SXSW (South by Southwest) and "A Prairie Home Companion"

So I’m here at South by Southwest for the SXSW Interactive portion of the festival, with a splash of the film festival on the side.  So far, this conference is a lot more fun than some of the past conferences I’ve been to.  I believe in part this is due to the better mix of folks from all walks of life…techie, writer, engineer, entrepreneur, etc.  Conferences like WinHEC and IDF tend to be mostly about technical engagement, and even though there are a lot of presentations at those conferences too, it’s basically impossible to engage at a deep technical level in a presentation…all you can really hope for is to get your eyes opened if you didn’t know about the subject matter before hand.  There is, at least, a broader range of subject matter here to check out and absorb.

I came in early to catch the opening day of the film festival, and as a result managed to see the premiere of “A Prairie Home Companion“, which is a Robert Altman film.  John C. Reilly attended the premiere, which was pretty damn cool…although I have to admit that the face rang a bell, but the name did not.  I know him now after looking through IMDB!

Being a Robert Altman film, this movie has a star studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harrelson, the aforementioned Mr. Reilly, Kevin Kline, and Tommy Lee Jones.  Lindsay Lohan acted pretty well in this film and even sang too, although stuff like this meant I kept trying to see if there was something wrong with her nose.  Ha!

Garrison Keillor, who wrote the script, is one ugly son of a bitch, but he sure has a great voice and apparently, a good talent for writing too.

Overall, I’d characterize the movie as this.  Lots of singing.  A lot of character interaction with no actual plot advancement…people talk about random nothings and it feels like nothing but ends up being somewhat interesting because the script is written well.  Sort of like an M. Night Shmayalan film in that respect.  Some oddball high concept stuff happens that drives what little there is of the plot forward…however, I’m not faulting the movie for the lack of a plot.  That’s simply how it was written.  Best part of the movie?  The “Bad Jokes” song.

I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to see it again, but I think if you read the above and it sounds appealing, go get a ticket.  The “Bad Jokes” song might be worth it alone…there are some zingers in there you can keep around for posterity’s sake.

More on the SXSW Interactive portion to come.

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