Ed Burns

Christopher Nolan at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the largest independent fests in the country, but it probably has the best reputation for launching filmmaking careers and being the only thing in January that will be remembered around Oscar time 13 months later. It’s debatable just how “indie” it is — especially with studio shingles routinely picking up audience favorites for distribution — but it’s difficult to deny the raw directorial power that’s moved through Park City over the years. Names like Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, The Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh can count themselves amongst the Sundance ranks, but there are many, many more. In that (independent) spirit, here’s a double-size list of tips (for fans and filmmakers alike) from 12 directors who made a name at Sundance.

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Alex Cross Tyler Perry Matthew Fox

You’d think a thriller about a brilliantly dogged detective matching wits with a sadistically smart serial killer would be at least somewhat entertaining. You’d be right in thinking that too, and if that’s the kind of film you’re looking for I recommend Memories of Murder, Copycat or Seven to fill your needs. Because there’s nothing about the new film Alex Cross that comes even close to brilliant, smart or intentionally entertaining. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a homicide detective and doctor (of some kind but probably a psychologist) in Detroit who’s grown weary of his police beat and is considering taking an adviser role with the FBI. Before he can convince his pregnant wife that the move to Washington DC is in their best interest he’s tasked with solving a multiple murder with a tortured woman at its center. Cross’ team includes his childhood friend, Det. Tommy Kane (Ed Burns), and the young but talented Det. Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), and their target is a determined and very capable killer whose name changes with the turn of the script’s page. Picasso aka the Four Roses Killer aka Cadillac spokesperson (Matthew Fox) is targeting high-ranking executives, but after he’s almost caught during an attempted hit he turns his focus towards Cross and friends. It doesn’t take long before you’ll start wishing him the best of luck.

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Video Game High School

The absolute, must-read article of the week is “Disrupted: Indie Filmmakers” from Brian Newman at Sub-Genre . The week isn’t over yet, but the article that shows how popularity on YouTube has sidestepped the traditional indie film festival track will be tough to beat. It may sound a bit counter-intuitive because videos that get millions of views on YouTube are How To Videos and shots of cats wearing monocles and stuff, but there are a handful of popular users that are translating a massive subscriber list (and an even bigger amount of views) into funding through KickStarter (the above image comes from Video Game High School) and IndieGoGo to raise funds for more projects. Meanwhile, filmmakers trying to find funding are still going through festivals like Sundance and, often, falling short. It’s a fascinating theory because it seems plausible. It might not make immediate sense that making mash-ups and quirky spoofs could lead to big screen bliss, but all the elements are there.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr tapes some alcohol bottles to his knuckles and gets ready to brawl with wolves. Unfortunately, he first drinks all the booze in the bottles and ends up passing out in the snow. When he wakes up, he brushes himself off and heads downtown to climb on the ledge of a tall building. The police are called to try and save him, but Kevin ends up jumping when he learns that Katherine Heigl is brought in to talk him down. Fortunately, Kevin survives the fall and stumbles to the local multiplex to check out this week’s new movies.

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Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises

What is Movie News After Dark? … um, it’s about movies. And it takes place after the sun goes down. We begin this evening with another new image from The Dark Knight Rises, one of several that worked their way onto the web today thanks to Entertainment Weekly. Unlike all the previously interesting shots from the film, this one does not involve Bane. It’s Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) standing in front of the bat-suit. I love that bat-suit.

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Once again utilizing his low budget sensibilities and a few friendly faces, writer/director/producer/actor Ed Burns has crafted an impressive adult dramedy that feels blissfully familiar (and awkwardly familial). Newlyweds is a semi-documentary style film that relies almost solely on the talents of its cast – a true ensemble made up of Burns as Buzzy, the cocksure fitness instructor on his second marriage; Caitlin Fitzgerald as his sweetly sarcastic wife Katie; Kerry Bishé (seen above) as his self-destructive sister Linda; Marsha Dietlein as his opinionated sister-in-law Marsha; and Max Baker as Marsha’s perverted old husband (in his second outing as a character named Max for an Ed Burns film). Buzzy and Katie are the kind of couple you want to be best friends with. They’re pragmatic and funny, obviously looking at life through the sober and absurd lens that their first marriages afforded them. They are tonal opposites of Marsha and Max whose 18 years together have given them emotional crow’s feet and an aggressive bitterness that doesn’t make them flinch when it starts gnashing its teeth in public. They could be representations of different stages and styles of relationships as a means to put on display the human fragility of latching yourself on to another human being for “the rest of your life.” Or, you know, they could just be real people. Which is more likely.

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In our first show of the 2012 season, we set off the filmmaking fireworks by finding out why Innkeepers director Ti West doesn’t believe in spooks, and by talking to indie icon Ed Burns about the twitter revolution, his $9,000 budget, and his new must-see movie Newlyweds. Plus, Neil Miller stops by to dangle the hope and potential of 2012′s most anticipated movies over our noses. Will he say the movie you’re thinking of and validate his opinion to you, or will he neglect it, making everything he says in the future suspect? Be prepared to find out a metric ton about movies and their makers, because it’s our third season, and we’re only getting started. Download This Episode

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Alex Cross is a reoccurring character in the novels of James Patterson. His stories have already been adapted for the screen a couple times with Morgan Freeman playing the lead role. Those films were Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Well now the character is looking to get a reboot with Tyler Perry as the lead. It’s old news that I, Alex Cross is being directed by xXx and The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen, but there is some new casting news to report. Mathew Fox has signed on in a key role as an assassin. Add to that the fact that Ed Burns is going to play Cross’ assistant Tommy Kane, and this looks like a movie that is starting to come together. But I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think a lot of people have been trained to see Tyler Perry’s name and treat it as a joke, but he’s made some things that are more dramatic than those cheesy black family sitcoms and cross dressing Madea movies that he is known for. And I saw him act in Star Trek and it wasn’t bad. Rob Cohen’s movies I can’t really defend, but they’ve managed to make a lot of money from what I can tell. Still, just give me those two names and I, Alex Cross sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

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This is a contest for Ed Burns fans only. So if that includes you, you’re in for a great bit of luck because this prize pack is stacked. In support of the DVD release of Nice Guy Johnny, written and directed by Ed Burns, we’ve got a few items signed by the talented Burns, a copy of the movie, and a copy of the soundtrack. What more could you ask for? I hope nothing, because that is the extent of the prize pack. Click on in to take a look at the trailer, read about the film, and read once again how awesome this prize pack is, then just make us laugh or feel an awkward sensation in our loins to take it all home with you.

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Is it any surprise to anyone in the world that the only film to get a brand new wide release on the first weekend of the year is a stinker?

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