Sundance Spelled Backwards

I’m as good as the next guy at spotting the likely hot tickets at an upcoming Sundance festival, but I’m effing brilliant at missing at least one or two of these films when I actually hit the festival and try to cover it. Old story. Let’s just focus for now on the Sundance 2012 competition films that have that certain “yeah, this might be something” factor. Here’s the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle so far.

U.S. Dramatic Competition (6 picks):

The First Time (Director/screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan) — Two high schoolers meet at a party, discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time, etc. Original! If Jon (son of Lawrence) is anything like his brother Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher), this might be hellish. But a little voice is telling me he’s different…maybe. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.

For Ellen (Director/ screenwriter: So Yong Kim) — Beware of any child-custody-battle drama…unless Paul Dano is starring. Then it’s probably okay. Cast: Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo.

Hello I Must Be Going (Director: Todd Louiso / Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff) — Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak…until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White.

Nobody Walks (Director: Ry Russo-Young / Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

Save the Date (Director: Michael Mohan / Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan) — As her sister Beth prepares to get married, Sarah finds herself caught up in an intense post-breakup rebound. The two fumble through the redefined emotional landscape of modern day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber.

Simon Killer (Director/screenwriter: Antonio Campos) — A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.

U.S. Documentary Competition (3 picks):

The House I Live In (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

The Invisible War (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

ME at the ZOO (Directors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch) — With 270 million hits to date, Chris Crocker, an uncanny young video blogger from small town Tennessee, is considered the Internet’s first rebel folk hero and at the same time one of its most controversial personalities.

World Cinema Dramatic Competition (5 picks):

L (Director: Babis Makridis / Screenwriters: Efthymis Filippou, Babis Makridis) — A man who lives in his car gets caught up in the undeclared war between motorcycle riders and car drivers. Cast: Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Lefteris Mathaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis.

My Brother the Devil (Director/screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Sa√Ød Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed.

Wish You Were Here (Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith / Screenwriters: Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith) — Four friends embark on a carefree holiday, but only three return home. Who knows what happened on that fateful night? Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr.

Wrong (Directo/screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux) — Dolph searches for his lost dog, but through encounters with a nympho pizza-delivery girl, a jogging neighbor seeking the absolute, and a mysterious righter of wrongs, he may eventually lose his mind… and his identity. Cast: Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, Steve Little, William Fichtner.

Young & Wild (Director: Marialy Rivas / Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Guti√©rrez, Pedro Peirano) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodr√≠guez, Aline Kuppenheim, Mar√≠a Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto.

Best HE Comment So Far: “You know, I like all sorts of cinema, but it feels more and more with every passing year there’s increasingly become a ‘Sundance template’ for the kind of movies Redford and Co. choose to showcase at this festival.

“Long gone are the days of an El Mariachi, Reservoir Dogs, or especially a sex, lies, and videotape — of which only the VHS aspect feels dated in this incredibly fresh-feeling flick that’s now over 20 (!) years old — debuting at Park City.

“I’ve never been, so it’s probably bullshit of me to assume this, but doesn’t every Sundance film kinda feel like Tiny Furniture?”

  • Ray

    … is Ecnadnus.

    WHAT DO I WIN???

  • http://www.twitter.com/zacomer Zach Heltzel

    Jon Kasdan’s ‘In the Land of Women’ is really problematic, but it’s an otherwise solid first effort that really should have received more attention when it came out than it did. I’m glad he’s giving it another go.

    One of the three writers of Save the Date, Jeffrey Brown, has written some pretty decent graphic novels. That one should probably be worth seeing too.

  • dino velvet

    Oh boy, that Dramatic Competition is truly an exciting lineup of films about middle-class white people with problems!

  • CitizenKaned4Life

    Another Kasdan? Cue Lex’s stock Hollywood nepotism rant…

    You know, I like all sorts of cinema, but it feels more and more with every passing year there’s increasingly become a “Sundance template” for the kind of movies Redford and Co. choose to showcase at this festival.

    Long gone are the days of an El Mariachi, Reservoir Dogs, or especially a sex, lies, and videotape — of which only the VHS aspect feels dated in this incredibly fresh-feeling flick that’s now over 20 (!) years old — debuting at Park City.

    I’ve never been, so it’s probably bullshit of me to assume this, but doesn’t every Sundance film kinda feel like Tiny Furniture anymore?

    There’s seemingly a lot more edgy, visceral stuff premiering at TIFF these days — what’s up with that?

  • CitizenKaned4Life

    (In other words, what dino said)

  • LexG

    That Kirby Dick movie sounds like a LIBERAL SUCKER PUNCH! Not to sound like John Nolte, but… really, do we need another screed telling us all how bad some smirking documentary filmmaker thinks the U.S. military is? WE GET IT ALREADY.

    On a more positive note:

    Joel Edgerton. Teresa Palmer. YEP TO THE YEP. I hope she’s speaking in her native Australian voice in that… Anyone know more about it?

    IN THE LAND OF WOMEN was a) terrific b) one of K-Stew’s most FETCHING performances and probably the role that paved the way for Bella Swan. Thus that Kasdan kid gets no complaint from me. Wait, what’s wrong with Jake Kasdan either, save for the nepotism rant? He’s made some fun movies and he was a big part of Freaks & Geeks.

  • actionman

    anything from the guy who did Rubber is probably gonna be worth investigating…

  • http://www.twitter.com/zacomer Zach Heltzel

    I thought Bad Teacher was as toxic and unbearable as Wells did, but Jake Kasdan’s ‘Orange County’ and ‘The TV Set’ are both a cut above the average comedy. Zero Effect isn’t bad, either.

  • Gabe@ThePlaylist

    Kasdan’s The TV Set is a borderline CLASSIC. It captures EVERYTHING ridiculous about how pitch meetings and creative “rap” sessions in television work. So many soul-sucking numbers and statistics and back-biting, so much focus-testing garbage, and SO MANY fucking people who don’t know shit about anything.

    Seriously, some of you who hate movie executives need to show up in a broadcast network pitch meeting. A fucking cesspool, a place where all great ideas go to die horribly. The TV Set NAILS this and more, with Duchovny doing a howlingly-accurate Judd Apatow impersonation and just hanging his head as his passion project gets fucking TORPEDOED by Sigourney Weaver. I actually really liked Walk Hard, but The TV Set is by far the best work Kasdan’s done.

    Kind of intrigued by “Simon Killer.” Anotnio Campos’ “Afterschool” was one of the most unsettling movies I’ve seen in the last five years. Very cool that he got Mati Diop from “35 Shots Of Rum” to show up.

    “Me at the Zoo” sounds like a personal hell.

  • Eloi Wrath

    “Seriously, some of you who hate movie executives need to show up in a broadcast network pitch meeting. A fucking cesspool, a place where all great ideas go to die horribly.”

    What was your pitch?

    “So there’s this Latino movie blogger who’s really handsome and awesome and dates really hot chicks and shit…”

  • LexG

    Paul Dano, Jon Heder and Jena Malone in a child-custody drama is SO not the cast or material you expect from a director with the name So Yong Kim.

    I like the idea of this movie where Brady Corbet goes to France and falls in love with a hooker. Wouldn’t he just be getting herpes? There couldn’t CONCEIVABLY be a sex worker on this planet who at the very very least has herpes, but in movies about prostitutes that never comes up.

    I wanna make a Sundance movie about Lex’s Night With A Hooker where I mutter around like that asshole Eric Schaeffer then when my prostitute arrives I tell her I have to put on a Hazmat suit and she has to lie down on a batting circle tarp so I don’t catch anything.

  • Gabe@ThePlaylist

    True story: I pitched the Dog The Bounty Hunter show. I hated myself, I just thought it would be a commercial idea. Somehow, it had been pitched to another studio only a week prior. That was the closest I ever came to working in television. From what I experienced, and from what others have told me, I have dodged a bullet. A fancy, money-coated bullet.

  • Noiresque

    Speaking of Tiny Furniture, I wonder how it got picked up for a Criterion release. It didn’t really catch with people; not even to the extent of something like Greenberg.

  • cyanic

    That Kirby Dick movie sounds like a LIBERAL SUCKER PUNCH! Not to sound like John Nolte, but… really, do we need another screed telling us all how bad some smirking documentary filmmaker thinks the U.S. military is? WE GET IT ALREADY.

    Fuck you. It’s a companion piece to The General’s Daughter.

  • http://www.twitter.com/zacomer Zach Heltzel

    Noiresque,

    It’s because of the deal IFC has with Criterion to release a certain number of their films each year. They typically pick films with an auteurist stamp, and since Lena Dunham wrote, directed, and starred, that certainly counts.

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/criterion_signs_ifc_deal_10_titles_on_tap_so_far

  • Bob Violence

    meanwhile a reliable source said that Certified Copy was rejected by certain Criterion higher-ups because it’s “minor Kiarostami”

    they got some real wizards over there

  • LexG

    GENERAL’S DAUGHTER is one of the greatest movies ever made. Plus the very name “Kirby Dick” bothers me greatly. Is his ACTUAL LAST NAME, HIS FAMILY NAME, really “Dick”? Or is he some hipster asshole who registered that just to be all edgy and in-your-face? Whose last name is DICK? Same question goes for Nigel Dick.

  • berg

    There are 25,415 people in the U.S. with the last name Dick.

    Statistically the 1492nd most popular last name.

    Famous people with the last name Dick:

    Andy Dick

    Nigel Dick

    Philip K. Dick

  • Edward Havens

    There is a documentary about Chris fucking Crocker?

  • http://www.specialityhealth.com/1500-calorie-diet/ manybl

    There is a documentary about Chris fucking Crocker?

    oh dear lol

    take your mind off it and go and read an article about Liquid Diet Weight Loss

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