Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
The Pitch: “Of all the bands to come out of the 1970s Los Angeles music scene, The Runaways are by far the most uniquely fascinating. This is partially due to their music but more so to the fact that they were teenage girls whose wild and reckless lifestyle was the stuff of legend. Focusing on the duo of guitarist/vocalist Joan Jett and lead vocalist Cherie Currie as they navigate a rocky road of touring and record-label woes, the film chronicles the band’s formation as well as their meteoric rise under the malevolent eye of an abusive manager.
Who: Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart
Why: I’m both interested in stories about musical artists from the 1970’s (Almost Famous is one of my favorite films). And despite the Twilight craziness, I’m interested to see her again in a more challenging indie film, alongside Fanning.
The Pitch: “A new drama chronicling of the highs and lows of privileged kids on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, in a tale that involves sex, drugs and murder. Written by Jordan Melamed (the director of 2001’s Maniac), the story follows a young drug dealer who watches as his high-rolling life is dismantled in the wake of his cousin’s murder, which sees his best friend arrested for the crime.”
Who: Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, 50 Cent, and Zoë Kravitz
Why: Despite the fact that it is directed by Joel Schumacher, I still am interested in this film based purely on the oddly varied cast. And lets not forget Schumacher’s better films, like The Lost Boys, Flatliners, A Time To Kill, and Phone Booth.
The Pitch: For those of you who don’t know, the story is about a U.S. contractor working in Iraq who awakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Who: Ryan Reynolds stars in this one-man show, which is shot completely inside the coffin.
Why: I’ve been following this project since it was announced. I love minimalistic single-room thrillers that force a bunch of characters to clash, because they seem the hardest to write. This could be a disaster or amazing, as the whole film takes place in a coffin, with one actor, and no cut aways to the outside world. I have talked with people who have read the script and it seems universally liked. I wonder how it will play out on screen.
The Pitch: a single-room thriller set on a ski-resort chairlift. The story follows three college students who are mistakenly stranded on a chairlift, and are “forced to make life-or-death choices that prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.”
Who: Hatchet writer/director Adam Green‘s Frozen, starring Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers
Why: I had a chance to screen an early cut of the film, and loved it. I’m not a skier, but every morning and night each year at the Telluride Film Festival, I ride a gondola over a mountain. I’m afraid of heights, and have always wondered what would happen if for some reason the cable just stopped, or worse, broke. Frozen is the type of film which will make you scared to ever ride a chairlift ever again.
The Pitch: Michael Chiklis plays a smarmy high school principal who suddenly institutes a zero-tolerance crusade, introducing mandatory drug tests for all students. Failure of which will result in immediate expulsion. Matt Bush plays a straight-arrow valedictorian named Henry Burke who normally would have nothing to worry about, except he just tried marijuana for the very first time. I’ll let the Sundance description take over: “With his college scholarship hanging in the balance, Burke begrudgingly teams up with charismatic pothead Travis Breaux to do the only thing they can think of to neutralize this threat—get the entire student body stoned. In his debut feature, director/cowriter John Stalberg Jr. percolates his deliriously manic narrative with sparkling energy and deviant characters, joyously ramming his protagonists deeper and deeper into frenzied chaos. HIGH school paints its slacker wit with lush broad strokes, firmly accomplishing the conclusive stoner fantasia run hilariously amuck.”
Who: John Stalberg‘s feature directorial debut, starring Michael Chiklis, Matt Bush, Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Mykelti Williamson, Andrew Wilson, Yeardley Smith, Michael Vartan, Curtis Armstrong, Erica Phillips and Adhir Kaylan.
Why: Many people are comparing the film to The Wackness, another pot dramedy that I fell in love with when it played Sundance a couple years back. The early production photos that show Brody as a bearded drug dealer also caught my eye.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
The Pitch: The Canadian horror comedy follows two West Virginian hillbillies who go on vacation to their dilapidated mountain cabin, but their peaceful trip goes horribly awry when a bunch of college kids show up. Basically, it’s the story of the typical hillbilly horror film told from the other side. And as it turns out, the hillbillys aren’t evil, and are only mistaken as psycho killers through a series of misconstrued circumstances.
Who: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing and Chelan Simmons. Eli Craig, director of the acclaimed short film The Tao of Pong, makes his feature directorial debut. Co-written by Morgan Jurgenson.
Why: I love the two lead actors: Tyler Labine, who most people will recognize from the television series Reaper, alongside Alan Tudyk, who most people will recognize from the television series Firefly. I love the concept, which seems perfect for a short film… but I’m concerned that the film might be a one note joke told over 86 minutes… we’ll see.