Film.com Staff January 28, 2013
All hail mighty Sundance, the King of the Film Festivals (really, tell us one that’s bigger, at least in America), that annual gathering where movie stars, journalists, Park City locals and even Paris Hilton join together to check out what Robert Redford considers the year’s best independent films.
Sundance 2013 has been called one of the best fests in years as it features terrific new works by such renowned directors as Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight”), Shane Carruth (“Upstream Color”), David Gordon Green (“Prince Avalanche”) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Don Jon’s Addiction”) as well as some stunning premieres by first-time filmmakers … and a lot of pretty amazing films that fall somewhere in-between.
We had a crack team of critics on site trying to catch as many of the 200+ films screening at this year’s festival as possible. Here are the Sundance scoops …
“Sound City”: B-
Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s B-sides documentary is a little too slick for its subject matter but full of fascinating anecdotes from some substantial musicians. Read the full “Sound City” review.
Starring Adam Scott, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Richard Jenkins and Jane Lynch. A worthy comedy vehicle for Adam Scott and company that generally gives the American farce a good name again. Read the full “A.C.O.D.” review.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Tye Sheridan. “Shotgun Stories” and “Take Shelter” director Jeff Nichols returns to his home turf of Arkansas for an immediately involving coming-of-age yarn. Read the full “Mud” review.
“Hell Baby”: C
Starring Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Paul Scheer and Keegan-Michael Key. Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s riff on demonic possession is far from a transcendent example of the modern horror spoof. Read the full “Hell Baby” review.
“The Way, Way Back”: B
Starring Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Maya Rudolph. An enjoyable, if patently safe, summer vacation comedy from the Oscar-winning screenwriting team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (“The Descendants”). Read the full “The Way, Way Back” review.
“Upstream Color”: B+
Starring Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth and Andrew Sensenig. Carruth’s exacting eye (and ear) for compositions both aural and visual when combined with Seimetz’s unfailingly frail performance inspire our trust when entering his strange world. Read the full “Upstream Color” review.
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz and Ariana Neal. This heartbreaking crime drama won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film as well as the Audience Award for Dramatic Film. Read the entire “Fruitvale” review.
“Before Midnight”: A
Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. An emotionally astute and tremendously enjoyable conclusion to director Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy. Read the full “Before Midnight” review.
“Prince Avalanche”: C+
Starring Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, Lance LeGault and Joyce Payne. David Gordon Green’s new oddity occupies a strange space between his broadly comedic fare and devoutly character-driven dramas. Read the full “Prince Avalanche” review.
“Very Good Girls”: A-
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Dakota Fanning, Demi Moore and Ellen Barkin. This tale of sexual awakening is a triumphant first directorial effort for Naomi Foner, the mother of Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal. Read the full “Very Good Girls” review.
“The Spectacular Now”: A-
Starring Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Brie Larson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. This drama kneecaps most high school movie cliches – the major story beats remain conventional but the way in which they’re presented is unique and exciting. Read the full “The Spectacular Now” review.
“Ass Backwards”: C
Starring June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio and Alicia Silverstone. Even though the story stinks, the set pieces are uninspired and the direction is downright wretched, this road comedy is redeemed by co-writers and co-stars Raphael and Wilson being genuine comic performers. Read the full “Ass Backwards” review.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Dermot Mulroney. A bloody and very nearly silly soap opera from Park Chan-wook, the director of “Oldboy.” Read “Stoker” review.
“Toy’s House”: B-
Starring Nick Robinson, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty and Gabriel Basso. A coming-of-age film that should’ve been a straightforward journey but is waylaid by unnecessary moments and slightly self-indulgent filmmaking. Read “Toy’s House” review.
“Don Jon’s Addiction”: B
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson and Tony Danza. JGL’s debut as writer-director is a funny, sly and sexy romantic comedy about the redemption of a gigolo. Read “Don Jon’s Addiction” review.
“The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman”: F
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen and Rupert Grint. This romantic crime drama is a pastiche of bad film cliches and scenes devoid of any real conflict or character development. Read “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman” review.
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco and Juno Temple. If you’re looking for sensationalism and sex, you won’t quite find it in this superficial biography film about notorious “Deep Throat” star Linda Lovelace. Read “Lovelace” review.
“Magic Magic”: A
Starring Juno Temple, Emily Browning, Michael Cera and Augustin Silva. A visually stunning and mentally harrowing tale of a vacation that becomes an eerie nightmare. Read “Magic Magic” review.
“Touchy Feely”: C+
Starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Scott McNairy and Josh Pais. This gimmicky, slow-moving relationship drama about a young woman who suddenly develops an aversion to physical touch never finds its footing. Read “Touchy Feely” review.
“In a World …”: A+
Starring Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino and Demetri Martin. Lake Bell establishes herself as a triple threat as the writer, director and star of this great comedy about the cutthroat world of the voice-over business. Read “In a World …” review.
“The East”: B+
Starring Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Patricia Clarkson. A solid but disappointingly traditional espionage thriller from the usually more oddball and innovative team of writer/star Brit Marling and writer/director Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”). Read “The East” review.
“Escape From Tomorrow”: A
Starring Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez and Jack Dalton. This Walt Disney World-set film about a man’s descent into hallucinatory madness, shot mostly on the sly at the theme park, is one of the most original and transgressive pieces of work to be showcased at Sundance in years. Read “Escape From Tomorrow” review.
“Interior. Leather Bar.”: B+
Starring Val Lauren, James Franco, Christian Patrick and Travis Mathews. Co-stars James Franco and Travis Mathews co-direct this curious but only mildly interesting experimental examination of gay culture and homophobia inspired by William Friedkin’s “Crusing.” Read “Interior. Leather Bar.” review.
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”: B+
Starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Keith Carradine. A dreamlike and challenging film about outlaw lovers that requires patience from the viewer but offers a fulfilling emotional climax. Read “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” review.
“The World According to Dick Cheney”: B+
Starring Richard Cheney. This aptly named documentary that above all else reveals how hard the former VP works to control everything around him is a fleeting yet fascinating examination of one man’s political ideas and methods. Read “The World According to Dick Cheney” review.
This horror anthology film doesn’t quite have the “ohmygodsomethingterribleisabouttohappen” tension of “V/H/S,” but what it lacks in true pyloric valve-loosening fear it makes up for with some other three letter combos: WTF and LOL. Read “S-VHS” review.
“The Look of Love”: B-
Starring Steve Coogan, Imogen Poots, Anna Friel, Tamsin Egerton. This sex- and drug-fueled romp through the wild life and times of legendary English porn mogul Paul Raymond makes for a stylish but superficial reunion for “24 Hour Party People” director Michael Winterbottom and star Steve Coogan. Read “The Look of Love” review.
Also Check Out: Hot People Looking Cold: Sundance Pics
Categories: No CategoriesTags: Ass Backwards, Don Jon’s Addiction, Lovelace, Magic Magic, Prince Avalanche, Stoker, The Spectacular Now, Toy's House, Very Good Girls