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 »
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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.
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In terms of message, there isn’t really much to The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. It’s a film about love and the trials and tribulations we endure for it. Which, in a way, is pretty much the theme of half the movies ever made. What makes the film so entertaining is that it’s kind of insane. Shia LaBeouf plays the title character, who ignores society and goes on a seat of his pants adventure across Bucharest, embracing every impulse and never knowing what’s coming next. The audience can probably see what’s coming next, but getting there is a wild, frivolous ride.
Making his feature film debut, commercial director Fredrik Bond has made a visually impressive, thematically pointless joyride tainted with drugs and blood. And if that sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll love The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. Read More »
Have you been following our coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival? It’s been a crazy six days so far and with five days to go, who knows what great films are left to discover or get on your radar. So far, we’ve reviewed (or at least discussed) nearly 20 different movies that you will be talking about later this year and have plenty more on the way. Some of the highlights include Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s The East, Michael Cera in Crystal Fairy, the horror sequel S-VHS, Richard Linklater’s incredible Before Midnight and the controversial Escape from Tomorrow. Click on each of those for the reviews.
We also reviewed such buzzed about films as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction, the star-studded comedy The Way Way Back, and James Ponsoldt’s teen drama The Spectacular Now, all of which have been picked up for distribution. For everything else we’ve written so far, click on this link.
The latest films picked up for distrubution include Toy’s House, about a group of kids who run away from home and build a house in the woods, the tense real-life thriller Fruitvale and the Jack Kerouac/Daniel Radcliffe film Kill Your Darlings, the real life porn story Lovelace, David Gordon Green’s Paul Rudd/Emile Hirsch comedy Prince Avalanche, among others.
After the jump, read who picked those films up and which others you’ll be seeing in theaters soon. Read More »
You may remember the news stories from late in the summer of 2008. Eleven climbers died trying to climb the second tallest, and most treacherous mountain in the world: K2. The specific details of the tragedy were never made public, mostly because the survivors all had different stories to tell.
The precise intersection of those stories is the mystery director Nick Ryan unravels in The Summit, a documentary combining footage from the actual mountain with stunning reenactments and eyewitness interviews. Transitioning between the three disciplines, Ryan is able to not only tell the story of 24 climbers who climbed the mountain, he’s actually able to piece together exactly how 11 of them perished. Blending those two stories together, however, presents a problem.
Read more about the film below. Read More »
Yesterday at Sundance Jim Rash and Nat Faxon premiered their film The Way Way Back. The Descendants writers penned the film several years ago, and only made it last year. The coming of age comedy is set in a Massachusetts seaside town , and features quite a cast: Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry make up the key ensemble, and relative newcomer Liam James plays the young man Duncan, who is trying to deal with his mom’s douchy new boyfriend (Carell) as they spend summer at his family beach house.
After the screening many people commented that the film seemed like an obvious buy for Fox Searchlight. It has that easy and appealing blend of dialogue-based humor and slight pathos that tends to make a hit. Germain vocalized a similar notion in his review.
And now Searchlight is said to be close to a $10m deal to pick up the movie. If the deal goes through, Searchlight will have beat out Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. in a sale that Deadline calls “one of the most spirited auctions in recent Sundance memory.” It would also be one of the priciest deals ever for the fest.
After the break, Austenland and Concussion get distribution deals, and several docs get distribution, too. Read More »
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