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Top Movies of 2018

Well, 2018 was quite a year. While I didn’t have a hard time picking my top five favorite films of the year, what I was surprised by was the “big middle” of everything I saw this year. Of the hundreds of movies I saw between theaters, film festivals, and originals thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, my average for everything I rated was a 3.461765 stars (out of 5). And while I only had a single 5 star movie (spoiler, it’s my #1), my most common rating for the year was a 4.5 (15 films) and a 3.5 (14 films). In terms of raw scores, my #36 isn’t that far off of my #6. That’s all to say we had a lot of really good movies– mixed with a few truly greats.

Because of that (call it indulgent, IDC) I’m giving you my Top 40, just like Casey Kasem back in the day.

The Top 40- 11:
(if you skip these to get to the top ten I won’t be offended)

40. Operation FinaleOscar Isaac leads a Mossad team to take down Adolf Eichman (Ben Kingsley) are you kidding me?!? Had to see this. File under: Jews kicking ass.
39. Overlord – the corollary to #40, but a black paratrooper taking out crazy Nazi scientists doing superhuman experiments. Reminds us Nazis are the bad guys.
38. The Rachel Divide -A Netflix documentary about Rachel Dolezal, mostly in her own words, the activist who claims she is trans-racial. It’ll make you think.
37. Ready Player One – This was my 13 yr old daughter’s favorite movie of the year. It reminds us that fun Spielberg is fun.
36. Ralph Breaks the Internet – It makes the list just for the Disney princess scene and “A Place Called Slaughter Race.”
35. A Simple Favor – Heavy on style, Anna Kendrick plays up the fun angle with director Paul Feig as a mommy blogger whose new best friend disappears. There’s a fun sort of “true crime” type mystery with the comedy here.
34. Mandy – this movie feels like a relic of another time — specifically, the 80’s with definite hints of Heavy Metal — and feels like it was made under the influence of a lot of drugs as Nicholas Cage takes revenge on a crazy cult who murdered his wife.

33. BlackkKlansman – I should’ve loved this movie more, but its weird tacked-on ending sort of blew it, and only in one shot in the entire movie did it feel like this was the same Spike Lee who gave us Do the Right Thing.
32. QuincyRashida Jones gives us the most intimate look at her father, master composer Quincy Jones. A great watch on Netflix.
31. Deadpool 2 – It’s a Deadpool movie. It’s great.
30. Widows – It’s a high stakes, high concept heist movie with an amazing female cast and political intrigue. It’s great.
29. Mary Poppins Returns – I love Mary Poppins. And Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s not as immediately classic as the original, but who expected it to? Emily Blunt is still amazing. And it’s great.
28. Hereditary – This is the movie that stuck with me the longest. Still, thinking about this movie makes me want to turn on all the lights in my house. Also, an amazing acting job by Toni Collette.
27. Number 37 – A movie you probably never heard of! I caught this gem at SXSW and fell in love. A South African slum gangland take on Rear Window by a first time black female director. Yes please.
26. RBG – This was a great year for documentaries. This one on the Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg checks all my boxes.
25. Incredibles II – This sequel to one of the greatest animated movies of all time (and one of the greatest superhero movies of all time) did some really amazing things thanks to director Brad Bird,, but the ending took it down a few notches. But the fact that this ended up at 25 tells you just how competitive this year was.
24. BlindspottingDaveed Diggs and Rafael Casal‘s tale of police violence, Oakland, and hip hop was a little too pat in its ending, but was otherwise masterful. A main reason Oakland ended up on my list of “Who won 2018?”

23. Searching – We’ve now seen several of these movies where they’re told only through what we can see on the screen of a computers. Like found footage, there are good and bad, and this is a good one. John Cho and Debra Messing deliver powerful performances in a story about trying to piece together the mystery of a missing daughter through her social media footprint, intertwined with a father losing touch with his daughter in the age of screens.
22. Bad Times at the El Royale – This might’ve ended up higher on the list if it had delivered more on substance over style, but this was still pretty amazing. And that soundtrack!
21. Minding the Gap – An amazing documentary about young adults growing up as friends in a rust belt town as skate punks and how life and domestic abuse has kept them back. Fascinating and maybe a bit too real.
20. A Quiet Place – Wow. Nothing quite shocked audiences as much as this, as well as exposed the worst theater-goers in America. Shut up or the monsters win! One of several reasons why I said Emily Blunt and John Krasinski won the year of 2018.
19. Leave No Trace – Props to writer/director Debra Granik and to amazing performances by Ben Foster and breakout star Thomasin McKenzie in this heartwrenching look at a dad dealing with PTSD who lives a solitary existence off the grid in the woods with his young teen daughter. Of course, when Child Protective Services finds out. . . well, you’re not exactly allowed to do that. And drama ensues.
(18.- tie) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – There’s a debate as to whether this is a movie, as it is currently being presented by Netflix, or a tv miniseries, which was how the Coen Brothers originally pitched it. This is peak Coen in all their forms, but if this is a movie, this is where it would fall.
18. Mission Impossible: Fallout – Finally it feels like writer/director Christopher McQuarrie leveled up his directing to the level of his writing ability. The perfect summer movie, even if I liked a few other movies from the summer of ’18 a little more.
17. Annihilation – Along with Hereditary, this was the movie that stuck with me (in my nightmares). Astounding visuals and an amazing ending, and an amazing cast.
16. Avengers: Infinity War – We knew we’d get to this eventually, right? There isn’t much more to add. Bring on 2019’s conclusion and Captain Marvel.

15. Upgrade – Done on a tiny budget, this movie packs a punch of a $150 million blockbuster. Brutal, fun, and thoughtful.
14. Vice – Dear Writer/Director Adam McKay, Don’t lie– you made this movie just for me to enjoy, right? Built to my tastes? The fact this isn’t in my top 10 (it would be in any other year) says a lot about the other films on this list.
13. The Favourite – Dear Writer/Director Yourgos Lanthimos, Same Question. Also, thanks for bringing back the fish-eye lens.
12. Crazy Rich Asians – I haven’t wholeheartedly loved a romantic comedy like this in ages. Just pure fun, and its stellar cast is amazing.
11. Won’t You Be My Neighbor – The movie most likely to make me cry in 2018. This is just sheer goodness. Again, how is this not in my top 10?

The answer is because those movies in my top 10 are just so great themselves. Here you go, without any further ado:

10. Roma

Roma

“We are alone. No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.” A beautiful film by one of the best directors working today, Alfonso Cuaron. An ode to his maid, growing up in an upper-middle class house in Mexico City, this has some of the most beautiful and thoughtful cinematography of any film. The fact that it’s in black and white should also be telling. Even more importantly, the fact that Netflix is going to be in the mix for a Best Picture this year should have every movie studio quaking in their boots. If you watch this at home in your pajamas instead of in a theater, no one will think less of you, or at least I won’t. Just watch it.

9. Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud

Without a John Carney movie musical around for me to adopt this year as one of my favorites, I went with this one. Nick Offerman owns a record shop and tries to connect with his daughter who is about to leave for college through playing music together, when she falls in love with her first serious girlfriend. She writes a great song, they put it on Spotify, it gets some notice… and more. Just beautiful performances, great music, and a movie about love and family. Also, Ted Danson as a bartender.

8. Las Sandinistas!

Las Sandinistas!

Wait, what? Who? This documentary about the women behind the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua is one of my favorite documentaries of the year in a year with amazing documentaries. (This isn’t the last one in my list) I first saw this at SXSW and fell in love. You will too if you can find a way to see this.

7. Paddington 2

Paddington 2

There isn’t a better word for this film than just “charming,” or perhaps “nice” or “good.” This is comfort food you didn’t think you needed. It will heal your soul and fill you with good cheer. Also? Hugh Grant for Best Supporting Actor.

6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Dear Sony, THIS is what you should be doing with your extended Spider-Man universe instead of. . . well, Venom. Every single one of your spider-personas in the film was perfect, but especially Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales. Peter Parker means a lot to so many of us. But it’s great that there are others who can take up that mantle: Spider-Man isn’t an everyman unless literally anyone could be him, regardless of age, gender, race, or species. This new, fresh take is so important, but so so is this animation. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I can’t wait to see more. More Miles and Spider-Gwen please! And Spider-Ham and Spider-Man Noir. Ok, just all of them.

5. Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

This was another movie I adopted as a favorite ever since seeing it at SXSW. I can’t state this enough: as a father of a 13 year old girl, this is the most true depiction of what her life is like that I have ever seen. The rest of my favorites don’t seem to be getting much notice for major awards, so I’ll be pulling heavily for writer/director Bo Burnham and especially breakout star Elsie Fisher.

4. First Reformed

First Reformed

I sadly missed this at SXSW, and only recently caught up with it. I wish someone had grabbed me by the lapels sooner and made me watch it. What I dreaded as homework and maybe another stolid but off-putting performance by Ethan Hawke I instead found a complex narrative about faith, pain, moral imperatives, and a Christian view of our responsibility to take care of the earth. That REALLY checks a lot of boxes for me. “Will God forgive us?” Not if you don’t see this movie, she won’t.

3. Black Panther

Black Panther

Here it is. The big kahuna. The mothership. The single largest, most important piece of pop culture phenomenon in America for 2018. I literally de-friended a few fellow critics on Facebook because they didn’t like this movie, and when I pressed them for why, their reasons were bull$#!t and a cover for racism. If you can’t appreciate the filmmaking prowess on display here by Ryan Coogler, you have no business calling yourself a film critic.No other Marvel film has ever felt so little like it came off the assembly line. No other feels crafted quite so carefully, so deftly, with precision in every shot, in the delivery of every line. And to that, we have to give credit to this amazing cast. Michael B. Jordan is the greatest Marvel villain, and when he demands to see the Wakandan sunset, and die rather than live in chains, my heart breaks every time. “Show them who you are!” You did, Black Panther, you did.

2. Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers

This documentary came out of nowhere and astounded me. Sold to me as a story of three identical triplets adopted by different families who reunite by happenstance seemed like it would just be a fun little romp. Oh, cool! Nature vs. nurture– look at all the similarities between these boys even though they were separated at birth. And then. . . you find out what’s really going on. There’s a crazy twist that I still won’t reveal because not enough people have seen this. But once you find out, it will challenge everything you think you know about nature vs. nurture, no matter which side of the debate you are on.

1. Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You

This is the best movie of the year and the only film I gave 5 stars out of 5 to. Is it, in fact, a perfect movie? No. But, it’s so audacious in what it is trying to do that I will forgive any small problems it may have. And what this tries to do is skewer the intersection of class and race, delivering a stunning repudiation of Bay Area neoliberalism and technocracy. This is about the closest we get to Terry Gilliam, Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry doing a woke black power narrative, and it is fantastic. I heard from a lot of folks that liked this movie ok, until the ending, which they hated. To me, the ending was perfect and what made this so audacious– I, usually silent in most movie screenings, literally gasped, “What the f@$%?!!?!” As crazy as it was, it fit with the film’s themes and made me love it even more. For being that willing to reach for it — no compromises — this was my favorite of the year.

Fin.

So, that’s it. What do you think? You may have noticed some pretty big snubs in there. Some of those were intentional, some of those I never got around to see. Tell us what you loved and what you think I missed, overrated, underrated down in the comments.

And also here’s my list of the worst movies, and my Top 5 of Everything, along with “Who Won 2018?”

SXSW Movie Review: Alt-Right: Age of Rage

This is the scariest movie playing at the SXSW film festival, because it’s all 100% real.

The film opens and closes with the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 and shows key background on how we got there and its aftermath. The documentary focuses on two key figures on both sides. The first is Richard Spencer, popularizer of the term “alt-right” and recipient of everyone’s favorite Inauguration punch.

The second is Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an Antifa activist whose work over the past several years has been exposing white supremacists and organizing counter protests.

Their styles and substance could not be more different. Spencer is the more polished, smug, and comfortable in the limelight he has courted. He also immediately goes for the throat, and attacks Daryle on his looks rather than his substance. (You know, for someone who claims he is of a superior race and academic style, he sure immediately goes for the ad hominem. Just sayin.) Jenkins talks about Spencer as a symptom of a larger problem, and even tells Spencer to his face that if all he has left to say is fat jokes, then he has already won. And the coup de grace comes in the final moments of the film, as each of them is asked how divided we are as a country and what is to be done about that. No spoilers, but their answers tell you everything you need to know about each of them and their agendas.

The documentarians here have done an amazing job. It feels like they just happened to be at the right place at the right time — including on the street in Charlottesville where a right wing terrorist plowed over peaceful protesters in his car, killing one. It’s unsettling and traumatic to watch. And it should be. But this is where we are as a nation.

And when the tiki torch brigade surround protesters, starting fights with them, shooting their guns at protesters, and the police stand by and do nothing, you can see exactly what is so wrong with the system. Indeed, you see the Antifa protesters getting tear gassed and maced, including Jenkins himself, but they remain undeterred.

Meanwhile, Spencer and his team of personal security plan for how to get in and out of a black SUV motorcade as though they expect the hippies to come after them with AR-15s. It’s comical, except that it’s so sad. Spencer and his fragile white male contingent really do feel that somehow they are threatened. They feel like their right to free speech is under attack, when nothing is further from the truth.

Free speech means the government can’t shut you down or arrest you for saying something. It doesn’t mean people have to put up with your bullshit, which is exactly what the Antifa contingent repeats during the film.

And when you have a president — THEIR president — who is actively attacking the 1st Amendment by trying to prevent stories about him from being broadcast on 60 MinutesI just can’t feel sorry for Richard Spencer because he doesn’t feel welcomed on the campus of UC Berkeley.

If there’s a fault in the film, it’s that even though trying to achieve balance by presenting Spencer and his ilk in their own words and going behind the scenes of their movement, the film feels heavily slanted against white nationalists. But, is that really a vice? I mean, did you want a documentary that was sort of milquetoast on Nazis?

It’s unsettling and sticks with you. And, unfortunately, doesn’t really leave with any sort of resolution, except, perhaps for the hope that Jenkins leaves us at the end.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Alt-Right: Age of Rage premiered at SXSW on March 9. It has a final screening March 13, 8:30 pm at the Alamo Ritz, but you can check its official page for more “buzz” screenings.

SXSW Movie Review: ¡Las Sandinistas!

Get ready to cheer for badass feminist socialist revolutionaries. ¡Las Sandinistas! tells the story of the women involved in the Nicaraguan revolution and government. They were key to their success; but their work, sacrifice, and goals have largely been erased.

This celebrates them and will make you root for them.

But, Sandinistas, you say? Weren’t they. . . c-c-c-communists? Yes and no. Watch for yourself before pre-judging anything, as the women of the movement saw themselves fighting for something wholly different than what we normally think of as “communism,” even in the vein of Cuba or Venezuela. However, the film does gloss over any real critique of the regime — except for the one brought by the women themselves, who claim they had to fight “a revolution within the revolution” for equality and against the raging machismo of so many of their compatriots.

Las Sandinistas! Still 3 Dora Maria

The film is told through a series of interviews with five women, Dora Maria Téllez (pictured at right), Claudia Alonso, Sofia Montenegro, Gioconda Belli, and Daisy Zamora, and intercut with archival film, newscasts, and photos. Dora Maria becomes a sort of breakout star among them, especially given her pivotal role in the assault on the National Palace, seen as a turning point in the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. She then became the first Minister of Health, leading to the eradication of polio and massive reductions in malaria and other illnesses as health care was provided to the masses.

Prepare to come out of this film with a giant social justice crush on Dora Maria, whom one of her fellow interviewees referred to as “the smartest woman in the hemisphere.” She may be right.

But all of these women are remarkable, and today continue their fight. Despite the Sandinista government re-taking power in 2006, they now face many of the same repressive barriers they had torn down previously, including a nationwide abortion ban. They also find their contributions to the revolution and as early government leaders suppressed and forgotten, literally removed from historical records and monuments that instead celebrate current president Daniel Ortega.

While the film is a little bit long, it is simply because there is so much story here to tell. They win the revolution at around an hour in and you think, “Ok, we’re done here, right?” Instead, the second hour takes you everywhere you had no idea it would, up to and including the present where they continue to fight in the political sphere.

This is one of the best documentaries in a while, and is hopefully seen widely enough to make it into contention for next year’s Academy Awards. It’s certainly Oscar-worthy.

4.5 out of 5 stars

¡Las Sandinistas! premiered earlier today at SXSW and has two additional screenings later this week that you should not miss!

Tuesday, March 13, 4:15pm, Alamo Lamar A
Thursday, March 15, 2:45pm, Alamo Lamar A

Its official schedule is here where you can see any additional “buzz” screenings added later in the week.

SXSW Movie Review: They Live Here, Now

Jason Outenreath Still2 Photo by Martin do Nascimento

One of the best things about the SXSW film festival is how personal so many of the films shown are. They Live Here, Now is a documentary about Casa Marianella, a unique shelter for immigrants and refugees on Austin’s East Side is intimate, unique and powerful with a message that couldn’t be more timely.

Writer/Director Jason Outenreath (left), a former Peace Corps volunteer who got his film degree at the University of Texas at Austin, hopes the film spurs “people to be galvanized to action. I want people to be moved by the stories of the immigrants in the film, and to have a stake in what happens next in this narrative.” To achieve this, he uses a cinema verite style of just setting up the camera and letting people tell their stories.

This produces sometimes comic results, as people are interrupted, or other residents notice the cameras running and quickly move out of frame. But what it mostly produces is an experience that is incredibly personal and feels very much free of artifice. It never feels heavy-handed or like it’s pushing an agenda

THEY LIVE HERE NOW Still 10

Some of the residents wished to remain anonymous, and their stories are among the most powerful. An anonymous woman, whom we only see from the chest down, from Cameroon tells her story of violence both in her home and along the path to America, including being kidnapped and tortured in Mexico.

Indeed, stories of gang violence, war, and struggles of crossing the border are among the most common elements of their stories. What they don’t comment on are the politics of the situation. Indeed, a refugee from Iraq goes so far as to say he doesn’t want to talk about the politics or get into a discussion of how the US destabilized his home– he instead speaks of the kindness of everyone he’s met and how grateful he is to be here.

While I mentioned how the film is free of artifice, that isn’t exactly true. Outenreath instead employs a single actor to bring to life a fictionalized story of Nayelli, a sixteen year old Mexican girl who lost her mother on the way to the US and is searching for her father. You might feel outraged or manipulated except that her story is by no means the most fantastical and is inspired by true stories of other immigrants.

THEY LIVE HERE NOW Still 2

Because Nayeli’s story is the only one we keep coming back to in the film, it provides a thematic through-line weaving what otherwise would just be a dozen disconnected stories together, so I will forgive Outenreath his artistic license here.

What we end up with is a beautifully empathetic story that hopefully will spur people to action on the issue of immigration. Even if at the very least you can come away with a greater sense of empathy for immigrants and refugees, this film will have hit its mark.

3 out of 5 stars

They Live Here, Now had its world premiere earlier today, Sunday, March 11, at 4:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. You can catch two more screenings later this week at:

Monday, March 12, 5:45pm, Austin Film Society Cinema at the Marchesa
Wednesday, March 14, 1:30pm, Rollins Theatre at the Long Center

See its official schedule at sxsw.com for any additional “buzz” screenings added later in the week.

SXSW Movie Review: Number 37

NUMBER 37 PosterA low-level criminal, Randall (Irshaad Ally), owes money to a loan shark. His legs broken and with a ticking clock to pay back his debt, his only connection to the outside world is his window facing out over his slum neighborhood of Cape Flats, South Africa and a pair of binoculars that let him see too much of what is going on.

A series of desperate and poor decisions suck in his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman), his friend Warren (Ephraim Gordon), the local pastor, and the police as director and writer Nosipho Dumisa rachets up the tension. “Number 37 might look like a gritty, South African street gangster movie, but it’s a lot more than that… It’s about everything that could go wrong for a couple when ambition, curiosity, greed, fear and horrific bad decision-making collide,” said Dumisa.

The very obvious immediate comparison is to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but that almost does this film a disservice. Dumisa revealed that this was her sort-of love letter to Rear Window, which is one of her favorite films, but also her influences for the film were as based on David Fincher’s Se7en, as well as the more recent Green Room and Don’t Breathe– and that really feels more like the pedigree of the film despite the obvious homage to Rear Window. Hitchcock relied on a sense of voyeurism and mystery, but Number 37 straight up shows us the domestic abuse, threats, people being killed, and so on. We never wonder about the mystery, because there is none. What it does by showing us the action through Randall’s binoculars is contribute to the tension by making us feel as helpless as he does as events unfold.

Number 37 Film Still 2

The acting here is nuanced and powerful. Randall has to remain stoic despite his world collapsing around him. Meanwhile Pam is a voice of reason who is too often ignored, and they both face the consequences of their failures. She has to do so much more of the outward emoting, while Randall tries to fold everything together.

The filmmaking behind this is also spectacular, with excellent camerawork helping us feel the small, confined spaces the film takes place in. It has such a perfect sense of place by taking us into these slums, which become a metaphor for the tension of the film and feeling “trapped.” According to Dumisa, “These areas were constructed in the times of apartheid and people of different racial groups were forcibly removed from their homes to these areas, with the idea that the people in there would not be allowed to leave without permission. This was legal back then but over two decades after apartheid, these areas still exist, although nobody is “forced” to live there anymore…legally. Economically and psychologically these suburbs can often feel like a prison even now. Once you’re inside, it’s difficult to imagine the beautiful tourist Cape Town could exist.”

Dumisa also revealed she wrote the film originally in English, then working with her actors– most of whom were locals — and some translators, they translated the film into an Afrikaans dialect that is specific to the Cape Flats area she was trying to emulate.

This is a great film, especially for a first feature from a young 29-year old director. If Marvel is looking for someone to take the helm of a Shuri-centric spinoff of Black Panther, they should check out Number 37.

4 out of 5 stars

Number 37 had its premiere at SXSW March 10, 2018, and will have two additional showings:

Monday, March 12, 2:30pm, Alamo Lamar C
Wednesday, March 14, 7:30pm, Alamo Lamar C

For more information and for additional “buzz” screenings, check out their official schedule at SXSW here.

Yehudi Mercado to Launch Sci-Fu at the SXSW Block Party

On Saturday March 10, join writer and artist Yehudi Mercado at Austin Books & Comics, 5002 N Lamar Blvd, from 12-4pm, for the launch of his new all-ages graphic novel, Sci-Fu. This is a free, family-friendly event that requires no SXSW badge, with additional live music, exclusive swag—even a food truck!

Hip-Hop, sci-fi, and kung fu all hit the turntables for the mash-up mix of the year! Cartoonist/force of nature Yehudi Mercado sets his sights on 1980s Brooklyn and Wax, a young mix-master who scratches the perfect beat and accidentally summons a UFO that transports his family, best friend, and unrequited crush to the robot-dominated planet of Discopia. Now, Wax and his crew must master the intergalactic musical martial art of Sci-Fu to fight the power and save Earth. Word to your mother.

Yehudi Mercado is a Los Angeles-based writer and illustrator whose previous work includes Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon for Marvel/Disney Interactive, and Pantalones, TX and Rocket Salvage with BOOM! Studios and their Archaia imprint. He is currently storyboarding DC’s Superhero Girls animated series.

Since 1977, Austin Books & Comics has been Central Texas’ biggest, longest-running comics and pop culture retailer, helping fans discover their favorite comics. Austin Books is a multiple Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retail finalist, and was inducted into the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of” Hall of Fame.

DC Entertainment Heads to SXSW for a Pop-Up Shop and Super Hero Experience

DC Entertainment is heading to SXSW for a super hero experience running March 9-18. The DC/WBTV bunker will not only feature the House of El’s otherworldly origin story with the upcoming SYFY drama Krypton (premiering March 21), but also Gotham City’s coolest wheels, with a display of Batman’s iconic onscreen Batmobiles and Bat-cycles. DC fans can also stop by to celebrate Superman’s 80th Anniversary and to meet legendary DC comic book writers and artists Jim Lee, Frank Miller and more. There will be free Jitters coffee direct from Central City; exclusive beer tastings from Supernatural star Jensen Ackles’ local brewery, Family Business Beer Company; a special look at how the Constantine comic has been resurrected as a digital series; photo-ops with Teen Titans Go! and the original creature from Critters; exclusive merchandise; cast and producer signings with WBTV’s Black Lightning and more!

Located just a few blocks from the Austin Convention Center, the DC/WBTV SXSW Experience is located at 717 Red River Street (a pedestrian-only area between 7th and 8th Streets). An official SXSW Event, the DC Experience will be open to SXSW Credential Holders (and the public) from Noon–10:00 p.m. daily for the duration of the Festival (March 9–18). In addition to the centerpiece DC Pop-Up Shop, fans will be able to interact with the worlds of comics and Super Heroes within the dedicated space. Highlights of the Pop-Up Shop and DC Experience include the following:

  • The DC Pop-Up Shop: Measuring 40 feet by 10 feet, the high-tech DC merchandise shop features a free Jitters coffee bar by day/beer tasting station by night, but also interactive displays covering the history, art and influence of DC Heroes — from their earliest origins to the pop culture powerhouses that those Super Heroes represent today.
  • Batmobiles: The Dark Knight will also have a presence in Austin with a display of Gotham City’s coolest wheels, including three of Batman’s iconic onscreen Batmobiles and two Bat-cycles. Fans can get up close and personal with Val Kilmer’s 1995 retro winged Batman Forever ride, The Dark Knight’s Tumbler and Bruce Wayne’s latest Batmobile from Justice League, in addition to Batgirl and Robin’s tricked out supercycles from 1997’s Batman & Robin.
  • Superman’s 80th Anniversary Exclusive SXSW Book & Poster: Featuring new art by Jim Lee, this limited-edition book celebrating Superman’s 80th anniversary is only available at SXSW 2018. Comprising some of the best Superman stories, this latest edition includes new stories and custom artwork. Fans will also have the opportunity to have legendary artist and DC Publisher Jim Lee sign the book at one of his appearances during SXSW. In addition, customers of the DC Pop-Up Shop who purchase $50 or more of merchandise will receive a limited-edition poster that highlights all 1000 Action Comics covers, featuring the Man of Steel.
  • Talent Appearances & Signings: Visiting talent from both WBTV and DC Entertainment will stop by to meet fans and sign autographs. The cast from WBTV’s Black Lightning are currently schedule to attend, alongside noted DC writers and artists including DC Publisher Jim Lee (Batman: Hush), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One), Brian Michael Bendis (Action Comics #1000Man of Steel) and Dan Jurgens (The Death of Superman, Action Comics). Tickets will be available on Eventbrite starting Friday, March 2.
  • LED Megascreen & Giant Comic Panels:  On the back side of the Pop-Up Shop, facing the street, an enormous 15-by-9-foot LED screen will be running living art (motion graphics) of iconic comics and high-impact, super-powered video clips and trailers featuring DC Super Heroes from comics, film and television. Flanking either side will be a series of two dozen 7-by-4-foot flip panels featuring titan-sized reproductions of some of the most iconic comic book covers in history. There’s also behind-the-scenes looks at how comics are made and how the new animated digital series Constantine from Blue Ribbon Content and Warner Bros. Animation goes from script to screen. An amazing photo opportunity, SXSW fans can stand face-to-face with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and more as they look out from life-sized comic books, providing a wealth of social media interaction with Instagram-able moments!
  • Exclusive DC Merchandise: Available for purchase will be some of the greatest DC graphic novels and volumes of all-time, including fan-favorites and cult classics such as The Death of Superman, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, The Killing Joke, Crisis on Infinite Earths and more. Also available for purchase onsite will be a selection of exclusive DCXSXSW-themed T-shirts featuring DC’s greatest Super Heroes and more. In addition, DC fans will be able to purchase a curated selection of DC Funko Pop! Figures, including fan-favorites from the worlds of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Batman, Superman and more DC Super Heroes. Limited edition 10th anniversary collections of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s DC Universe films will also be available.
  • Batman X Superman:  The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight come together at SXSW with an epic billboard display using artwork from legendary artist (and DC Publisher) Jim Lee. Epic by day, the 60-by-12-foot mural also come alive at night with Batman’s Bat Signal and Superman’s S-Shield. Plus, fans can stand next to the monumental 16-foot statue of Superman seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Free Jitters Coffee: Any fan of WBTV’s The Flash (Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW) will be familiar with CC Jitters, the go-to coffeehouse of the extended Arrow-verse. Free coffee will be offered from Noon–6:00 p.m. daily. But when, darkness comes, this carefree coffee bar will become…
  • Oswald’s (with Free Beer!): The bar and nightclub featured on WBTV’s Gotham (Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX) is owned and operated by Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin. From 6:00–10:00 p.m. nightly, Oswald’s will be offering free beer tastings directly from local Austin brewery Family Business Beer Company, which was recently opened by Supernatural star — and local resident — Jensen Ackles!
  • Evening Performances with Laserman: On Friday and Saturday nights, the SXSWXDC Experience comes alive with the out-of-this-world performance art of Laserman! The Italian dancer and his partner will each inhabit a pair of massive 12-foot crystal spheres and engage in a choreographed laser-enhanced performance to the epic Justice League soundtrack music from Danny Elfman. Justice League will be released on DVD and Blu-ray™ on March 29, 2018.
  • Teen Titans GO! to SXSW and More: Warner Bros. Pictures’ Teen Titans GO! to the Movies will be released on July 27, 2018. But before the Teen Titans go to the movies, they’re coming to SXSW! Teen Ti-fans can capture a photo opp by joining the Jump City animated heroes in action. In addition, fans can vocally contribute to the upcoming Teen Titans GO! to the Movies by entering the “Scream Booth” and recording their best screams. These will, in turn, be used in the July release of the animated feature. Finally, if you haven’t had the chance to get up close to a Critter, now’s your chance. One of the cute and creepy alien Krites from the New Line sci-fi horror comedy franchise will be on hand to take pictures with brave fans (before they’re later eaten, of course!).
  • Interactive Sidewalks and Holograms: When fans enter the space, they’ll be surprised to learn that the ground they’re walking upon will come alive with an interactive sidewalk and holograms that activate with three-dimensional Super Hero logos from all six members of the Justice League.
  • Blue Ribbon Content:  In addition to highlighting their new digital animated series Constantine (streaming on CWSeed March 24), Warner Bros. Television Group’s digital studio Blue Ribbon Content will have its own space to highlight upcoming projects and foster creative development in the SXSW community.
  • Hours & Location: The DCXSXSW Pop-Up Shop and Experience will be open March 9–18, from 12:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. daily and can be found at 717 Red River Street, Austin, Texas.

Telltale’s Batman Gets Some More Details

Telltale Games BatmanTeased a bit ago Telltale Games has revealed some details at their SXSW panel, “Batman: Telltale Unmasked.” While specifics were scarce, the company did reveal that we should expect some more news during Summer 2016.

This is the second video game the company has done based on a DC comic property, the first being The Wolf Among Us. They also have done a few games based on The Walking Dead.

The panel did say the game would be rated “M” and would focus more on Bruce and is pulling things from the character’s 75 year history. As Bruce Wayne you’ll attempt to help Gotham using Wayne Enterprises, but like previous Telltale games not every choice will always have the best outcome for him or him as the Dark Knight. You’ll deal with what you do as Wayne as Batman as well and deal with what you do as Batman as Bruce Wayne.

While not really related, the company also said they are still working on a Marvel game which will see release in 2017.

Around the Tubes

TokyoGhostVol1TP_CvrIt was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What did you enjoy? What did you dislike?

Sound off in the comments below!

Around the Tubes

Comics Alliance – ‘Suicide Squad’ Tattoo Parlor Coming to SXSW – Would you get one?

Joe Quinones’ Interweb-Log – Batman ’89 – Some cool comic history that never was.

NewsOK – How comics are helping women in India – Very cool.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Black Canary Vol. 1

CBR – Black Jack Ketchum #3 and #4

Talking Comics – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short #2

Comics Alliance – Mockingbird #1

Comic Vine – Mockingbird #1

CBR – Mockingbird #1

Talking Comics – Tokyo Ghost Vol. 1

Comic Vine – Uncanny Avengers #7

Comic Vine – The Vision #5

Around the Tubes

It’s a new week and we’re getting closer to the end of the year. We’re thinking about what should be on our best of lists, how about you?

While you contemplate that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

KMTR – Comic Con celebrities pay pediatric patients a surprise visit – This is awesome. It’d be great for all cons to help celebrities and creators visit local hospitals to help kids.

CBR – British Comic Awards announces 2015 winners – Congrats to the winners.

Kotaku – Custom Transformers Devastation Optimus Prime Figure Imitates Art – Beautiful.

GamePolitics – SXSW online harassment summit expanded – Good to see.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – The Divine

Talking Comics – The Goddamned #1

CBR – Miss: Better Living Through Crime

ICv2 – Strike the Blood Vol. 1

CBR – Tim Ginger

CBR – Web Warriors #1

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