SXSW Secret Screening a bust; Harry Knowles up next

By Sean O’Connell The “Secret Screening” held Monday afternoon at SXSW turned out to be a big surprise … mainly because it wasn’t one of the titles most people were guessing out in the line.

In what was one of the most buzzy moments of this year’s fest so far, the crowd that piled into the Paramount Theater around 2 p.m. speculated wildly on what SXSW programmers had in store.

A rumor that Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” was on the docket was shot down when no one received 3D glasses on the way in. A rumor that the 20th Century Fox theme song was heard over the house speaker system as audio was tweaked sent fans to the Web to see what the studio had on the release schedule? Would it be “Rio?” Maybe an early look at Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life?”

None of the above.

Instead, Mike Cahill’s Sundance drama “Another Earth,” introduced by star and co-writer Brit Marling, played to mixed reviews. A difficult story of a young woman affected by a tragic car accident, “Earth” references a unique bit of science-fiction, but doesn’t develop either the sci-fi or the human relationship that it’s meant to support. While I liked the idea behind “Earth,” it was tough to defend the film’s illogical plotting (and even tougher to ignore the loud chuckles from the Paramount crowd).

Luckily, SXSW has one more trick up its sleeve tonight. Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News will preside over an anniversary screening back at the Paramount tonight, and speculation is running rampant. Knowles has said he is picking a retro film, but that could be to throw people off his trail. We’ll know soon enough. I’m off to the Paramount, Will report back later. I hope and pray it’s “E.T.”

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