Day Eight wraps up an exceptionally good Sundance with a late-breaking entry to round out the Top Five list
Sundance’s final drama unfolded on the way home, and not because the Salt Lake City airport was closed for much of the day thanks to a freak episode of freezing rain. I’d pushed Valentine Road (A) aside a few times during the festival; the subject, the murder of ...
Documentaries on Pussy Riot, FAME Studios and Sound City highlight an all-music Day Seven at Sundance
As Sundance moves past its first weekend, the festival begins to change shape, and by Tuesday, it’s a different place altogether: No more gifting suites and corporate lounges, few big-ticket premieres, and a lot of intriguing possibilities. Purely by accident, the movies I had lined up for my penultimate ...
Day Six at Sundance tackles the Beltway Sniper killings and a second go-around for Michael Cera and Sebastían Silva
It seemed odd for Sundance programmers to separate by five days the premieres of the festival’s two Sebastían Silva/Michael Cera joints: the loopy drug odyssey Crystal Fairy, which screened on opening night, and Magic Magic (B), in which Juno Temple has a schizophrenic episode amid some of ...
Day Five at Sundance is all about the perplexing, overwhelming, heart-stoppingly beautiful Upstream Color
Given that yesterday’s post occasioned some discussion about spoilers, a brief preamble to my review of Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color (A): If you want to preserve the experience of seeing the film cold, with no idea what’s in store, I suggest you read no further. In fact ...
Before Midnight, a Terrence Malick homage and Lake Bell's directorial debut top a great Day Four at Sundance
The movies are full of great love stories, tales of all-consuming passion, of obstacles overcome and tragedies escaped, but few have tried to capture what happens to love over the long haul, how it’s sustained and challenged, eroded and enriched. Eighteen years ago, Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie ...
The safest bet on an unrepeatable experience at Sundance this year is Escape From Tomorrow (A-), a movie shot guerilla-style inside the Magic Kingdom. That’s a bet, however, I’d be delighted to lose, since Randy Moore’s first feature is a sui generis work of art that deserves ...
Day Two at Sundance brings Joseph Gordon-Levitt's risible directorial debut and a triumphant follow-up to Smashed
Sundance's second day got off to a rousing start with Twenty Feet From Stardom (B+), Morgan Neville’s documentary about the plight of the backing singer. The names of his subjects may not be familiar, but their voices are: Darlene Love sang uncredited lead on some of the girl-group ...
It might seem logical for a film festival to open with one of its best entries, but in practice, opening night movies are usually middle-of-the-road fare—comfortable, unchallenging movies unlikely confuse the donors and corporate sponsors in the crowd. (Toronto, which normally starts with a forgettable Canadian film, broke significantly ...
The Words: This punishingly idiotic melodrama is a maddening contradiction: a film about the publishing world and a great literary fraud that doesn’t have a literary bone in its body or a thought in its pretty, empty little head. It appears to be the work of people who have ...
Shut Up And Play The Hits
Director/Time: Dylan Southern and William Lovelace, 105 min.
Headline: LCD Soundsystem is playing at your house
Indie type: Concert film
Report: Look, it’s not like title doesn’t warn us. Shut Up And Play The Hits promises to be a documentary ...
Bachelorette: Don’t weep too hard for Lizzy Caplan. The premature cancellation of Party Down remains one of life’s great tragedies and her HBO adaptation of Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band never got off the ground, but she is having one hell of ...
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Director/Time: Benh Zeitlin, 91 min.
Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry
Headline: Before and after the deluge, Louisiana shack-dwellers scrape to survive
Indie type: Pre-apocalyptic
Report: It’s difficult to explain exactly what Beasts Of The Southern Wild is, though it’s undoubtedly something extraordinary ...
Smashed: Alcohol isn’t just the great social lubricant: it can also be the glue holding troubled relationships together in a state of inebriated dysfunction. In the powerful, uncompromising relationship drama Smashed,a hard-partying schoolteacher (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her slacker music journalist husband (Aaron Paul) share a bond sealed ...
Under African Skies
Director/Time: Joe Berlinger, 108 min.
Headline: Paul Simon goes back to Graceland
Indie type: Behind the music
Report: One of the best and most unexpected gifts my dad ever bought me was a cassette copy of Paul Simon’s Graceland for my 16th birthday, in ...
Me @ The Zoo: Nothing takes the fun out of laughing at other people’s misfortune quite like acknowledging their fundamental humanity. That’s the lesson of Me @ The Zoo,a low-budget, Michael Stipe-executive-produced documentary about Chris Crocker, a flamboyantly gay cross-dressing teenager from Tennessee who rocketed to national infamy after ...
The First Time
Director/Time: Jonathan Kasdan, 98 min.
Cast: Britt Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts
Headline: High school kids fall in love over the course of one weekend
Indie type: Teen romance
Report: Many of the movies I see at Sundance are torn between wanting to be bold ...
In my last post, I promised a report on a big Aziz Ansari/Drake double-header going down at the fabulous Bing Bar on Park City’s Main Street. I would love to tell you that the show was tremendous and hilarious, but in true Sundance tradition, I showed up half ...
Director/Time: Quentin Dupieux, 94 min.
Cast: Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexia Dziena, Steve Little, Regan Burns, William Fichtner
Headline: Just another “Man loses dog, man looks for dog, man forced into existential realizations” story
Indie type: Work that quirk, McGirk
Report: Even those who didn’t like Quentin ...
Sundance is a world onto itself, a cinematic Brigadoon that transforms Park City, Utah into the epicenter of the film universe for roughly a week or so.
It is a festival rooted in ritual and tradition, a celebration of independent filmmaking and DIY guerrilla antics generously sponsored by an array ...
Director/Time: Antonio Campos, 105 min.
Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Michael Abiteboul
Headline: Tourist goes nutzoid
Indie type: Guy walks around (and makes bad choices)
Report: Antonio Campos’ debut feature Afterschool was one seriously upsetting film, telling the story of an alienated boarding school student with such ...
The Queen Of Versailles
Director/Time: Lauren Greenfield, 100 min.
Headline: Super-rich couple loses billions
Indie type: Car-wreck gawk-doc
Report: I know we all try to maintain some sense of perspective about our lives, but let’s face it: even though we know that stubbing a toe or being ...
For far too long, just about any public conversation about the Sundance Film Festival was primarily concerned with whether the fest had sold out. Had Sundance become all about swag lounges and viral marketing and extravagant multi-million dollar distribution deals handed out to mediocre middlebrow quirk-fests? Had the the premiere ...
Director/Time: Eugene Jarecki, 105 min.
Headline: Where’s the rest of him?
Indie type: Slick bio-doc
Report: A couple of years ago, I read a fascinating book about Ronald Reagan’s evolution as a Cold Warrior, from his kill ‘em all hawkishness of the ‘70s and early ...
Hobo With a Shotgun: Never underestimate the power of a good title, especially one that renders plot summaries redundant. No one needs to guess what Baby Geniuses or Snakes On A Plane or Hobo With A Shotgun are about (baby geniuses, snakes on a plane, and a hobo with a ...
Director/Time: Jeff Nichols, 120 min.
Cast: Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker
Headline: Is there such a thing as being too prepared?
Indie type: Portentous domestic drama
Report: Writer-director Jeff Nichols re-teams with his Shotgun Stories star Michael Shannon for Take Shelter, a ...
Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times: With his sandpaper rasp, pummeling intensity, sharp wit, and brutally frank manner, New York Times media columnist and Night Of The Gun author David Carr serves as the pugnacious hero of Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times. He ...
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Director/Time: Sean Durkin, 101 min.
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy
Headline: You can take the girl out of the cult, but you can’t take the cult out of the girl
Indie type: Nerve-jangler
Report: About halfway through writer-director Sean Durkin ...
Director/Time: Steve James, 162 min.
Headline: An eye for an eye makes an entire community blind
Indie type: Verité doc
Report: For his most ambitious documentary since Hoop Dreams, Steve James spent a year following a group of Chicago activists who work under the banner of ...
Beats, Rhymes & Life: Michael Rapaport’s riveting hip-hop documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life gets uncomfortably close to A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most important and influential groups of the past 25 years. It’s at once a loving, magnetic and gloriously alive tribute to a golden age when a ...
Director/Time: Tom McCarthy, 106 min.
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Alex Shaffer
Headline: Struggling lawyer/wrestling coach experiences reversal of fortune
Indie type: Middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleasing dramedy
Report: With his first two films The Station Agent and The Visitor, writer-director (and sometime actor) Tom ...
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