Sundance 2011 marks my first time at the festival, and the overwhelming task of having the chance to see literally hundreds of films and shorts makes it a daunting and exciting task to look forward to in my first adventure in snow-capped Park City.
Many of these films will only be seen at this one time at the festival and then possibly never again due to various rights, distribution, unseen film politics, or just plain shoddy filmmaking (sad to say). So besides all of that hub-bub, here are the 11 films I can’t wait to see as the year’s festival kicks off from this Thursday, January 20th to the following Sunday of the 30th.
Hobo With A Shotgun
Go for broke and then go for some more actors. Rutger Hauer, looks like he is having a bloody good time as the title character in this faux grindhouse trailer turned feature film. The debut feature of overnight sensation Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener looks to crank up the blast of blood, bullets, and gutter wine to 11. Hobo with a Shotgun looks to be a down and dirty badass 100 percent pure blend of maple syrup filmmaking.
Irish Travelers – called gypsies by some, pikes by others. What looks like a brutal and fascinating documentary, this is 12 years in the making from filmmaker Ian Palmer and follows the family feuds, incense, and bare knuckle boxing that effects the notorious band of European grifters. Knuckle is something to check out for all you fans of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, who wanted more boxing in the barn with those cunning pikes, minus Brad Pitt of course.
Taking place on the Northwestern pioneer trail of 1845, it looks like the Oregon Trail computer game has finally made it to the big screen. Oh wait. This is a follow-up to the quietly soul-crushing Wendy and Lucy. Indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt and Blue Valentine actress Michelle Williams draw attention to subtle details of the time period that involved boiling water over a fire, cleaning muskets, and axle fixings.
I guess will have to wait for another time to see the video game’s high stake stories about snake bites, buffalo hunts, malevolent Natives and little Jimmy’s dysentery. Yet this still looks to be one of the more rustic looking and powerfully complex dramas to come out of Sundance this year.
Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels with A Tribe Called Quest
The blackest, whitest ginger in the movies today, Michael Rapport, looks to show off his skills behind the camera in his directorial debut with Beats, Rhymes, & Life. Following the 20-year span of the seminal alternative rap group, this doc looks to kick up the beat and noise in the traditional Sundance documentary line up. Now let’s just hope Q-Tip will finally agree to accept this documentary as it is and stop tweeting up the hate.
A personal favorite of mine, Paddy Considine and Peter Mullan of Dead Man’s Shoes and Orphans team up with Considine behind the camera in his directorial debut and Mullan in front for this portrait of human violence and redemption. Although this sounds like another gloomy and soggy English drama, the film looks to offer an intense and brutal love story between Mullan and British actress Olivia Coleman. They wonder in pain and soulful desire through the streets of Dublin. The most solid dramatic world entertainment to be found at this year’s festival.
Indie pop filmmaker Gregg Araki is back from the angst of Mysterious Skin to give us another one from The Doom Generation zone, with this teen sex comedy-cum-psychedelic apocalypse flick. A sexually ambivalent college freshman played by Thomas Dekker (All About Evil, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)) is caught between lusting over his testosterone pumped roommate named Thor, a somewhat new girlfriend, eating drug laced baked goods, and dreams of a mysterious dead girl. This film looks like it might literally explode all over itself before we even get to the real climax of the story.
The final five await you…
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I heard stories about these cheap and hilarious underground tape recordings of two San Francisco roommates arguing with one another, often violent and homophobic but always damn hilarious. Well now a filmmaker by the name of Matthew Bate has made a documentary that is sure to bring back nostalgic memories of my friends and I siting around our parent’s tape deck.
Lucky McKee gets a lot of shit thrown at him by horror fans and critic alike but you got to give it to the man – he sure knows how to really get under your skin. See his previous work in May, Master of Horror’s Sick Girl, and the dark comedy RED. With pulp novelist Jack Ketchum’s work as a jumping-off point, McKee looks to make this a match made in the bowels of low-budget horror filmmaking in this upcoming wild and gruesome film.
I Melt with You
The much awaited psychological drama sounds like a more mature and less humorous Very Bad Things (Hey, Melt even has Jeremy “Ari Gold” Piven in a key role), as a group of friends that includes Rob “St. Elmo’s Fire” Lowe, Thomas “Punisher” Jane, and Christian “Orson Wells” McKay go on a weekend filled with drugs, sex, rock n’ roll, and disturbing enlightenment.
Another epic documentary from Steve James (Hoop Dreams), this film follows a series of former gang members that now self-police the streets and neighborhoods in inner city Chicago. The grit, realism, and eclectic storytelling of James’s previous work seems to hit its apex here as the almost-3-hour documentary looks to be one of the toughest and most inspiring at this year’s festival.
Religious horror + horny teens + Micheal Parks+ John Goodman+ Kevin Smith+ DOGMA – Comedy = Most Anticipation at Sundance 2011 this year.
The Son of No One, I Saw the Devil, Cedar Rapids, My Idiot Brother, Higher Ground, Regan, The Black Power Mix Tape, The Lie, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, Homework, Magic Trips, Elite Squad 2, On the Ice, and Martha Marcy May Marlene.
What piques your interest?