SXSW: ‘Spring Breakers,’ famous people and questionable apparel

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Austin, Texas — Sunday was my first official day at SXSW and it was a non-stop whirlwind of events in downtown Austin. I started the morning at the red carpet event for Jeff Nichol’s newest movie, “Mud,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon.  I met a photographer, who lived in Berkeley a few years back, from the New York Times while waiting for the talent to arrive. The script was excellent, the two young lead boys were great, and McConaughey, who plays an island recluse, showed off his great bod in the Arkansas-based film. Then I ran across town (I learned there’s a press shuttle service only after doing so) to the Long Center of Performing Arts, where the crew of JASH, a new comedy collective on YouTube, came to discuss the creative autonomy they believe comedians need to keep fighting for. On stage were Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim and Reggie Watts. Sarah Silverman talked with an even more slurred drawl than usual and kept cutting herself off, exclaiming, “Gosh, I sound way too Jewishright now.” Wareheim dropped in random, perverse lines, and Cera, wearing a fuzzy sweater, sat awkwardly and quietly, in between unexpected and confidently executed jokes.

At night, I went to the red carpet for the U.S. premiere of Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” There were hundreds of fans waiting for hours for James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson, and the director to arrive. Girls wearing light colored booty shorts with “DTF” written on them (there is a scene in the film where a very special song is sung while the girls wear similar looking pants) were everywhere, screaming on mopeds, giggling at coffee shops. It was a madhouse. Selena Gomez was stunning, wearing a bright orange, form-fitting dress. Ashley Benson wore a beautiful, long black halter dress with one strip of lace that wound around from front to back. Talking to Rachel Korine was insightful because her character in the film is the exact antithesis to the type of conservative young woman she was raised to be. Her character actually goes through the craziest things of all the girls in “Spring Breakers,” which is funny since her husband is the director.  James Franco was James Franco, whatever that means. His hands were in his pockets and just overall super casual compared to the rest of his cast. The film itself was great. I was anticipating it to be a shallow failure, but the dynamics between the characters worked and Korine captures, maybe a bit too honestly, a gritty, sexy, tragic side of American youth culture. I can’t count how many breasts, different ways to smoke weed, and times I questioned Franco’s sanity during the two hours.  There will be a full review on “Spring Breakers” in next week’s paper.

Contact Soojin Chang at [email protected].