Sundance 09

arlenfaber-1

A straightforward romantic comedy about bringing a know-it-all author to his knee’s, director John Hindman’s first film is surprisingly charming and incredibly well-written. As if we should have expected any less…

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theinformers-1

Every year the Sundance film festival delivers at least one film that I absolutely loathe. Last year it was Downloading Nancy. This year it is The Informers, a self-indulgent, lifeless glamrock drugfest from the mind of Bret Easton Ellis.

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adam-1

If there is one studio that knows how to pick indie winners, it is Fox Searchlight. And they appear to once again be off to a good start by snatching up Max Mayer’s charming and quirky romantic comedy Adam.

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coldsouls-1

A wildly imaginative and ambitious piece of science fiction, Sophie Barthes’ Cold Souls, anchored by a very strong performance from Paul Giamatti, could just be one of the more peculiar, conversation-inducing films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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worldsgreatestdad-1

Seemingly out of nowhere comes one of the most divisive and twisted comedies since Heathers. In Bobcat Goldthwait’s second directorial effort there is no limit to the darkness and consequently, no limit to the laughs to be had.

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Fisticuffs at Sundance!

Noted critic John Anderson got into a heated argument with Jeff “The Dude” Dowd that led to fisticuffs. Turns out, The Dude does not abide, man.

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adventureland-1

Tuesday of this year’s Sundance Film Festival (otherwise known as today) will be forever remembered as the day the 80s made an assault on my critical sensibilities. It all began with Adventureland, a coming of age teen comedy set in the summer of 1987.

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sundance-waiting-header

Up today is a trio of films, all with unique and fresh young voices behind them. By my estimation, they all have a shot at making my “Best of” list at the end of the festival, which is saying quite a lot seeing as this year has been a spectacular one in the snowy mountains of Utah.

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soderbergh-1

It was advertised as “An Evening with Steven Soderbergh,” but we knew the score. He was there to show us a work in progress cut of his latest film The Girlfriend Experience. And so he did…

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winningseason-1

They might as well call the 2009 Sundance Film Festival the year of Sam Rockwell. With the premiere of The Winning Season, from director James C. Strouse (Grace is Gone), Rockwell has solidified his position as one of the clear winners of this year’s fest.

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briefinterviewswithhideousmen-1

One of the things Sundance is known for is its ability to discover and launch new voices in the world of film. After screening his directorial debut, I can say with conviction that John Krasinski is going to be one of those new and unique voices.

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sundance-waiting-header

In an effort to keep pace with all of the movies that I am seeing here at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, I will sometimes resort to capsule reviews. Here are three examples…

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blackdynamite-1

If there is one thing I wish I had learned last year at Sundance, it is that midnight shows are a lot of fun. Last year I made the mistake of avoiding the midnight public screenings, choosing instead to sit in the stuffy press screenings. It just isn’t the same. And this year I’ve learned that the Park City at Midnight selection is more than just a selection of edgy or bloody affairs. It is, at least this year, a series of fantastic film experiences — the types of movies that worked best when served with an energetic, excited crowd. The latest of these selections, and perhaps the most ambitious, is director Scott Sanders’ throwback comedy Black Dynamite. Sexy, campy and downright hilarious, Black Dynamite comes charging in with a fury of action, sex and badass kung-fu. It follows the story of Black Dynamite, played perfectly by Michael Jai White, a legendary hero who finds that his brother has been killed by “the man,” the orphanage that helped raise him is flooded by heroin and the streets of his beloved city are being targeted with a secret weapon disguised as Anaconda Malt Liquor. Fed up and pissed off, Black Dynamite begins recruiting brothers and putting out the warning to all the jive turkeys who’ve been doing wrong — he’s one bad motherf*cker and he’s coming to pimp-slap them all. Expertly towing the line between satire and spoof, Scott Sanders’ film utilizes a wonderfully crafted retro aesthetic and a massive cast […]

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iloveyouphillipmorris-1

Telling the ridiculous, but true story of a man’s journey from married Texas cop to flamboyantly gay prison escape artist wouldn’t be an easy one. But as it turns out, the two man writer/director team behind I Love You Phillip Morris has pulled it off in a way that would make proud the brothers Farrelly and Coen.

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mysteryteam-1

One of my favorite things about attending Sundance is the opportunity to meet and see filmmakers who are genuinely excited to bring their film to the public. Among this year’s entries is Mystery Team, a dark and clever comedy from the Derrick Comedy group, a troupe of comics on the verge of a major breakout.

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500days-1

Since our arrival in the snowy mountains of Utah I, along with many other temporary transplants from around the world, have been puzzled about one thing: the weather. It has been uncharacteristically warm and sunny in Park City, almost to the point of robbing us of that frigidity that makes it feel like Sundance. No one has been able to explain it, not even the weatherman. At least, not until now.

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humpday-1

As I explained in my review yesterday, Humpday is a movie about two heterosexual friends who decide that the best way to express themselves artistically is to have sex on camera, with each other. And now we’ve got a trailer.

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humpday-1

If there is one thing that we can take away from director Lynn Shelton’s awkward sex comedy Humpday, it is that there is nothing more uncomfortable to watch yet strikingly hilarious than two straight men who set out to have sex on camera.

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toetotoe-1

In general, I have a rule about walking out of movies. I just don’t do it. And while writer/director Emily Abt’s melodramatic soap opera Toe to Toe didn’t have me reaching for acid to pour on my face, it will go down as the first film of Sundance 2009 that had me eying both my watch and the exit door.

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rockwell-moon-2

Heading into Moon, the Sam Rockwell led low-budget science fiction film from first time director Duncan Jones, I was both excited and skeptical. It is easy after all, to be skeptical of any low-budget, ambitious science fiction film. Thankfully, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

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