The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is over and Peter, Russ and I have all returned home. We’ll have some more coverage over this week wrapping up the massive event, but first, here’s the full list of films that won awards at the fest.
Buzzed about films The Spectacular Now, Upstream Color and Dirty Wars all picked up honors, but it was Fruitvale (Russ’s review is here) that was the standout, winning both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The full list is below. Read More »
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If a movie can be both gentle and scathing, Fruitvale is it. In this simple but stunningly effective film, first-time feature director Ryan Coogler responds to the shooting death of a 22-year old Oakland man at a BART station on New Year’s Day 2009. The writer/director recreates the horrific action in a straightforward manner that is largely free of hyperbole and excess emotional manipulation. The climax of the film is one of the most powerful sequences you’re likely to see on a movie screen this year. Read More »
While Steve Jobs changed the world with his innovations and forward thinking, the first biopic about him, Jobs, does not. It is a competent retelling of Jobs’ life, beginning with his college years, and running through the period when he regained control of Apple in the 1990s.
Ashton Kutcher plays the title role and does a good job at making you forget there’s a big star under the beard and glasses. It’s the script by Matt Whiteley, however, where the cracks begin to show. Jobs [the new official spelling of the title] is so hell-bent on cramming all these seminal moments into one film, it never builds much context around them. We never feel like they mean anything or understand the “why” about the big moments. The film loves to tell us things, but never quite explains any in a satisfactory way.
The resulting product is an entertaining but flawed take on the man who co-created Apple. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern, Jobs had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Friday night. Read more after the jump Read More »
There’s a moment about 15 minutes into Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes where writer/director Francesca Gregorini hooks you in. At the start you meet Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario), a beautiful, damaged girl with a super sharp wit. Then Linda (Jessica Biel) moves in next door. She’s beautiful too, of course, and a new mother, and you’re probably thinking this movie is already predictable.
But then Gregorini does something so unexpected, so creepy, so darkly hilarious that you can’t help but be 100% on board for the ride. And where she takes you is a really nice place to be. Read more after the jump. Read More »
Sarah Polley‘s documentary Stories We Tell is absolutely brilliant. I don’t use that word lightly, but I’ll say it again: brilliant. The actress-turned-director trains the camera on herself in a movie exploring not only her own family, but how people tell stories. She focuses on the truths embedded in them and different points of view. To help bolster that approach, Polley films not only her family, but herself filming the documentary, and cuts between the two seemlessly.
So while we’re hear Polley’s family history — how her mother and father met, got married, had kids, went through terrible trials, tribulations — we see the family, we see archival footage, we hear different points of view from all parties involved, and we see Polley behind the camera doing this, manipulating and prodding her subjects. And from there things get even more amazing.
After premiering at Berlin and playing Toronto and Telluride, Stories We Tell hit the slopes of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and just might be the best film at the festival. Read More »
With three days remaining, A.C.O.D. is my favorite film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by first-timer Stuart Zicherman, it’s about “Adult Children of Divorce” and stars Adam Scott as Carter, a man whose parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) had a brutal breakup on his 9th birthday. Decades later his brother (Clark Duke) decides to take the plunge into matrimony and it brings up some major issues caused by the traumatic breakup. Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch are also along for the ride.
Co-written by Zicherman and Ben Karlin, the script for A.C.O.D. is a Swiss watch. Everything is economical, hilarious, perfectly-paced and never in-your-face obvious. There are loads of big laughs wrapped around unexpected plot points, resonant emotion and great character development. The cast all bring such vigorous life to the film that it almost makes a sad and touchy subject, divorce, into something to be envious of.
A.C.O.D. is a special, miraculous film and the exact reason why you come to the Sundance Film Festival. It’ll leave you happy and high on the power of comedic cinema. Read more after the jump and watch a video blog. Read More »
Update: Toy’s House was renamed The Kings of Summer, so I’ve changed the title in this review.
Coming of age stories are a dime a dozen. Good ones are one in a million and The Kings of Summer, written by Chris Galletta and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is definitely the latter. It’s the story of Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) who along with his friend Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and oddball Biaggio (Moises Aries) decide to build their own house in the woods and run away from home. Not a tree house, mind you, a real house with everything except plumbing, electricity and running water.
The true joy in the film, though, comes not just from seeing these kids come into their own, it’s with the adult cast, which includes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Offerman and Mullally in particular are just spectacularly hilarious, which offsets some of the swings and misses on the part of the kids. Read more after the jump. Read More »
Magic Magic is the second of two Sundance 2013 films from writer/director Sebastián Silva and star Michael Cera. This is the one that features Cera performing much of his dialogue — quite credibly, I believe — in Spanish. But Cera isn’t actually the lead here. That role belongs to Juno Temple, who very impressivly plays a young woman who goes completely out of her mind while visiting a cousin in Chile.
Programmed as part of the Midnight series at Sundance, there’s the implication that Silva’s film is a horror picture. And it is, to a certain extent, but it’s of the sort seen in Roman Polanski movies such as Repulsion and The Tenant. As with Stoker, this is a horror film where the monsters are simply people; here, they’re too selfish and short-sighted to see what damage they’re doing.
In its best moments, Magic Magic has far more power to unnerve than most horror. The disintegration of one girl’s psyche is rendered in such familiar, insistent terms that you might feel your own sanity crack slightly while the film runs.
Read More »
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