After the breakthrough Sundance selected film Like Crazy (one of my favorites of 2011) presented a familiar but authentic and emotional approach to the idea of long distance relationships, there was much anticipation for director Drake Doremus' most recent festival entry, Breathe In. Much in the same vein as Like Crazy, the film starring Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones has a story we've seen before, especially at Sundance. A young girl enters the life of a happy family and shakes their foundation by striking up a romance with the patriarch. But what separates this film from last year's similar story Nobody Walks is significantly better writing, emotionally charged performances, and a grand, majestic score to drive it home.
The world of movie trailers has never really been the same since the man with the golden voiceover, Don LaFontaine, passed away years ago. In fact, voiceover is used quite sparingly in movie trailers nowadays in favor of text bumpers. This is something that hasn't gone unnoticed by actress and filmmaker Lake Bell, and she puts this niche part of the film industry in the center of In a World..., a romantic comedy that while familiar, still has plenty of charm, laughs and a subtle but relevant feminine message from a rising female talent. And it all begins when an aspiring voice actress (Bell) is kicked out of the house by her father (Fred Melamed), at the top of his voiceover game and ready to pass the torch, but not to his daughter.
I unabashedly, unequivocally love film festivals. Even after 7 years straight of attending 11-day long fests all over the world, I still love them. Sundance 2013 has just wrapped up and I'm on my flight home from Utah now, thinking back over the last 10 days, the 30 films I saw, the people I met, the experiences that defined this year at Sundance. It was another unforgettable, exciting, iconic year for me. In fact, one of the best in a long time. I saw a grand total of 30 films, something I haven't done since 2007/2008 when I first started attending this fest. Everything worked out perfect, and while I'm exhausted, I'm extremely happy.
The official awards for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. The Sundance awards are always very interesting to follow each year, because the winners are usually unexpected, but of course deserving of their awards. This year the two biggest winners were Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale (read our review) and Steve Hoover's doc Blood Brother, both of which won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in their respective categories. These two films, and all of the winners below, are worth watching out for when they eventually get released. Read on for the full list of 2013 winners below!
The man, the myth, the legend. The first feature about the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers and legendary innovator/leader. Premiering as the closing night film at Sundance 2013 is Jobs, directed by Joshua Michael Stern starring Steve Jobs look-alike Ashton Kutcher. But is it any good? Will it live up to his legacy? That was the question on everyone's mind, however I must unfortunately report that it's not The Social Network for Apple. It's an attempt to tell that kind of story, but it's nothing special, just a polished, inspirational look at the man and the years of struggle running one of the biggest companies in the world.
Who wants to see Steve Carell be an insufferable jerk? That's just one of the many notable qualities in The Way, Way Back, a new indie comedy from actors and writers Nat Faxon ("Ben & Kate") and Jim Rash ("Community"), who are also making their directorial debut. Carell's role, though supporting, is where our story really begins as his chastising of his girlfriend's (Toni Collete) teenage son Duncan (Liam James) for being a 3 out of 10 as a person resonates with him and spitefully inspires a summer adventure that will change his life. And what better place to learn the ropes of life then a local waterpark with a colorful cast of supporting characters that includes a scene-stealing Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and more. Read on!
This film should not exist. Yet, somehow, it does. The filmmakers wanted to take on this bold task, did what they needed to do at Disney World, made the film, and here it is. And it's totally insane. One of the most buzzed about films of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival is a small, extremely low budget feature film that was shot at and takes place entirely inside of Disney World. But it's no Disney movie (in fact, word is the powerful Disney legal team may go after this). It's a totally trippy, wacky, weird movie that is much better as an experience and concept than it is a film. However, I'm still extremely impressed that this was even made.
Briefly: In a move that was certainly expected, but still wholly satisfying, Sony Pictures Classics has announced their purchase of all North American and UK rights to Richard Linklater's romantic sequel Before Midnight, the follow-up to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The press release says, "At Sundance 2013 with 'Before Midnight', we have further confirmation that Richard Linklater is a film master at the peak of his form." Not one person hasn't been talking about Before Midnight here at Sundance, and it's the favorite film for many attendees, including myself. Read my glowing review here where I think it may be the best romance of all time, and stay tuned for any release date info.
With parents who have been married for over 25 years now, a comedy titled A.C.O.D. (which stands for Adult Children of Divorce) doesn't seem like it would be immediately appealing to me. But the directorial debut from Stu Zicherman (who wrote Elektra and the J.J. Abrams melodrama TV series "Six Degrees") features a cast that includes Adam Scott, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Amy Poehler, Clark Duke, Jane Lynch and Jessica Alba, and that's a bingo. Thankfully, the film which I was eagerly anticipating before it premiere at Sundance this week delivered a phenomenal comedy with some sharp writing, stellar acting and a direct line to the heart of all adult children of divorce.
One of my first introductions to David Sedaris' writing comes in the form of something that isn't exactly his writing, but rather a film based on his writing (specifically, his essay found in Naked). It's a film called C.O.G., adapted by up-and-coming filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez, returning to Sundance with his second feature film. Starring one of my favorite actors mostly known for Broadway roles finally branching into movies, Jonathan Groff, the film is a sleek but intricately fashioned slice of Oregonian truth following a well-intentioned young man from Yale who goes to work at an apple farm for experience on the other side.
The real Linda Lovelace endured some unspeakably horrible things during her rise and fall from fame, and a lot of those elements of her life have been used in other movies. Much of the biopic Lovelace feels familiar - we've seen stories about how the seedy porn industry comes with some dangerous characters and can easily corrupt people - but while this movie often feels like it's using cliches as storytelling crutches, it's important to remember that Lovelace actually lived through these events before they became fodder for popular fiction. Led by Amanda Seyfried, Lovelace is dark look at the life of porn's first adult superstar.
When it comes to modern thrillers, the tone, pacing and production values of the film are as important as the characters and story. At least for me. The second feature from up-and-coming director Zal Batmanglij, of Sound of My Voice from 2011, premiered at Sundance this year. Titled The East, it's an eco-terrorist thriller about a rogue collective that plans and orchestrates attacks against the corporations destroying the environment of this beautiful world. I wasn't particular a big fan of Sound of my Voice, but was surprised and thoroughly rocked to the core by The East, a vast improvement for Zal and outstanding film of its own.
Separately, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael have enjoyed lucrative comedy careers in TV and film. While Wilson blossomed as a "Saturday Night Live" cast member and can currently be seen on the underrated comedy series "Happy Endings," Raphael has been seen in films like Going the Distance and Year One with notable guest appearances on nearly a dozen TV shows. Individually they're rising comedy stars, but when they join forces, the result is a comedy dream team as the writers and stars of the hilarious, goofy and outlandish Ass Backwards, a film that fits right in with the Park City at Midnight selections.
Headlines called attention to the shooting of Oakland man Oscar Grant following an altercation gone awry with some police officers at the Bay Area Rapid Transit train station in the wee hours of the morning on New Year's Day 2009, and riots broke out with accusations of police brutality, racism, and justifiable anger. Now newcomer Ryan Coogler takes the story in his hands as writer and director with Fruitvale, a film developed at the Sundance screenwriting labs with support from the Sundance institute and the result is a true indie film recounting one of the most harrowing tales of a man at the wrong place at the wrong time.