Sundance Film Festival

Dear White People

The Sundance Film Festival may serve as a solid proving ground for wrenching dramas about to break into the big time – think Winter’s Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Fruitvale, and that’s just top-of-head, recent memory stuff – but the January fest also provides a venue for some very funny comedies with big star power and fresh ideas to bolster them. Sure, it’s easy to find plenty of tearjerkers in the festival’s stacked program, but lots of comedic talents also bring some lighter fare to the festival each year. Yet, that doesn’t always mean that what makes audiences giggle in Park City will translate to a mainstream crowd some months down the road – so here’s hoping that the latest satirical comedy hit from this year’s Sundance will win over bigger crowds when it hits theaters later this year. This year’s Special Jury Award winner for Breakthrough Talent, Justin Simien’s hilarious and very well-received Dear White People, has just been picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, with the distribution duo planning to release the satire later this year.

read more...

Sundance

There’s no shortage of film-related projects stumping for cash on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but come winter, there’s always a special smattering of films looking for fundage on the site, and for one simple reason – they’ve been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and they need financial assistance to facilitate that dream. It certainly sounds strange to those who associate Sundance with recognizable stars and gifting suites, but for all the “Hollywood Goes to the Snow” coverage and buzz the festival pulls in, there are still a bevy of struggling filmmakers who genuinely need help to get to Park City to see their film screen. In an ideal situation, crowdfunding exists to help creative minds craft works that they could not afford on their own (or, as is the case with many projects, work that they pointedly do not want to be privately funded by a big studio, business, or bank) thanks to the support of interested consumers (are you likely to donate to a stranger’s project if you don’t want to somehow enjoy it yourself?). Sundance, for all its glitz and glamour and big parties and big names, still ostensibly exists to serve the independent film community. As such, this year’s festival boasts a number of buzzed-about selections that turned (and, in some cases, are still turning) to the good-hearted people of the Internet to gather some scratch. So just who is that going to pay off for?

read more...

Sundance

Every film festival has its own identity, tastes, and most favored talents and – you know what? – the Sundance Film Festival is no different. The Park City, Utah-set film festival kicks off every January in high style (read: lots of flannel), the kind that includes lots of recognizable stars, brand new talents, and more than a handful of films that sound almost perfectly “Sundance-y.” While the overarching themes of each Sundance tend to make themselves crystal clear during the festival itself (we still fondly remember 2011, the year of the cults), we can at least mine each film’s official synopsis for some clues as to what we can expect to experience come 2014. Here’s a safe bet – as always, there will be plenty of “unlikely friendships.” With yesterday’s announcement of the Premiere and Documentary Premiere titles, we’re just about done finding out what we can expect to find in Park City’s various theater come next month (we say “just about,” because there are always a few titles that trickle in over the coming weeks). These glitzy picks join the already-announced in-competition titles (dramatic and doc, U.S. and world), along with Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, Sundance Kids, and Next picks, proving that sometimes a section title is just that, because damn if we can’t already draw some connections in this admirably deep selection.

read more...

John_Dies_At_The_End

Editor’s note: John Dies At The End is now playing in limited theatrical release, so let’s flash back exactly one year to look at Allison’s Sundance review, originally published on January 26, 2012. We all know what it means to be sauced, but John Dies At The End shows audiences what it means to be “on the sauce” – soy sauce that is, a hallucinogenic drug that not only messes with your mind, it messes with how you perceive time. This idea could be fun, but when you know one of your best friends meets his demise somewhere in that disjointed timeline (no spoilers there, as it’s revealed in the film’s title) this time manipulation becomes both stressful and confusing. While at a party, Dave (Chase Williamson) gets into a conversation with a reggae “magician” (Tai Bennett) who Dave doesn’t believe can do real magic. But when Robert Marley (the magician’s name, of course) is able to recount, in vivid detail, a dream Dave had the night before, he gets Dave’s attention. Later that night Dave gets a call from his best friend, a panicked and confused-sounding John (Rob Mayes), who thinks he has called Dave a bunch of times already that night and needs him to come over right away.

read more...

Snow in Park City

It was bound to happen. On Day 723 of the Sundance Film Festival (really, just Day 8, but it feels like we’ve been here for years), it snowed. Sundance is, after all, located in a ski town, so frozen precipitation falling from the sky is a thing that is known to happen, but snow during Sundance really does change the landscape of the festival. Everything instantly feels a bit more miserable and, suddenly, trooping through snowdrifts to see yet another film feels like the biggest chore in the world. But it really is the best chore, and when you’re about to troop through snowdrifts to finally (finally) see one of the festival’s instantly-beloved premieres, The Spectacular Now, it really doesn’t feel so bad.

read more...

Sound City Movie

There are many legends that surround the music industry, but Sound City was an actual place that embodied a mythology. Located in Van Nuys, California (i.e. the Valley, i.e. this is when you groan), Sound City was an outdated dump that refused to let the digital revolution through its front doors, but bands continued to seek it out because of two reasons: the staff that welcomed you in like you were one of their own, and the Neve console. The beautiful board that lived at Sound City was custom ordered and gave the studio its signature sound – a perfect distribution that made even distortion sound good. But it was not that this board was magical or that the studio was designed to create this effect (it ironically was not designed at all, just lucked out on having such good acoustics), it was thanks to the “magic” of analog recording which provides a warmth that digital is not yet able to duplicate. Dave Grohl‘s documentary Sound City is certainly a story about the studio and all the artists that recorded there, but that story focuses truly on this board and the one-of-a-kind sound it was able deliver.

read more...

It Felt Like Love

When you are young, summer is supposed to be a fun, laid back time where there are no classes to get up for and no homework to complete, but it can also teeter on boring with long days that can drag when there is little to do. Lila (Gina Piersanti), who we meet staring out at the expanse of the ocean, is spending the summer at the beach with her friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni), and Chiara’s boyfriend Patrick (Jesse Cordasco), making Lila the de facto third wheel. At first it seems like Lila does not mind and prefers to simply observe her friend, never giving the impression she is jealous when she is often left sitting on the beach alone while Chiara and Patrick play in the surf. But that all changes when Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein) walks by and her focus shifts.

read more...

Escape from Tomorrow

The Disney theme parks are dubbed the “happiest place on earth” for a reason – they bring to life the fantasy of Disney’s movies and the fairy tale characters that populate them. While the parks are clearly geared towards children, they also give adults the chance to “be a kid again” and get lost in the fantasy themselves. Jim (Roy Abramsohn) has taken his wife Emily (Elena Schuber), daughter Sarah (Katelynn Rodriguez), and son Elliot (Jack Dalton) on a family vacation to Disney World, but on the last day of this seemingly idyllic trip, Jim gets a disappointing call from his boss (which he decides to keep secret from his family) and it seems to send him into a bit of a tailspin as the day wears on.

read more...

BI_SudanceStill

People will hate Drake Doremus’s Breathe In. They will walk out of the theater and be sad and confused and maybe even (probably, really, more than anything) angry. They will hate it because they will hate the characters that exist inside of the film, and they will hate it because they make them mad, and they will hate it because it is not Like Crazy 2. And that’s okay, because while Breathe In will elicit all these emotions (and, quite likely, more), it is an immensely accomplished and measured film, an assured follow-up to Doremus’s other Sundance hit, 2011’s Like Crazy, and even more assured because it is not like Like Crazy, not at all, and that is something to marvel at. While Doremus and his co-screenwriter, Ben York Jones, turned their eyes on a couple that should be together in Like Crazy, when it comes to Breathe In, they go in the complete opposite direction, to a couple that should, by no means, be together. And while we all know that as every minute of Breathe In steadily ticks by, they don’t know that (or, at least, they refuse to believe that), and the result is car crash cinema done right. You can’t look away. But you can’t cheer for it in the slightest.

read more...

park city cloudy

My first full day of my very first Sundance was yesterday, and I’m already tired. Sadly, there were no obese snorers for me to kick like there was during my first movie on Saturday (he did not appreciate it), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been witnessing some other sad behaviors. But let’s look at the good stuff first…

read more...

UntitledEaglesDocumentary_still3_

History of the Eagles, Part One starts off with backstage footage of the band before a concert in 1977 as they warm up in perfect harmony, reminding you from the forefront there is a reason this band was as successful as it was, for as long as it was — this group had a distinct and catchy sound. On the heels of one of the Eagles’ founders, Glenn Frey, stating, “We made it, and it ate us,” the film flashes forward to present day as key members of the band, in all its different incarnations, reminisce on their time as members of the Eagles. The origin story of the Eagles is not unlike most band origin stories, with Frey and fellow founding member Don Henley each getting into music with the hopes that it would get them girls (particularly after watching girls’ reactions to The Beatles). With Frey hailing from Detroit and Henley from Texas, the two eventually made their separate ways out to Los Angeles and became part of Linda Rondstadt‘s backing band. The experience of performing every night had Rondstadt’s people hoping to make a “super band” to back their singer, but Frey and Henley had a different idea and decided to start their own band instead, forming what would eventually become the Eagles.

read more...

Egyptian Theatre

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, our own Kate Erbland highlights one of the main Sundance Film Festival venues in anticipation of her return to Park City this week. Her comments are those quoted. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. Name: The Egyptian Theatre Location: 328 Main Street, Park City, Utah. Opened: Christmas Eve, 1926, as The Egyptian Theatre. It replaced the historic Dewey Theater, the roof of which had caved in from a heavy snow. Now officially known as the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre. No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: None. Repertory programming: None, except in the case that Sundance would screen a classic film here. Special Events: When it’s not Sundance season, the Egyptian is primarily a live performance venue, featuring concerts and stage productions as well as hosting a youth theater group. Upcoming events include a Canned Heat concert, a Michael Jackson tribute band and a run of Reefer Madness the Musical. Basically, the Sundance Film Festival is their most special event. 

read more...

sundance survival kit

Whenever Sundance begins again and I prepare to head back to Park City, one word comes to my mind: early. Because every time I have headed off to the snowy mountains that surround this festival, I find myself — and I know many others do as well — setting my alarm for the wee hours to get up, get to the airport, and get to the festival with hopes of making the most of those precious few hours left in the day by the time I arrive. This is especially true for me, as I usually get in on the official third day of the festival and screenings are well under way. But the second I’m here, that early wake up call is a distant memory and it feels like I’m back in a home away from home (granted this home is a bit colder and I have to be even more careful not to slip and fall while walking), getting back into the festival swing of things.

read more...

Sundance Day 1

“The plane is overfueled for such a short flight, so we’re too heavy to take off right now, so we’re going to drain some fuel and bring up some baggage from underneath to redistribute what we’ve got.” These are not the words that any sane person wants to hear on any sort of flight, especially on a plane so small that the one flight attendant has to sit on a jump seat that, by all accounts, unfolds straight off the cockpit door (does that seem safe to you? it doesn’t seem safe to me) or on a plane so small that drink service is limited to only five Coca-Cola products (no booze) or even on a plane so small that the one bathroom is enclosed by a folding door that accordions in (no room to even open up a door completely on this flight). And no person who is headed to her fourth Sundance wants to hear those words from a tense-looking flight attendant who mutters to the gate agent who has somehow popped up inside the front galley, “How many children are on the flight? Are there any babies?” Do the babies know something we don’t know? I would very much like to get to Sundance, tonight if possible, but I am not entirely sure that I want to die in the process. And that’s how my fourth Sundance kicked off.

read more...

S-VHS

What the hell is that? And that, horror fans, is the best way to leave your audience salivating for more when it comes to premiering a first trailer for the newest entry in your burgeoning horror anthology film franchise. Over at ShockTillYouDrop, the first trailer for S-VHS has popped up mere days before the film premieres at this week’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a slim little number, but it kicks off with a slice of what I’m guessing might be my favorite section from the new film – a child’s birthday party at what looks to be a family’s cabin in the woods, interrupted by something that likes to screech like a combination banshee and T.Rex. Banshrex. T.Shee. Either way, I can’t wait to meet it. This time around, the directing talent behind the anthology film includes Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, and Jason Eisener, so yes, there’s probably going to be something here for everyone. I saw and reviewed the first VHS at last year’s Sundance and flipped for it (and screamed and cried and tried to hide in my sweater and scarf to no avail), so my hopes are quite high for this next entry. Ready to see some of what the next chapter in the VHS franchise holds? Take a look at the first trailer for S-VHS after the break. Have your sweaters and scarves at the ready.

read more...

The East

With the year’s first large scale film fest, the Sundance Film Festival, kicking off later this week, it’s high time that we started making some predictions about some of the films that are most likely to explode off the screen up in snowy Park City. Every Sundance (and, really, every major film festival) churns out its darlings, its favorites, its gems, those films that take weary festival-loving audiences by storm and become not only the talk of the festival, but the talk of the cinematic world. Of course, anyone who has ever attended even a massive festival like Sundance knows that festival buzz doesn’t exactly spell out mainstream success, but it’s sure as hell a nice place to start. While our intrepid Sundance team – myself, Allison, and Rob – have already weighed in our individual “most anticipated” films of the festival, those personal picks don’t cover the full gamut of films poised to become the big ticket films at this year’s festival. Here’s our attempt to sniff those babies out. After the break, check out the fifteen films we’re banking on to light up this year’s Sundance.

read more...

Prince Avalanche

Expectations? This is my first Sundance Film Festival, so the only things I know I’ll encounter are movies, cold snow, overpriced sandwiches, and familiar faces. It should be a great time provided the movies are good, the snow is outside my boots, the sandwiches are tasty and the faces are friendly. Prepare for some very disgruntled tweets otherwise. Looking through the list of titles playing Sundance this year, I tallied a whopping thirty-eight films that I want to see. Kate Erbland said that made her too nervous, presumably because it’s so close to her age (something she’s very conscious of, EDIT: not even close, Hunter!), so she asked me to drop it to a more youthful number. It wasn’t easy to do, but through a complicated series of algorithms and drinking games, I knocked off twenty-eight. What remains are my ten most anticipated films of Sundance 2013! Read them, and be as excited as I am at the prospect of maybe getting in to see them!

read more...

C.O.G.

Film festival scheduling is a delicate art, a precarious balance of needs and desires, a rigorous exercise in making puzzle pieces fit. It’s hard, is what I’m saying, and it’s harder still when a fest’s programming is rounded out with so many films that sound so good – like this year’s Sundance Film Festival slate. As the fest rolled out their picks late last year, I’d spend whole mornings squealing over their listings, getting jazzed weeks in advance for films I hoped I’d be able to see. After all that, I’ve narrowed down my picks to ten films I cannot wait to see, a list that includes some Sundance favorites, some returning stars, Canada’s best film of the year, a possible break-out hit or two, and even a doc about mountain climbing, because those are just the sorts of films I wait all year to see at Sundance. Take a look at the ten films I’m most likely to shiv someone in order to see, after the break.

read more...

Mud

The prospect of heading back to the snowy mountain that houses the Sundance Film Festival brings up many questions – is my jacket warm enough? Do I have boots with good traction so I do not slip on the ice? Will I be able to use my iPhone with gloves on? But beyond these basic survival questions, the one major question is: what films do I want to see? The Sundance lineup gets increasingly more impressive with each passing year and the festival program for 2013 certainly lives up to that standard. After putting together the puzzle that is a festival schedule (a task not for the faint of heart) I am genuinely looking forward to all the films on my list, but these are the ten films I am most looking forward to plopping down in a (hopefully) warm theater to watch. Stay tuned to FSR for my reviews and see if these films end up being ones that should be added to your own “must-see” lists for the year.

read more...

West_of_Memphis

Editor’s note: Nearly a year after premiering at Sundance, Amy Berg’s West of Memphis hit limited release this week. The following is a re-run of our Sundance review, originally published on January 29, 2012. At Sundance, the film notably included interviews that had been completed mere days before its festival bow. As such, the final product now appearing in theaters is slightly modified from the Sundance version, with more interviews and tighter editing. Not to worry, however, as our faithful Associate Editor Kate Erbland watched the film again, in its final form, and this review remains as applicable as it did in January. When Amy Berg‘s West of Memphis held its first Sundance screening on only the second day of the festival, audience members walked out stunned – not just because of the film’s emotional material, its often graphic crime scenes and autopsy photos and videos, or even because of how it squarely points to a singular perpetrator (one who is, of course, not part of the West Memphis 3), but because the film was undeniably fresh. So fresh, in fact, that two interviews that pop up in the film’s final third both came complete with a time stamp that indicated that they had been conducted the week before the film bowed at the fest – eight days before its opening. While the West Memphis 3 (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley) were freed in August of last year, their nearly twenty-year ordeal remains almost frighteningly of the moment.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 04.16.2014
B+
published: 04.16.2014
C-
published: 04.16.2014
B-
published: 04.14.2014
B

Listen to Junkfood Cinema
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
SXSW 2014
Game of Thrones reviews
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3