Sundance 2020 Movies Sold

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival is underway, and we’ve already seen a lot of great movies in the mountains of Park City, Utah. But this year, studios and distributors are being a little more cautious when it comes to picking up any of the buzzed about movies playing at the festival. Last year saw some big deals result in disappointing box office returns, and without many big movies garnering loads of attention, the Sundance market is moving at a slower pace than usual. But even so, there are already some movies that have been picked up, and we’ve got a list of them rounded up below that will be continuously updated. Read More »

Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made Review

The best part about an indie movie becoming a critical or commercial hit is watching what the filmmaker does next. Do they take that success and use it to helm a big-budget blockbuster? Do they follow up with another personal film? If you’re Academy Award-winning writer/director Tom McCarthy, you take the success of the hard-hitting Spotlight and make a detective noir movie for kids co-starring a 1500-pound “pet” polar bear. The result, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a delightful new addition to Disney+ that somehow still makes sense as McCarthy’s next project, and it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

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sundance sales record

Update: Deadline is now reporting that the Palm Springs deal is actually worth $22 million, not just the $17,500,000.69 that was previously reported. Apparently there is a “built in bonus structure” involved which was not mentioned in the official press release, making it an even more impressive acquisition and bolstering its position as the biggest Sundance deal in history. Our original article follows.

Andy Samberg’s Palm Springs just broke the nicest records at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival this year. Hulu and Neon acquired the romantic-comedy for $17.5 million…and 69 cents. The number broke Sundance sale records for the biggest acquisition deal, sailing past Nate Parker’s 2016 film The Birth of a Nation by, yes, 69 cents. And while Hulu and Neon made a historic deal worthy of a few winks and nudges, Apple and A24 celebrated a more serious record-breaking deal in their acquisition of Boys Statea buzzy documentary that at $12 million, became the highest-paid documentary in Sundance history.

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Spaced Out VR

During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, I took a trip to the moon.

Spaced Out, a virtual reality experience from French digital artist Pierre “Pyaré” Friquet, is one of the most transporting, immersive things I’ve ever tried. Donning a bathing suit, a floatation device, and an underwater VR headset equipped with a snorkel, I floated on the surface of a pool while being visually transported across the surface of a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic moon, all set to the actual audio from the real Apollo 11 mission.

The best part? You may be able to experience it yourselves one day, because Pyaré hopes to expand it around the world. Read more about this experience below.
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Sundance 2020 Movies Sold

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival is coming to a close, and the awards for various achievements in filmmaking have been announced. As usual, the awards were spread out among a wide variety of films, honoring dramatic narratives, documentaries, world cinema, and more. But one movie came away with the top prizes from jurors and audiences.

Coming Away with the U.S. Grand Jury Prize in the dramatic category, as well as the Audience Award, is Minari from director Lee Isaac Chung. The film follows a 7-year-old Korean-American boy whose life is turned upside down when his father decides to move their family to rural Arkansas and start a farm in the mid-1980s. But there are plenty of other awards that were handed out, and you can learn about all of them with the full list of 2020 Sundance Film Festival awards winners below. Read More »

Boys State Review

One attends a festival in hopes of finding a film that leaves you giddy with how good it is, seeking always for that thrill gained from a sense of discovery, uncovering that gem before it gets to be seen by a larger group of people. It’s almost like a drug, where you take hit after hit of cinema just waiting for one to fully give you that rush. 

This is one of those movies you spend days and days just hoping to uncover.

Boys State follows a bunch of high-strung Texan teens as they head to the Capitol in Austin to engage in political machinations. For decades the American Legion has sponsored “Boys State” events ostensibly in order to improve education in civics. A kind of summer camp for political junkies, this week-long event begins with the 1200 or so kids divvied up into separate parties – the Nationalists and the Federalists – and then tasked with picking party leadership, defining a platform, passing bills and, above all, electing a governor that represents the entire group.

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The Last Shift review

A good performance from Richard Jenkins can’t save The Last Shift, a languid fast food drama that has aspirations of exploring class and race in middle America, but lacks the tools to effectively do so. Documentary filmmaker Andrew Cohn makes the jump to narrative features here, telling the story of a fast food veteran tasked with training a new hire who possesses a wildly different outlook on life. It has the setup of a heartwarming story in which two mismatched men forge a begrudging respect for each other from their shared experiences in the kitchen, but The Last Shift has no interest in being that kind of movie. Instead, it tries to address some of this country’s biggest and most important issues and bites off far more than it can chew. Read More »

Sylvie’s Love review

Hollywood’s Golden Age is full of grand, sweeping love stories, but that era of cinema history didn’t exactly provide an equal playing field for filmmakers and actors of color. So Sylvie’s Love, writer/director Eugene Ashe’s new grand, sweeping love story, feels less like a pure homage than him making a movie that should have existed back then but was never given the chance. The result is an exquisite piece of old-school filmmaking, one in which star-crossed lovers and rain-soaked streets and a heart-achingly beautiful score combine to transport us into a sort of cinematic Twilight Zone where such a movie would have been placed right alongside contemporaries like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, From Here to Eternity, or Roman Holiday.
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Palm Springs review

Historically, when The Lonely Island (the comedy trio of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg) makes movies, those movies don’t perform well at the box office but eventually become cult hits. That may be about to change with Palm Springs, a Groundhog Day-style rom-com which has “mainstream hit” written all over it. The film, which is produced by The Lonely Island and directed by Max Barbakow, stars Samberg and Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother) and is among the most commercial and most satisfying things I’ve seen at this year’s festival. Read More »

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wendy review

Filmmakers just can’t stop returning to the world of Peter Pan. The story of the boy who never grew up holds sway over seemingly everyone, from Walt Disney, to Steven Spielberg, to Joe Wright, and beyond. The latest to tackle to the tale is Benh Zeitlin, director of Beasts of the Southern Wild. That 2012 indie was once acclaimed, but has since fallen out of favor. Zeitlin’s return, Wendy, is more of the same, for better or worse. If you enjoyed and still enjoy Beasts, you’ll probably find something to love about Zeitlin’s Peter Pan riff. But the filmmaker’s sophomore effort is also messier, and save for a handful of choices, ultimately brings nothing new to a familiar story.

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