The Lifeguard

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As a number of box office reports will recognize, this was one of the weirdest weekends ever for new releases. For one thing, a documentary topped the chart for the three-day frame (there’s a chance it won’t win the whole four-day Labor Day weekend, however), and for another thing, a Spanish-language movie in limited release rounded out the top five highest grossing pics. Both of these bettered all other openers, including the action thriller Getaway and the British terrorism thriller Closed Circuit, which debuted Wednesday in a low-end yet still-wide release. It’s certainly the most curious weekend for box office numbers since a Bollywood movie opened in the top ten back in June. The doc at #1 is One Direction: This Is Us, and as far as I’m aware this is only the seventh nonfiction feature to open this high (the others are Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Jackson: This Is It, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and the three Jackass movies — I would maybe count Borat, too, but many people would not), and the first since 2010. To show how bad a weekend this was overall, though, This Is Us debuted at almost half the amount that Justin Bieber: Never Say Never did, but sadly that one was just barely beat (by only a few hundred-k) by the Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It. Still, you can bet we’ll continue getting 3D music doc-busters starring the pop act du jour thanks to this distinction, even […]

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Sundance: The Lifeguard

Editor’s Note: Allison’s review of The Lifeguard originally ran during this week’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited release today. Everyone has those moments when they question where their life is going, but hitting the pause button can end up doing more damage than good. When The Lifeguard‘s Leigh (Kristen Bell), a reporter for the Associated Press, covers a story about a tiger who had been kept in a cramped Manhattan apartment, Leigh’s overly emotional reaction to the scratch marks on the windowsill make it clear Leigh is struggling with her own anxieties about being trapped in a life she did not see for herself. Without a second thought, Leigh hops on a train and returns to her parent’s home in Connecticut, the lush landscape a stark difference to the harsh New York metropolis she is looking to escape.

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Drinking Buddies

As summer begins to wind down (it must be tired, starting in May and all), this week’s new releases are unexpectedly slim and particularly uninspired. Sure, you could go see 2 Guns (and enjoy its first ten or so minutes and then drift off because the rest of it is so reminiscent of the rest of the season’s explosion-heavy comic book-based fare) or The Smurfs 2 (because you have children), and you may even be in a city big enough to see the release of the wonderful The Spectacular Now or the surprisingly solid Europa Report, but otherwise, this is not a good weekend at the movies. So stay home! If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that the movie theater is dead and that the VOD release reigns supreme, and with the current trend of smaller films hitting VOD platforms before making it to the theater, you can even catch something your brick and mortar pals are still waiting to see. So stay couch-bound, order something to eat from the Internet, and lay low with these VOD offerings of note. You’ll be back in the theater next week anyway, when the summer’s last great hope, Elysium, finally arrives on the big screen.

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The Lifeguard

“You have your whole life ahead of you. You don’t know how lucky you are.” Sage words of wisdom from an elderly, 29 year-old Kristen Bell in the new trailer for The Lifeguard, a summer movie about growing up when you’re already supposed to be a fully functional adult. Bell plays Leigh, a big city reporter who realizes that life is turning out to be a little bit harder than she expected. To cope with her depression, she decides to move back in with her parents in suburban Connecticut, sliding back into her high school persona and living life at a standstill to try to remember being happy. Getting back her old summer job as a lifeguard at the local public pool is just the icing on the cake.

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Breathe In

Patterns tend to emerge when it comes to film festival programming – and not just when it comes to actors or filmmakers who return to show their newest works year after year, and not even as it applies to the type of films that always appear to be shoo-ins for the latest outing of a particular festival, but in a microcosmic way that’s unique to a single festival in a single year. Certain types of films end up getting made at the same time, and then they all seem to pop up at the same festival, unofficially turning a festival that’s not thematically arranged into one that features at least a mini version of a thematically grouped fest. This makes the concept sound a bit complicated, so let’s put it simply – it’s surprising how many films that address the same themes and tones and topics end up at the same festival at the same time, but it also happens all the time. (Anyone care to remember Sundance 2011, which featured a spat of cult-centric films?) At this year’s Sundance Film Festival another thematic pattern between new narrative films showed its face early, and it’s one that I grappled with way back then and still think about even now. Yesterday’s release of the trailer for the Kristen Bell-starring The Lifeguard only served to remind just how much the narrative features at Sundance 2013 were abnormally preoccupied with inappropriate relationships (yes, we’re talking the sexy kind of relationship), not just in […]

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Hand stamps

I should have known it was coming on Sunday, when a perfectly attractive young lady who was sitting next to me on a Sundance Film Festival shuttle loudly huffed to a pal sitting behind us, “I haven’t even kissed anyone in a year! I just need to make out with someone tonight. Anyone!” Her sentiments were matched by just about everyone else on Day 5 of the Sundance Film Festival, as I witnessed high school dance-style bump and grind dancing at a swank party at the Grey Goose Lounge, a drunk man on Main St. screaming at a cab driver that he knew that the cab driver won’t pick him because he wanted to have sex with him (surely, sir, it could have nothing to do with the fact that you’re drunk and screaming in the middle of Main St. at two in the morning), and another taxi passenger asking random strangers if they had hookers or blow. Everyone at Sundance has gone mad and sex-obsessed and insane. Me? I was just tired.

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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.

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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.

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If you’ve ever wanted to see Kristen Bell get it on with a teen delinquent, have we got a project for you. Deadline Denver reports that Bell will star in Liz W. Garcia‘s The Lifeguard, which centers on “a reporter on the verge of 30 who abandons her life in New York City, returns home to get her high school job as a lifeguard, and starts a dangerous relationship with a 16-year-old delinquent.” Oh, yeah! The Lifeguard sounds a bit like the soon-to-be-released Hello I Must Be Going, but considering how often audiences are subjected to films about older men going through quarter- and mid-life crises that involve a relationship with a younger lady, seeing the story flipped to be female-centric is a nice change. The film will also star Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr, Alex Shaffer, Joshua Harto, and Amy Madigan. While none of their roles have been specified, that’s a pretty solid supporting cast, so The Lifeguard already sounds significantly more swim-y than sink-y. We’ll also hazard a guess that perhaps Shaffer (Win Win) will play the delinquent teen, as he’s the youngest cast member named here, and while he’s nineteen years old, he has a young enough face for the role.

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