The Sundance Film Festival made their final feature film line-ups with the Premieres category announcements. Sixteen films with huge name talent, returnee filmmakers and plenty of buyer interest/and future all night wheeling, and dealing.
After breaking out in Park City with The Guard, John Michael McDonagh returns (alongside actor Brendan Gleeson) the much anticipated Calvary. Mike Cahill (alongside actress Brit Marling) returns with more sci-fi terrain with, I Origins. Jake Paltrow who managed to sink instead of swim with The Good Night, was again surfaces with Young Ones. And this was unexpected, but Jordan Vogt-Roberts makes it back to back years with Toy’s House (The Kings of Summer) re-teams with Nick Offerman for Nick Offerman: American Ham (which is more concert-comedy film than narrative feature).
Not surprisingly, as predicted in 4 out of the 5, Park City veterans Gregg Araki, Michael Winterbottom, Ira Sachs and Lynn Shelton all return with their latest product, and actor William H. Macy moves behind the camera and secures the closing night slot with his debut feature.
Of the big surprise announcements, distinctly European auteurs who will surely be headed to Berlin right after Park City include Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices Inside, Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, and I think it’s a safe bet that Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2 will follow the same route. Finally, the odd duckling of the set of 16 might be Sara Colangelo’s directorial debut. Little Accidents (pictured above Elizabeth Banks and Boyd Holbrook) which was not programmed in the U.S. Dramatic Comp, is one of those “break-out”, buzz titles in the making.
Calvary / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: John Michael McDonagh) — Calvary is a blackly comedic drama about a priest tormented by his community. Father James is a good man intent on making the world a better place. When his life is threatened one day during confession, he finds he has to battle the dark forces closing in around him. Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Marie-Josée Croz.
Frank / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Lenny Abrahamson, Screenwriters: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan) — Frank is an offbeat comedy about a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant garde rock band led by the enigmatic Frank—a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy.
Hits / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Cross) — A small town in upstate New York is populated by people who wallow in unrealistic expectations. There, fame, delusion, earnestness, and recklessness meet, shake hands, and disrupt the lives around them. Cast: Meredith Hagner, Matt Walsh, James Adomian, Derek Waters, Wyatt Cenac, Jake Cherry.
I Origins / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mike Cahill) — A molecular biologist and his lab partner uncover startling evidence that could fundamentally change society as we know it and cause them to question their once-certain beliefs in science and spirituality. Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi.
Laggies / U.S.A. (Director: Lynn Shelton, Screenwriter: Andrea Seigel) — Laggies is a coming of age story about a 28-year-old woman stuck in permanent adolescence. Unable to find her career calling, still hanging out with the same friends, and living with her high school boyfriend, Megan must finally navigate her own future when an unexpected marriage proposal sends her into a panic. Cast: Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ellie Kemper, Jeff Garlin, Mark Webber.
Little Accidents / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sara Colangelo) — In a small American coal town living in the shadow of a recent mining accident, the disappearance of a teenage boy draws three people together—a surviving miner, the lonely wife of a mine executive, and a local boy—in a web of secrets. Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloë Sevigny, Jacob Lofland, Josh Lucas.
Love is Strange / U.S.A. (Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias) — After 39 years together, Ben and George finally tie the knot, but George loses his job as a result, and the newlyweds must sell their New York apartment and live apart, relying on friends and family to make ends meet. Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan, Cheyenne Jackson, Marisa Tomei.
A Most Wanted Man / Germany, U.S.A. (Director: Anton Corbijn, Screenwriter: Andrew Bovell) — Based on John le Carré’s bestselling book, Anton Corbijn directs this modern-day thriller with Academy Award–winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, and two-time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe headlining an ensemble cast. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe.
Nick Offerman: American Ham / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Screenwriter: Nick Offerman) — WARNING: MINOR NUDITY AND NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS. This live taping of Nick Offerman’s hilarious one-man show at New York’s historic Town Hall theater features a collection of anecdotes, songs, and woodworking/oral sex techniques. The routine includes Offerman’s 10 tips for living a more prosperous life, so hearken well. Cast: Nick Offerman.
The Raid 2 / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Gareth Evans) — Picking up where the first film left off, The Raid 2 follows Rama as he goes undercover and infiltrates the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate in order to protect his family and expose the corruption in his own police force. Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad.
Rudderless / U.S.A. (Director: William H. Macy, Screenwriters: Casey Twenter, Jeff Robison, William H. Macy) — When a grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles upon a box of his deceased son’s original music, he forms a rock ‘n’ roll band, which changes his life. Cast: Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Felicity Huffman, Selena Gomez, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy. CLOSING NIGHT FILM
They Came Together / U.S.A. (Director: David Wain, Screenwriters: Michael Showalter, David Wain) — This subversion/spoof/deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre has a vaguely, but not overtly, Jewish leading man, a klutzy, but adorable, leading lady, and New York City itself as another character in the story. Cast: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Ed Helms, Cobie Smulders, Max Greenfield, Christopher Meloni.
The Trip to Italy / United Kingdom (Director: Michael Winterbottom, Screenwriters: Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, Michael Winterbottom) — Michael Winterbottom reunites Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for more delectable food, some sharp-elbowed rivalry, and plenty of laughs. Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon.
The Voices Inside / U.S.A., Germany (Director: Marjane Satrapi, Screenwriter: Michael Perry) — This genre-bending tale centers around Jerry Hickfang, a lovable but disturbed factory worker who yearns for attention from a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden, murderous turn, Jerry’s evil talking cat and benevolent talking dog lead him down a fantastical path where he ultimately finds salvation. Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver.
White Bird in a Blizzard / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gregg Araki) — Based on the acclaimed novel by Laura Kasischke, White Bird in a Blizzard tells the story of Kat Connors, a young woman whose life is turned upside down by the sudden disappearance of her beautiful, enigmatic mother. Cast: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane.
Young Ones / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jake Paltrow) — When a series of events is set into motion, altering his young life forever, Jerome is forced to make choices that no child should ever have to make. Cast: Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Eric Lavallée is the founder, editor-in-chief and film critic at IONCINEMA.com (founded in 2000). Eric splits his time between his home base in Montreal, NYC, and is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs:
Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Coen Bros. (Fargo), Dardennes (La Promesse), Haneke (Caché), Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times), Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry), Lynch (Mulholland Dr.), Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), von Trier (Breaking the Waves)