Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sundance 2011 Picks A-L

It's my favourite time of year again :-) This is one of my favourite things to research for culturemouse - one day I'll be physically circling these films in the official programme and then going to see them at venues in Park City. One day.

Last year one of my picks, Winter's Bone, won the Grand Jury Prize. Here's hoping amongst the selection I highlight this year there'll be another champion!

You know the drill by now, so off we go...A-L.

Another Earth
Yes, that is Ethan from Lost in the promo still! I had to double check as well! This sounds absolutely fascinating: would you leave a dying world to start again on a duplicate one, even if it meant losing the person you loved? That's essentially the premise of the story from debutante Mike Cahill, who also wrote the script with the film's female lead Brit Marling. I'm hoping for lots of extensional angst and well written words to make me question, shout and cry.

Another Happy Day
This falls into one of those 'emotionally unstable families explode at wedding' categories (Margot At The Wedding, Rachel Getting Married, etc) which I'm all for as I love them - I love the intimacy of the drama and how it's all the more extenuated because it's over one day. This has a very starry cast including Kate Bosworth, Demi Moore, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Barkin (pictured), as the troubled, alienated mother at the centre of it all.


Attenberg
This one attracted me because it's from Greece, and it has that weird, off-kilter, slightly perverse feel about it ala Dogtooth which is one of my favourite foreign films. So I'm hoping this offering from Athina Rachel Tsangari (who helped to produce Dogtooth) is going to be just as excellent. It's similar in tone: a sheltered young woman is forced to learn about sex and death by unconventional means (including an obsession with David Attenborough wildlife documentaries - yes it's going to be that kind of experience).Get a taster from the international trailer below:




Higher Ground
The reason I picked this one is because some parts of the synopsis sound very similar to a book I've just finished reading - American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. Obviously not in terms of actual plot, but more the themes: growing up in 1960s America, a time of change where after school you're not really sure what you should do. It also examines the dissatisfaction you can feel from life if you look for more, and also what happens when you realise you're losing the faith you grew up with. It's also Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, so I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of voice and tone she brings from behind the camera, as well as in front of it.


Homework
Blimey, look how much Freddie Highmore has grown! Are you sure he was the little kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Now he's breaking out into the indies! A quirky high school/coming of age drama where a loner (Highmore) and a popular girl (Emma Roberts, who's looking very Addams Family in the picture left) strike up a friendship with one another after realising they share a common take on the world. Hopefully it will work against the conventions of the normal high school dramedy, and be more grimy chic.


I'm not going to be the first one who asks: why's he wearing such a massive coat?


The Ledge
It's A Long Way Down if it was a film! But thank God it's not that film, because the Nick Hornby book is not a topic you want to get me started on (suppressed grrrs). This however looks like it will take the best bits from the suicidal-people-meeting-on-top-of-a-building premise, and properly explore their lives and the decisions they have made in greater detail than having them run about as a support group. And of course it will draw the audiences for the one question: will they or will they not jump?

Like Crazy
This looks like an adolescent take on Going The Distance, but with extra hormones. Two teenagers meet and start up a passionate relationship, but the girl is forced to move back to her home country of England when her visa runs out. So the long-distance trial has to come into play, and it's going to be far from easy for these lusty, fickle ones. I really like Anton Yelchin (ahem) - I think he'll be tough and broody - and it'll be nice to see Felicity Jones play a more emotional role than the one she's about to portray in Chalet Girl.

Little Birds
It seems like Juno Temple is in everything these days - good for her as she's obviously getting the work, but I'd like to see her play something apart from the bad gal for once. Little Birds is about two young teenagers growing up in a dead-end town, where one of them is content with the life she will inherit and the other is desperate to leave (Temple, of course). An encounter with a group of boys leads them to Los Angeles, and there they discover that while the grass is often greener on the other side, it's not always as well kept. Expect teenage rebellion, cat fights and irrevocable mistakes.


Also look out for The Future, which has the word 'playful' in the synopsis; crazy adulterous Norwegians in Happy, Happy; Susanne Bier premieres her new film In A Better World at the festival; Canadian Oscar hope Incendies; I Saw The Devil is the shocking new film from director Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters); festival globe trotter and all round wackjob Kaboom; an unlikely romance develops in Letters From The Big Man, and no, it's not really a man; and The Lie spins out of control courtesy of Joshua Leonard (yes, Joshua from The Blair Witch Project. He makes films now!)

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