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SXSW: Panels and Premieres

Submitted by Commandrea on March 23, 2024 – 12:03 amNo Comment

Todd Phillips has people that ring his doorbell in the middle of the night and when he presses the speaker they yell a line from Old School. Karmic payback for one of his previous films you might ask? Phillips is being interviewed by Elvis Mitchell as part of the SXSW Film Conference series of panels and seminars. Sometimes the conversation gets animated, sometime feisty.

Phillips always makes cameos in his films, or as he explains it “I like to play the sleaziest character in my movies.”

Sure, Phillips talks about his current movies, like Hangover, Hangover 2 and Due Date but a solid chunk of the conversation deals with his early career. Mitchell knows his movies and Phillips seems eager to recall his beginnings. His first two films were documentaries. Hated (1994) chronicled the sordid performances and life of G. G. Allin, the punk rocker who threatened to off himself onstage (and eventually overdosed anyway while the film was in post). Frat House (1998) was financed by HBO but because Phillips had obtained releases through nefarious means the project was shelved. You want to see this film and according to Phillips there are bootleg copies floating around. To hear Phillips describe the shoot, they were getting such good footage of college lads getting drunk and being their bestial selves that he waited until late in the day when all the students were really drunk to have them sign the releases. As a result some families threatened to sue. Frat House played at SXSW in 1998.

On the closing weekend of SXSW the premiere of Ceremony, starring Michael Angarano and Uma Thurman, took place at the SXSW mainstay the Paramount Theatre in the Festival Favorites category. Ceremony, which with its theatrical rollout is simultaneously available on demand via internet download, unwinds in a manner similar to Rushmore or The Graduate. Angarano crashes Thurman’s wedding with the express intention of making her change her mind.

Director Max Winkler, talking to Free Press Houston in a phone interview, acknowledged that the movie hinges on “how much fun it is to watch Angarano try to get what he wants.” The film was primarily lensed at Oyster Bay on Long Island, and features a cool soundtrack that includes Ringo Starr, The Animals, and French rock and roll.

- Michael Bergeron

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