After Sundance 2014, I was ready to discuss my favorite films I had the pleasure of seeing and share my overall views on the festival, like usual. As my time in Park City, Utah, drew to a close, I’d begun compiling a list of movies I wanted to recommend to our FBC community. It all seemed pretty straightforward.
Shortly thereafter, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away. My overall experience of the festival and the films I saw there, in particular the two he starred in (A Most Wanted Man and God’s Pocket), films that I watched alongside him in the theater, has now changed considerably.
It’s that time of year again. I am very lucky to say I’ll be attending Sundance for the 4th time! Every year I have been able to attend, there have been surprises. Whether it’s a film with an unknown director and cast breaking out, as in Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Kevin Smith picketing his own movie when Red State premiered, and everything in-between, indie movies have the chance to light up Park City with unexpected buzz. New filmmakers and actors have a chance to step into the spotlight, and movies that would otherwise never make it to a wide audience have a chance to obtain distribution, whether that’s through traditional markets or newer markets, such as Netflix.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, inspired by the 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber, tells the story of a bored New York daydreamer who finds himself forced to take on a real-life adventure. Ben Stiller, who also directs this adaptation, plays Walter. He works as a “Negative Assets Manager” at LIFE magazine, and the movie takes place as LIFE closes down its print division and transitions to a digital-only platform.
Kill Your Darlings stars Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Lucien Carr, Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma) as William Burroughs, and Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) as Jack Kerouac. The film examines the lives of these leading figures that spawned the Beat Generation, zeroing in on a murder that entangled them all and left an indelible scar on their movement.
Shane Carruth, best known for writing and directing 2004’s cult classic Primer, returned to Sundance this past year with his sophomore film, Upstream Color. The film stars Carruth as Jeff, and Amy Seimetz (The Killing, You’re Next) as Kris. What’s this movie all about? Well, there’s nature. And, a pig farm. There are worms. There are maggots. There’s a sound guy recording sounds onto vinyl. Kris may have had her identity stolen, but, more importantly, she’s infected by something. Someone hooks her up to a pig, and she finds herself mentally connected to the pig farm. Kris meets Jeff and a quasi-love story evolves. There’s paranoia. Some mind-melding, but the rules of the world are never consistent or really established. This film is about images, not story or meaning.
David Sedaris fans have waited a long time for this moment. Finally, one of his essays has been turned into a feature film. The chosen piece was taken from Sedaris’ 1997 collection of essays, Naked, and was the inspiration for the screenplay (adapted by Kyle Patrick Alvarez). C.O.G. follows Samuel (Jonathan Groff, Glee, Boss), an Ivy league student who’s having an identity crisis, as he leaves his life behind to work on an apple picking farm.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints premiered in January at Sundance 2013. The following Theatrical Premiere took place on Tuesday (August 13th) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The film stars Casey Affleck as Bob Muldoon and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network) as Ruth Guthrie. These childhood sweethearts and partners-in-crime are on the lam, and just as the film begins, Ruth reveals that she is pregnant. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints does not follow a couple’s joyride; it begins as their crime spree comes to a screeching halt.
Fiend by Peter Stenson is, in over-simplified TV terms, Breaking Bad meets The Walking Dead. In St. Paul, Minnesota, two meth heads emerge from seclusion after at least a straight week of binging, and find that the Zombie Apocalypse has happened while they were busy getting high. Chase and his best friend Typewriter embark on a journey to score more drugs, save Chase’s ex-girlfriend, and, simply, survive.
Lovelace is an autobiographical film based on the life of Linda Susan Boreman (January 10, 1949-April 22, 2002), known to the public as Linda Lovelace. Linda Lovelace is most well-known for starring in one of the most successful porno films ever made: Deep Throat. In 1972, Deep Throat had a huge cultural impact, bringing porno films into the mainstream.
The East stars indie darling Brit Marling (Arbitrage, Another Earth) as Sarah, an operative for a private intelligence firm. The firm instructs her to infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists who target major corporations. She locates the group members, who live in an abandoned house in the woods, and she attempts to join them. Each cult member has their own reasons for turning into extremists, which includes Izzy (Ellen Page, Inception, Juno) and the group leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgard, True Blood).