jason reitman

Sundance: Here come the judges!

Sundance: Here come the judges!

Here come the judges! With the Sundance Film Festival set to kick off on Thursday, the Sundance Institute has announced the members of the five juries who will decide which films will be taking home not only happy memories from this year’s festival, but awards as well. Actor/director Tim Blake Nelson, a Sundance Institute alum,…

Too much air up there

Too much air up there

As we brace for awards season, I buckled up and went to see UP IN THE AIR, on the lips of many-a-critic as contender for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor. So why did I find it so … airy? As in, without much substance?

And I’ll readily admit, I like some smooth Clooney romance just as much as the other guy, and Vera Farmiga is a great partner for George in a little heated hub-bub. (Although nothing, but nothing, tops Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, in Soderbergh’s OUT OF SIGHT.) AIR does have some great elements – sharp dialogue, snappy performances, and an organic, surprising twist that plays beautifully – so what’s the problem?

UP IN THE AIR

UP IN THE AIR

Amid the loneliness and isolation of an increasingly digital world, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) seems to be the only one equipped with an suitable personal philosophy. Instead of lamenting the loss of real human connection, he embraces it, maintaining only limited ties with his family and his co-workers. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to have any friends; he is satisfied just being around people. Yet as much as he rejects the emotional baggage any real relationship requires, he is still a victim of his own humanity and his own inherent need for others – to not be alone. In his job, for example, he flies all over the country for most of the year firing employees at downsizing companies. Ironically, the only thing he seems to relish more than the hubbub of constant travel is his ability to connect to people, to let them down easy. Yes, he may be firing them, but he prides himself by doing it with a certain degree of humanity.

Wall-to-wall Panels

Wall-to-wall Panels

While most programmers struggle with late prints, expired bulbs, torn films, and busted speakers, they for the most part don’t have to deal with human beings (other than filmmakers, of course). Programmer John Nein, who coordinates most of the Festival panels, is left to wrangle the human element for his panels.

Who's Laughing Now: Dark Comedies At Sundance

Who's Laughing Now: Dark Comedies At Sundance

E. B. White wrote, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” As such, it was brave of Sundance to convene a panel called “On Comedy: Laughing in Dark Times.” Screenwriter Larry Gross moderated the following group of funny filmmakers: Mark and Jay Duplass (BAGHEAD) [www.sundance.org], Marianna Palka (GOOD DICK), Taika Cohen (EAGLE VS SHARK), Clark Gregg (CHOKE), Pam Brady (HAMLET 2), and Jason Reitman (JUNO), Short Film Juror.

Festival Announces Jury Members

Festival Announces Jury Members

he 2008 Sundance Film Festival announced today the members of the six juries awarding prizes at the Festival, which runs January 17-27, 2008 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The juries collectively are comprised of twenty-four individuals from the global film community, each of whom brings unique perspective and range of experience. Award winning directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers in the Competition categories will be announced on the evening of January 26 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Park City Racquet Club.