Knock Knock

When Eli Roth directs a movie, there’s a certain expectation from the film. Gore, disturbing imagery and sheer terror are associated with the director of Cabin Fever and Hostel. Roth knows that as well as anyone. With his latest film Knock Knock, he uses those expectations to his advantage to toy with the audience. The film slowly builds, but situations don’t get violent. You might question what the hell you’re watching. What is the point here? That might be frustrating in the hands of another filmmaker, but not from Roth. For almost half of Knock Knock, the film presents fresh, difficult and exceedingly awkward situations for the characters. And because you have no idea what’s going to happen, that’s scary and thrilling in its own unique way.

Knock Knock, which stars Keanu Reeves as a happy husband randomly thrust into an uncomfortable situation with two young girls, premiered this weekend at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Continue reading our Knock Knock review. Read More »

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The Overnight review

Sundance 2015 has barely begun but already, sex is everywhere. Straight, gay, exploratory, odd, difficult, and, whenever possible, hilarious. It’s all here at the fest and The Overnight (not to be confused with doc The Overnighters) fits right in.

Beginning with a couple played by Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling frantically rushing through morning sex before their kid bursts into the room, this is the movie where you’ll see Scott and Jason Schwartzman dance together naked. Like, totally naked. OK, actually about 98% naked. That other 2% is a visual gag carries a hefty comic punch and casts a long shadow over the rest of the story. Even better is a free-sprited, swinging performance from Schwartzman, who bats around the comic stereotype of the LA “cool dad” like a kid with a balloon.

The Overnight is a wild, very funny caricature of the supreme awkwardness of allowing yourself to be truly vulnerable in front of the person you love the most. Read More »

Finders Keepers review sundance

On Friday I screened the first great film of the 2015 Sundance film festival. Finders Keepers is a hilarious, bizarre and sometimes devastating documentary about the true life story of two men. Shannon Whisnant purchases a storage unit at auction and is surprised to find a severed human leg inside a used bbq grill. The other man, John Wood, wants his leg back, but Whisnant isn’t about to let that happen.

Read the rest of my Finders Keepers review and see a clip from the film, embedded after the jump.

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Drew Struzan Batkid header

On November 15, 2013, an event happened that showed the best of what this tech-crazed, celebrity obsessed world can do. Ironically though, the person the event was about had no idea what he’d inspired. That’s the story of Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, which tells the incredibly story of Miles Scott, a young California boy diagnosed with Leukemia whose one wish was to be the real Batman. The San Francisco Make-A-Wish Foundation tried to grant that wish and as word began to spread of their plans, it became an event that – as the title says – was heard around the world.

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World premiered this weekend at the Slamdance Film Festival. Continue our Batkid Begins review below. Read More »

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Filmmaker Sean Baker (Four Letter Words, Take Out, Prince of Broadway, Starlet) premiered his new film Tangerine at the Library theater Friday at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. A Q&A followed the screening during which Baker revealed that the film was shot entirely using three iPhone 5S phones. (Update: Our original story said “almost entirely,” before the film’s team provided a correction.) The revelation got an audible gasp from the crowd who had just watched the movie. It’s not the that film looked amazing — it had a digital look to it for sure — it’s just that no one could tell that it was shot on iPhones.

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How to Change the World review

Being too young when the group was in its initial firebrand incarnation to understand, much less appreciate the early activism of Greenpeace, I’ve ended up simply dismissive of the organization as a whole. That’s despite knowing nothing about the group’s founding. The Sundance doc How to Change the World is a good way find a path back through the group’s history.

At its best, How to Change the World is tremendously inspiring, and by turns thrilling, comic, and shocking. A portrait of the achievements of an unlikely group of allies rather than a sales pitch for the modern organization, How to Change the World is drawn from writings by founder Robert Hunter, the group’s shaggy, media-savvy general, and features jaw-dropping footage culled from the Greenpeace archive of film footage. Though while the film offers a vision of Greenpeace I’d never seen, it is also somewhat overlong, and cursed with organizational problems that add nothing to the audience experience. Read More »

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The Bronze

The Bronze gets a gold medal for ambition. Directed by Bryan Buckley, it stars the Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rausch (who also co-wrote the film) as former Olympic hero Hope Ann Greggory. Think Kerri Strug turned Tonya Harding. A decade removed from a life-changing Bronze medal, she’s now a foul-mouthed, delusional has-been living in her father’s basement and doing unspeakable things while watching her former self.

Hope eats like crap, curses like a sailor, treats her dad (Office Space‘s Gary Cole) awful and is just generally a terrible person. Yet when her former coach dies, she’s given an opportunity to redeem herself by coaching another rising gymnast. Along the way she’ll date Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch, make fun of the gymnast’s mom played by Cecily Strong, and have the most flat out hilarious, disturbing and crazy sex in recent memory with The Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan.

So does that all work? Continue reading our Sundance 2015 The Bronze review below. Read More »

Vincent Cassel in Partisan

The Sundance Film Festival is proving to be a source of endless delight even for those of us who are just reading reviews from home. Because while we might not be able to watch the movies from our couches, we can still enjoy the trailers as thoroughly as anyone in Park City.

The latest Sundance entry to unleash a trailer is Partisan, directed by Ariel Kleiman. At the center of the story is Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel), an 11-year-old trained as an assassin. When this dangerous but sheltered boy begins thinking for himself, he poses a problem for father figure Gregori (Vincent Cassel). Watch the first Partisan trailer after the jump.

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Why We Go To The Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Marquee

NOTE: We ran this article in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and have updated it for 2015.

The Sundance Film Festival is the best known film festival in the United States. Say the word “Sundance” to anyone, film lover or not, and chances are they’ve heard of the festival. As a movie blog though, the problem with covering Sundance is that virtually all of the movies are brand new. We haven’t heard of them, you haven’t heard of them, so why would you even care about them?

More than any of the casting news, trailers or film stills that we post on a daily basis, what happens in that small corner of Utah for a little over a week in January is probably the most important movie event of the year. Even so, talk to the most seasoned movie fan and they don’t spend half as much time focusing on what’s going on at Sundance as they do bitching about movies that came out three years ago. Plain and simple, the best films that you will see in theaters for the next 12 months are being shown at Sundance over the next week and a half. And while you probably haven’t heard of them in January, you’ll definitely have heard of them by December. Don’t you want in on the ground floor?

For the next 7 days myself, Russ Fischer and Peter Sciretta will be in Park City, Utah at the Sundance Film Festival. And while you might not be eager to click and read about a movie you haven’t heard of yet, we urge you to do so. Some of the films that people hadn’t heard of when they played Sundance in the past are films like Saw, The Blair Witch Project, Donnie Darko, 28 Days Later, Napoleon Dynamite, Memento, Bottle Rocket, Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects. Think of all the movies that have been made since because filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and Bryan Singer broke out at the Sundance Film Festival. Who is the breakout star this year? You’ll have to follow our coverage to find out.

Still not convinced? We’ve compiled even more films that you know and love that got their start at Sundance after the jump. Read More »