I’ve been to about six different film festivals in my life so far, and the documentary-driven True/False Film Fest—held the last weekend in February in Columbia, Missouri—is far and away my absolute favorite. (Sorry, Sundance; it’s me, not you.) Even though the fest has my nostalgia (it’s held on the campus of my alma mater) and loyalty (my day-job employer sponsors the fest) working in its favor, plentyof other peopleagree that it’s pretty fantastic. And I find it hard to imagine any other future festival-going experience will ever take its place. Why?
Anybody else feeling less and less interested in the annual (movie) race to gold? I’m finding it difficult to get too excited about the Oscars this year. My film brain has moved on, having seen a whole new crop of fascinating flicks at Sundance in January. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the kind of hard-core-homogenous membership (93% while, 76% male) that leads to yawn-inducing predictability. So when the Oscars air next Sunday, I’ll be wrapping up my coverage of the thought-provoking, always-surprising True/False Film Festival instead. In the meantime, I’ll be using the following Best Picture “conversation changers” to keep from nodding off during Oscar discussions. (I’ll add in Philomena and Captain Phillips after I see them.) Try ‘em, and let me know your results!
What I thought:
A thoroughly entertaining period caper flick with incredible performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and the sure-to-shake-up-next-Sunday’s-show Jennifer Lawrence. One of my favorites of the year.
Sadly for my movie-loving heart (but just in time for my quickly weakening immune system), I’m heading home from the Sundance Film Festival 2014. But I had a smashing last day: Sunshine, gifted tickets, readily available soy milk and vegan sandwiches, meeting someone who works for one of my favorite production companies in line, and seeing a former co-worker’s work get a standing ovation. Oh, yes, and there were some very fine films, too. Read below for my last installment of Sundance mini-reviews. I’ll be following up this daily coverage with some after-Sundance posts, including interviews, to-see lists, and more. Thanks so much for being a part of my first Sundance trip and giving me a reason to write every night!
A Most Wanted Man
Rachel McAdams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man.
Director: Anton Corbijn Screenwriters: Andrew Bovell, based on novel by John le Carré Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Daniel Brühl, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Nina Hoss, Grigoriy Dobrygin
It’s my second-to-last day at the Sundance Film Festival, and it was a good one. For starters, I got into every film I tried to (a first for this trip). For second, I enjoyed all three. And for third, I skipped movies tonight and hung out with my housemates and their friends. I definitely felt like I snuck onto the cool kid’s table as I heard about the documentaries they’re finishing up, the film programs they are running, the festivals they are programming, and the films they are shooting. I had such a great time listening to this fascinating crew’s stories. But onto the movies, right?
Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn and Kate Barker-Froyland’s Song One. Photo by John Guleserian.
Director & Screenwriter: Kate Barker-Froyland Starring: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield
Jeremy Pelt and Richie Goods in John Harkrider's All the Beautiful Things. Photo by Brian O'Carroll.
I’ve officially made it through a week in Park City! And I haven’t even caught a cold. (Though I probably sealed my fate with that statement.) Despite failing to get into a couple movies that I really wanted to see today, I still managed to make it to three worth-talking-about films. Reviews below.
All the Beautiful Things
Jeremy Pelt and Richie Goods in John Harkrider’s All the Beautiful Things. Photo by Brian O’Carroll.
Director: John Harkrider Featuring: John Harkrider and Barron Claiborne
Carmen Moore in Sydney Freeland's Drunktown's Finest. Photo by Peter Holland.
The lesson of the day: Talk to film festival volunteers. They’ve seen films, they’ve spent the whole day talking to people about what films they’ve seen, they know everything. My go-to movie info guy in the press & industry tent highly recommended Imperial Dreams, so I jumped on the waitlist for a public screening and booked it to the theater. I was glad I did. Reviews below.
Carmen Moore in Sydney Freeland’s Drunktown’s Finest. Photo by Peter Holland.
Director & Screenwriter: Sydney Freeland Starring: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Frances
Day four began with the holy grail for our 2014 Sundance experience: Actual tickets. You see, our first-timer press passes get us into all Press & Industry screenings…after the veteran outlets go in. Sometimes there aren’t enough spaces left in the screenings we want to see, so we have to stay flexible…and shamelessly ask for stuff. Sarah’s ticket to Young Ones came through the Sundance press office (they allot press tickets to combined press and public screenings at bigger theaters). Her ticket to Land Ho came from the film’s publicist. One of the co-directors happens to be excited about food blogs; that interview is coming tomorrow. And Ali and Sarah’s tickets to I Origins came through a friend-of-a-friend who works at Sundance and knew about a private screening. (Thanks, Jared!) We’re already dreaming about next year, when we’ll hopefully graduate to Big Girl press passes. But for now, we’re having fun rising to the challenge of getting into as many films as possible, given our limitations. It’s a game, and we totally won today. Like the Broncos. Which I am only mentioning because my twin sis is a fan.
Kristen Stewart in Peter Sattler's Camp X-Ray. Photo by Beth Dubber.
Hey everyone! Ali here, with an update on Day 2 of our adventure at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
We began the day with a plan to see 3-4 films, and ended up seeing a grand total of…1 film. The festival has been trying out a new mobile wait list plan this year, and we literally had our thumbs ready to push the buttons the second those wait lists opened for each film. But apparently hundreds of other people had the same idea, which is great for the festival, but didn’t end up making for a full day of movie-going.
Let me say right up front that I liked Her. I really, really did. Please remember this when you get to the crabby part of this review ahead and either get huffy with me or consider skipping seeing it altogether. Promise you’ll remember I like it, OK? OK.
Her is high-concept in the service of actual concepts, and I mean that as a huge compliment. While the robot-girlfriend idea has shown up in pop culture since whenever the idea of robots came about, Her prods, twists and pulls the trope in fresh ways. It uses the set up to explore questions about relationships in the future-modern world: How do we connect? Can love survive change? What defines intimacy? What makes a relationship real?