever screesly money was put into this SHOULD'VE been given to make Multiplicity 2 instead. WEAK Norton, weak. Oh btw Incredible Hulk sucked too...

  • March 21, 2010, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Must have Been Cool.

    by KHjLL

  • March 21, 2010, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Must just be cool...

    by KHjLL

    To get paid and pay yourself in a sense to watch films...

  • March 21, 2010, 4:43 a.m. CST

    My FAMILY lives in OK

    by KHjLL

  • March 23, 2010, 6:50 p.m. CST

    I hear Norton is a class A prick

    by Colt19801980

    Someone I know asked him for a quick autograph, he told her to go fuck herself and walked off. And we all know the behind the scenes stories on his movies.

  • March 31, 2010, 3:37 a.m. CST

    whats goign on

    by GQtaste

    i was goind to d party and i thought about it plenty. <p> Also tomorrows my birthday. I'll be 21 yrs old. <p> Here is a new beginnning you';ll love in due time. Pick it up at ten o'clock sharp! <p> here is to the University of Buttler, may all your wishes come true.

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