Until Thursday, Sundance Film Festival watchers from afar could have been forgiven for concluding that the increased emphasis on art, rather than on commerce, in the festival offerings this year may have worked all too well. Many of the films making their debuts were wowing critics, but the money people appeared to be unimpressed, or at least not impressed enough to open their wallets. Or at least opening them too often.
Article: Will Mormons a see gay-marriage doc?
In his review of 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION, a documentary about the Mormon Church’s campaign to pass Prop. 8, the ballot initiative outlawing gay marriage in California, Variety’s Peter Debruge writes that the film is “mostly preaching to the converted.”
“Although controversy could spur interest, the pic hasn’t been as incendiary as one might expect playing just north of LDS HQ at the Sundance Film Festival,” Debruge asserts.
He may have spoken too soon.
What are the top trends emerging from the Sundance Film Festival this year? That really depends on whom you ask.
Los Angeles Times Film critic Betsy Sharkey thinks it’s punk saviors. “If there is a collective vision emerging out of the films in the Sundance dramatic competition it is this: The punks will save you,” she writes, citing WELCOME TO THE RILEYS, the debut film of director Jake Scott (son of Ridley); actor Mark Ruffalo’s directing debut SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS, in which he also stars; and Spencer Susser’s HESHER.
Article: Talking about art at Sundance
Sundance Film Festival attendees who are looking to unglue their eyes from screens and emerge from darkened movie theaters now and again just got a little added incentive. The Festival has announced a series of panels, roundtables and special events examining the powerfully transformative role of art and culture in society
Article: What are people saying about HOWL?
Seems like James Franco has been all over the place in the last few days, talking about, among other things, HOWL, the new film by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman in which the actor stars as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Here he is discussing his love of poetry with Vanity Fair. There he is explaining his love of soap operas to New York magazine. Here he is defending his tendency to play roles based on himself on screen in Movieline. And there he is getting rapped for his shabby grad-school duds by old-school gossipist Cindy Adams: “His black coat was littered with light brown hair,” she sniffed in her New York Post column on Wednesday.
Talk about pressure. Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper may have the entire independent film industry riding on him. So says New York Times writer Brooks Barnes, positing on Thursday, hours before the Festival kicked off, that “this might very well be the most important Sundance in years.”
Article: Making music at Sundance
Still from ODDSAC.
Music is surely a strong theme at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: In Sam Taylor Wood’s NOWHERE BOY, a teenage, pre-Beatles John Lennon finds an escape from his dysfunctional family through music (watch a clip here). The band Animal Collective will debut the film it has spent years collaborating on with Danny Perez, ODDSAC, a psychedelic mix of abstract music and visuals. TWILIGHT’s Kristen Stewart stars as rocker Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning plays Jett’s bandmate Cherie Currie in Floria Sigismondi’s rock-and-roll biopic THE RUNAWAYS. And that’s just for example.
Article: How you can help in Haiti
One of the issues the Sundance Film Festival has set out to explore this year is the role of the arts today — how filmmaking and other art forms can not just stay relevant, but can actually be an agent for positive change in a world that surely needs all the help it can get. It’s hard to think of a better example of the transformative power of art than the efforts of the students at Cine Institute, Haiti’s only film school, located in the country’s cultural capital, a seaside city called Jacmel.
Those of us feeling sad about being stuck at home during the Sundance Film Festival yet again this year will be relieved to hear that our distance from Park City is a diminishing disadvantage. Today’s news? Audiences across the United States can view three Sundance feature films on their very own computers even before they screen for Festival audiences, thanks to a deal Sundance has forged with YouTube.
Main Street in Park City, UT during the Sundance Film Festival.
I have two words for you: Lyle Lovett. My Mason-Dixon reared soul is all a flutter over this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
I will be honest: I haven’t gone to Sundance in four years. I used to cover it when I was the deputy editor for Page Six at the New York Post. For a gossip columnist, it was like shooting ducks in a barrel. Celebrities abounded, bad behavior – thanks to alcohol consumption, high altitudes and a distinct lack of spousal companionship – was everywhere, and I was in heaven. I would see some great movies, interview some actors, and then go to premiere and agency parties, collecting information all along the way. It was fun and I got some good work done.
Actor David Hyde Pierce will be announcing the awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The Sundance Film Festival has announced the names of the jurors who will determine which films competing in five different categories will take home awards from Park City this year. The awards will be announced at a ceremony hosted by actor David Hyde Pierce on January 30. The winners in the Short Film category will also be announced earlier, at a separate event on January 26.
Article: HBO nabs Sundance film in early deal
Although the shimmering wave of industry bigwigs and cinematic glitterati won’t roll into Park City for a few more days, the Sundance Film Festival business deals have already begun. Last week, HBO announced that it had acquired the U.S. television rights to New York-based Argentinean filmmaker Nicolas Entel’s feature documentary SINS OF MY FATHER.
To count down to the Sundance Film Festival, we’re blogging about some of our favorite movie moments in the festival’s history. We’ve covered the Top 10 Lessons in Love, Top 10 Lessons in Young Love and the Top 10 Oddest Couples. This week, we’re featuring the movie moments that make you feel funny in a bad way, make you squirm in your seat, give you second-hand embarrassment or leave you holding your knees rocking back and forth saying “No” over and over.
Some people vow to lose weight and start exercising in the New Year. I resolve to whip my Netflix queue in shape, trimming out last year’s worthy crap and replacing it with this year’s best offerings, which I have 12 months to get through before they turn into last year’s worthy crap. Aiding me in this task are the nation’s critics, who dutifully spend all year watching movies and the last few weeks in December compiling “best of” lists. Many of these lists tend to look more or less the same, but some offer the occasional surprise. These critical taste quirks are the spice of list reading.
So here, in the spirit of 10 best lists, are the 10 best “10 best movie” lists of 2009. I must warn you that, as a parent of two small children who only rarely leaves the house to sit in the dark with cinematically minded strangers, I have seen very few of the movies on these lists. (Thus the great importance of proper Netflix queue maintenance.) Then again, given how many kid-friendly movies made it onto the lists this year, that excuse may be a bit flimsy. Too bad. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. On to the list of lists!
Was 2009 the best of times or the worst of times for Hollywood? That probably depends on whom you ask: the scads of people who lost their jobs at studios, networks and production companies over the last year or the audiences who hightailed it to the movies in increasing number, looking for a fantasy escape from bleak economic realities.
What does it mean to be an artist today — and what can artists look forward to in the next decade? Will we be overwhelmed with information, stymied by Tweets and status updates, emails and IMs and an ever-faster news cycle? Will we throw up our hands (and put down our paintbrushes and mouses) in the face of economic woes? Or will we find inspiration in it all, a renewed sense of art’s importance and role in our lives — as well as distribution opportunities we never thought possible?
Article: Sundance welcomes women directors
Responding to the last-minute addition of three films to the Sundance Film Festival lineup this week, New York Times’ Carpetbagger blogger Melena Ryzik noticed something that, I confess, I overlooked: All three of the newly added films — Gurinder Chadha’s “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife,” Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids are Alright” and Galt Niederhoffer’s “The Romantics” — are from young female directors. In fact, there are several other women directors who will be presenting films in the festival’s Premieres category: Sam Taylor Wood, Nicole Holofcener, Floria Sigismondi and Shari Springer Berman among them.
Article: Up close and fantastical: An interview with director Terry Gilliam on THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
For 35 years, critically acclaimed director Terry Gilliam has introduced audiences to the fantastic and the bizarre with films such as BRAZIL, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, THE FISHER KING, and 12 MONKEYS. His latest film, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS, follows its characters through a new world of dreams and desire, but was not…
When it premiered in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival, Joe Berlinger’s documentary CRUDE opened many filmgoers’ eyes to the plight of 30,000 people from five indigenous tribes in Ecuador. These residents of what had been a beautiful, biodiverse rain forest were suffering the effects of what has become known as the “Amazon Chernobyl,” in which, they and others contend, 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste had been dumped in their rivers and on their land. The water they drank, bathed and played in had been poisoned, and their children, siblings and parents were sick and dying in alarming numbers.
In the days between the announcements of the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations this week and the handing out of the awards themselves next month, much time will be spent parsing who’s gotten a nod, who’s been overlooked, what it says about the state of cinema today and what it portends for…
The 2010 Sundance Film Festival won’t kick off for a few weeks, but the press is already dusting off its snow boots and readying for action. (“Should the Bagger rent a car in Sundance, or are the shuttles where all the good gossip is?” wonders The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik, the new Carpetbagger blogger and a festival first-timer. One reader suggests a Norwegian kicksled.)
Article: Is screen direction overrated?
Screen direction – one amongst many rules in visual storytelling. This one dictates the direction in which people look at each other, or the direction in which they walk, implying that on the two- dimensional screen, the characters are engaged by their looks, or walk away or toward one another.
I’m editing a film right now, and okay, some mistakes were made on the set. Not many, granted, but a few. In other words, we thought an actor should have been walking or looking right to left and as it turns out, when we cut it together, there’s a jump where we’ve crossed the 180 degree “line” – the actor should have been looking or walking the other way. In the last week, I’ve asked myself, in this age of very sophisticated film viewing, does it even matter anymore? Should we just sort of, get over it?
Chita Rivera onstage at New York City’s Birdland Jazz Club – October 13, 2009.
Saxophone giant Charlie “Bird” Parker called it the “crossroads of the world.” New York City’s famed jazz club, Birdland, was just that on Tuesday for the launch of beloved Broadway star Chita Rivera’s new album, And Now I Swing.
Article: Jay Smooth vs. Roman Polanski
Jay Smooth, who created the hip hop music blog and founded NYC’s hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad, recently took on Roman Polanski on his blog. Roman Polanski on a hip-hop blog? Ok, I’ll listen. The rant, clocking in at over seven minutes, is hard to look away from. He presents his case against Polanski, and…
Article: Geeking on the center of the frame
Like my colleague Lisa, who wrote recently on this subject, I too saw Jane Campion’s BRIGHT STAR. What innovation … Campion truly takes luscious to a new level. One element far more subtle than butterflies and tree tops, though, that I noticed right away and has been on my mind since, is how Campion twists traditional portraiture and cinematography composition by using the center of the frame. The center of the frame? Who cares! Well, to some geeks out there, including me, it’s absolutely notable.