David Gordon Green

Kevin Hart, right, teaches Will Ferrell how to survive a stint in prison in Warner Bros. Pictures’ film “Get Hard.” The film is just one of the headliners premiering during SXSW.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

From all corners of the globe, movie fans are streaming into South By Southwest to catch the latest cinematic treats the festival has to offer. As always, several high-profile films will make their debuts at venues scattered throughout Austin. Here are just a handful of the big films playing at SXSW. All of them will screen during the film portion of the festival, which starts Friday and ends March 21. 

Get Hard (100 Minutes)

Monday, March 16, 7 p.m. at Paramount Theatre

Comedic powerhouses Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart team up in this comedy about a hedge fund manager who must learn how to get tough before he begins a prison sentence. This R-rated comedy aims for belly laughs, banking on the manic personalities of its lead actors. This is the first film the duo has starred in together, so it will be interesting to see how they play off each other.

Ex Machina (108 Minutes)

Saturday, March 14, 8 p.m. at Paramount Theatre

Fans of science fiction and general creepiness will likely crawl toward “Ex Machina,” a movie that explores what happens when artificial intelligence software starts to develop emotional attachments. This is the directorial debut of Alex Garland, whom movie buffs may recognize as the writer of horror-film favorite “28 Days Later” and the action-packed “Dredd.” Fans of Garland’s work can expect the same cyber-punk elements and chilling characters that line most other items on his résumé.

Manglehorn (97 Minutes)

Saturday, March 14, 2 p.m. at Paramount Theatre

Al Pacino returns to the silver screen with “Manglehorn,” a film in which he plays a small-town locksmith who struggles to retain emotional connections with his son, his protégé and others after his wife dies. Not much else is known about the film, except that it’s new territory for director David Gordon Green. Green, who is known for his well-received comedy “Pineapple Express” and the widely hated “Your Highness,” has a hit-or-miss record as of late. Perhaps a small-scale, dramatic film will show Green’s strengths as a director.

Spy (120 Minutes)

Sunday, March 15, 9 p.m. at Paramount Theatre

Having already played a comedic role in buddy-cop film “The Heat,” Melissa McCarthy will now step up her game as a deskbound CIA agent who is unexpectedly tossed out into the field. McCarthy’s brash, funny personality has been a reliable hit with audiences, and her role in “Spy” will likely continue the trend. McCarthy’s pairing with co-actor Jason Statham is an interesting choice that could lead to hilarious results. The actress reteams with “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig for “Spy” and will also star in the director’s reboot of “Ghostbusters” next year.

BRAND: A Second Coming (118 Minutes)

Friday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. at Paramount Theatre

Perhaps the strangest film in this year’s lineup, “BRAND: A Second Coming” explores comedian and actor Russell Brand as he delves into popular culture and to apparently argue that it depraves the world’s population. Brand is an odd figure in the Hollywood spotlight, so naturally, a biography about him seems destined to be as weird and avant-garde as its subject. It’s likely that the critical reception of the film will be based on whether viewers are attracted to Brand’s irreverent personality or repulsed by it.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (127 Minutes)

Saturday, March 14, 3:30 p.m. at Vimeo Theater

Considering that the last cinematic exploration of Steve Jobs was a critical failure, this documentary may finally give audiences what they’ve been waiting for — full insight into the mind of the deceased Apple guru. The film promises to show multiple sides of Jobs and won’t shy away from addressing claims that Jobs was a tyrant. This documentary may hold the power to change the audience’s perception on the man who made Apple what it is today. 

Check the SXSW website for additional screening times and venues.