Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sundance Picks M-Z

As promised, here continued are my picks from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival:

Dir Diane Bell
Michael Piccirilli, Gaynor Howe
I read the synopsis of this and was immediately excited: a man decides to write an encyclopaedia of all the obsolete things in the world, one of which he believes is love. But as he relates his experiment to a woman he befriends he begins to realise that his take on the obsolete differs greatly from one person to the next. It's unique and quirky takes on life and life's philosophies like this that make me realise that there are still so many more stories to be told in the world, there are still more people who will consider a situation or an event in a completely different way to you, and I appreciate and encourage that. It has a little bit of the Garden State in it as well - a man whose whole look on life is transformed when he meets a woman who introduces him to an insight he wasn't privy to before. Can't wait to see this! Until then I must settle with the understated trailer:

Dir Pipilotti Rist
Ewelina Guzik, Sven Pippig, Sabine Timoteo
I've picked this one just because it looks so extraordinary. You'll need to watch the trailer to fully understand why, and you can see it below (German only, although don't concern yourself with the dialogue, watch the pictures!). The director Rist comes from an artistic background, and that's the form this film takes - it's visually breathtaking, making technicolour seem like the placid magnolia wallpaper choice. The story follows eccentric and playful Pepperminta as she strives to make the rest of the world see the vivid concoctions of colour that she breathes and conjures every day, and to convince them to embrace this way of life. A truly sumptuous piece, this is a cult hit in the making and a film like no other.

Please Give
Dir Nicole Holofcener
Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall
I thought this film sounded interesting with the possibility of creating a really moving tale of unexpected relationships, and the stellar cast really helps matters too. The story focuses on a couple who want to expand their New York apartment by knocking the next door unit in, but they must wait for its 89 year old occupant to die first. It sounds slightly dark and callous, but the film progresses with the couple beginning to equate themselves with their elderly neighbour and her family as well, and as they get to know one another a little more, the original intent for more space is going to no doubt throw up some tricky decisions. I've really come to like Rebecca Hall so her presence here can only be a good thing, too.

                               The Romantics
                               Dir Galt Niederhoffer
Katie Holmes, Josh Duhamel, Anna Paquin, Adam Brody, Malin Ackerman, Elijah Wood, Candice Bergen 

I am so excited about this film that I could just squee! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Because it sounds like the most perfect film ever, ever, ever. In fact I am so excited about this film that I am going to go out and order the book next week just so that I can read it before the film makes it way over here to the UK. Yup, I'm way gone on this one. Why you may ask? Because it has nestled itself into my favourite sub genre of the angsty romance genre I so fawn over - the group of high school/University friends who reunite after several years and reignite old flames of angst and passion. Swoon. This film is set to the backdrop of a wedding, which kind of reminds me of a drama I watched a few years ago called Perfect Day (which I've been trying to track down on DVD for ages now. Rubbish Channel 5!), but obviously this is going to be much smarter, and slicker, and cooler, and just downright more ficcy. The cast for the seven college friends who come together again is unbelievably brilliant with some of the brightest upcoming stars of the next decade showcasing their skills. I'm going to stalk this film like an avid sleep deprived Facebook user, and as soon as I know about the trailer, you will too. Until then, ahoy Waterstones!

Dir Joel Schumacher
Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Kiefer Sutherland
When I read about this film and then saw who the lead protagonist was being played by, I had to laugh! A film about a privileged teenager living on the Upper East Side played by Chase Crawford?! Hee! Let's hope he has a lot more charisma that Nate Archibald does. The story sounds a lot more hard hitting than your average GG melodrama - the school dropout that Crawford plays is thrown into a devastating situation when his cousin is murdered and his best friend is arrested for the crime. If he's got more to show than pretty boy grumpiness then here's the place to show it. The rest of the cast - we'll just glance over the fact a terrible rapper is in it - are very good, and it's a chance for director Joel Schumacher to get his hands on something gritty again. I'm definitely interested to see the reviews for this.

Welcome To The Rileys
Dir Jake Scott
James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo
Another of the big contenders at this year's Sundance, no doubt because it plays host to a much in-demand cast at the moment, and probably for more base reasons as well (people are getting very excited at the prospect of Kristen Stewart playing a hooker and a lapdancer and showing a bit of flesh. I guess after seeing Closer I can acknowledge this as an acceptable preoccupation). This is the first big film to come from music video director Jake Scott and is also surprisingly James Gandolfini's first main role in a film as well since completing the Sopranos (if you discount his little stint as a Wild Thing for Spike Jonze). I'm not massively pumped up for this one, but the idea of grievance testing and trying the very core of who you are really appeals. No trailer, but a clip has found its way out:

Winter's Bone
Dir Debra Granik
Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes
Films that explore and promote new lands - real or fantasy - are thoroughly welcomed in my eyes. I love being transported from my cinema seat in my familiar passive world to a place I've never even been aware of before and then reaching for the atlas or Google maps afterward. This film takes place in the Ozark Mountains, an area of the world I'd never heard of and had to look up (turns out there's a place in the mountainous area called Knob Lick. Those poor, poor souls). The film centres on a teenage girl who is forced to grow up very fast when her wayward father goes missing on bail, and if she doesn't find him the family home will be taken away. After watching the clips (below) the performance by Jennifer Lawrence is sure to be recognised by fellows in the industry - she is impressive and assured. Looking forward to this one.

Others to note:
The Man Next Door - intriguing film from Argentina where an interior designer gets furious over a window
Me Too - a man with Down Syndrome finds love amid a feast of challenges
New Low - a different oddball take on the love triangle
Nuummioq - the first feature film from Greenland sees a dying man take a life defining trip over water
The Perfect Host - two men edge their bets with each other as they play the deceptive game

And that's Sundance for the year! Plenty more on offer though - check out the main website for the full listings including shorts, political features and documentaries. As previously stated, we don't tend to get Sundance released films for quite a while over here (mainly because at this stage many don't even have a US distributor!), but for the ones I've highlighted I'll be keeping a keen eye on their progress in the States and will update on any juicy bits of footage or information right here on culturemouse.

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