Sundance 2012!

Sundance2012

Sundance 2012 is just around the corner, and I am gearing up for my third trip to Park City, Utah. While visiting Park City each year, I have run into friends and colleagues. Some of these Sundance attendees work for the festival, some volunteer for the festival, and some support the festival. No matter what the reason, if you have a chance to attend the Sundance Film Festival, it is a great opportunity to observe passionate and thoughtful entertainment professionals debut their work. It truly is an unforgettable experience.

As part of my trip to Sundance, I must request tickets to many films, and then it is up to the powers-that-be if I get them. While making a list of films, I have to keep in mind my schedule, which includes work events, as well as the schedule of the films themselves. Also, many of these films premiere at Sundance, so the criteria I base my selections on include the buzz surrounding the film, the genre, and the synopsis provided by the festival. This year I was able to make up a list of 16 hopeful films. Although I am very excited for each and every one, I am especially looking forward to Robot and FrankBlack Rock, and Save the Date. As I’ve learned from each year, though, a lot of these films surprise their audience, and we’ll have to wait and see which ones top my list by the end of the festival!

The following excerpts, which helped me make my selections, are taken from Sundance.org/film. Visit their site to get the scoop on all films playing at Sundance this year!


Black Rock
Director: Katie Aselton
Screenwriter: Mark Duplass
Cast: Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, Katie Aselton

“Sarah invites her old friends, Abby and Lou, on a reunion trip to a remote island in Maine. There will be laughter, tears, and a boozy catharsis. It’s the sort of weekend that can transform the three into fully realized, grown-ass women. You already know this movie, right? Wrong.

Emotional release will come, but this is no weepy ballad of reconciliation. Working from a script by her husband Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton returns to the Festival with a taut, satisfying thriller. As the danger rises, the gorgeous cinematography transforms the bucolic island into sinister and elemental terrain. Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, and director Aselton capitalize on the material and deliver remarkable performances, imbuing moments of unbearable suspense with raw emotion.”


Simon Killer
Director: Antonio Campos
Screenwriter: Antonio Campos
Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Michael Abiteboul, Constance Rousseau, Lila Salet, Solo

“A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of five years. His life should be open-ended and full of promise, but he can’t shake his feelings of loss. Being a stranger in a strange land only aggravates his situation. When he falls in love with a young mysterious prostitute, a fateful journey begins, though we soon learn that Simon is the one with deeper secrets.”


Filly Brown
Director:  Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos
Screenwriter: Youssef Delara
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Lou Diamond Phillips, Edward James Olmos, Emilio Rivera, Joseph Julian Soria

“‘Majo’ Tonorio, a.k.a. Filly Brown, is a raw, young Los Angeles hip-hop artist who spits from the heart. When a sleazy record producer offers her a crack at rap stardom, Majo faces some daunting choices. With an incarcerated mother, a record contract could be the ticket out for her struggling family. But, taking the deal means selling out her talent and the true friends who helped her to the cusp of success.”


Arbitrage
Director:  Nicholas Jarecki
Screenwriter: Nicholas Jarecki
Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker, Laetitia Casta

“Nicholas Jarecki makes an auspicious directorial debut with this taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance. Arbitrage—buying low and selling high—depends on a person’s ability to determine the true value of any given market. It’s a talent that has made billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Miller the very portrait of success in American business. But, on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, Miller finds himself desperately trying to sell his trading empire to a major bank before the extent of his fraud is discovered. When an unexpected bloody error challenges his perception of what things are worth, Miller finds that his business is not the only thing hanging in the balance.”


Goats
Director:  Christopher Neil
Screenwriter: Mark Jude Poirier, based on his novel
Cast: Graham Phillips, David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Ty Burrell, Justin Kirk, Keri Russell

“Having a self-absorbed New Age mother and an estranged father means 15-year-old Ellis Whitman has grown up relying on an unconventional guardian: a goat-trekking, marijuana-growing sage called Goat Man. So, when Ellis decides to leave the alternative ways of his desert homestead for a stuffy East Coast prep school, major changes are in store. But, not in the way you’d think. Though often stoned, the exceedingly smart and capable Ellis effortlessly aces school and excels at track. As the year progresses, it’s his relationships with the adults in his life that test him, challenging his beliefs about responsibility and trustworthiness.”


Robot and Frank
Director:  Jake Schreier
Screenwriter: Christopher Ford
Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Peter Saarsgard

“Set sometime in the future, Robot and Frank is a delightful dramatic comedy, a buddy picture, and, for good measure, a heist film. Curmudgeonly old Frank lives by himself. His routine involves daily visits to his local library, where he has a twinkle in his eye for the librarian. His grown children are concerned about their father’s well-being and buy him a caretaker robot. Initially resistant to the idea, Frank soon appreciates the benefits of robotic support—like nutritious meals and a clean house—and eventually begins to treat his robot like a true companion. With his robot’s assistance, Frank’s passion for his old, unlawful profession is reignited, for better or worse.”


Shadow Dancer
Director:  James Marsh
Screenwriter: Tom Bradby
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Gillian Anderson

“Growing up in a Republican family in 1970s Belfast, Collette McVeigh’s childhood is shattered, and her family radicalized, when her brother is killed. Twenty years later—a single mother with her own young son—Collette is active in the IRA, along with her two surviving brothers. 

During an aborted bomb attempt in London, Collette falls into the hands of an MI5 officer, Mac, who offers her a deal: turn informant or go to prison. Fearing for her son’s welfare, she returns to Belfast where—betraying family and beliefs—she becomes a reluctant mole for British intelligence. As suspicion of Collette mounts and Mac takes increasing risks to protect her, both feel the net closing in.”


Celeste and Jesse Forever
Director:  Lee Toland Krieger
Screenwriter: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack
Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood

“Celeste and Jesse met in high school and got married young. They laugh at the same jokes and finish each other’s sentences. They are forever linked in their friends’ minds as the perfect couple—she, a high-powered businesswoman and budding novelist; he a free spirit who keeps things from getting boring. Their only problem is that they have decided to get divorced. Can their perfect relationship withstand this minor setback?”


Wish You Were Here
Director:  Kieran Darcy-Smith
Screenwriter: Kieran Darcy-Smith, Felicity Price
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr

“Expectant parents Alice and Dave join Alice’s younger sister, Steph, and her new boyfriend, Jeremy, on an impromptu tropical getaway in Cambodia. But, following Jeremy’s abrupt disappearance, the others must attempt to return to their normal lives in Sydney. The shell-shocked survivors’ recovery begins to fall apart when a stinging truth about their time in Cambodia is revealed. The three must contend with the fallout, along with the looming threat of further revelations about that fateful night.”


Grabbers
Director:  Jon Wright
Screenwriter: Kevin Lehan
Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy, David Pearse, Bronagh Gallagher

“Something sinister has come to the shores of Erin Island, unbeknownst to the quaint population of this sleepy fishing village resting somewhere off Ireland’s coast. First, some fishermen go missing. Then, there is the rash of whale carcasses suddenly washing up on the beach. When the murders start, it’s up to two mismatched cops—an irresponsible alcoholic and his new partner, a by-the-book woman from the mainland—to protect the townsfolk from the giant, bloodsucking, tentacled aliens that prey upon them. Their only weapon, they discover, is booze. If they want to survive the creatures’ onslaught, everyone will have to get very, very drunk!”


Bachelorette
Director:  Leslye Headland
Screenwriter: Leslye Headland
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer

“Regan is used to being first at everything. Imagine her horror and chagrin when she finds out the girl everyone called Pig Face in high school is going to tie the knot before she does! But, Regan sucks it up and takes on bridesmaid duties along with her childhood pals: substance-abusing, promiscuous Gena and ditzy Katie. The single ladies are determined to put their bitterness aside and have an awesomely hedonistic bachelorette party. Armed with acerbic wit and seemingly endless supplies of coke and booze, the foul-mouthed femmes embark on one very long and emotional night filled with major wedding-dress panic, various bodily fluids, and cute ex-boyfriends.”


Lay the Favorite
Director:  Stephen Frears
Screenwriter: D.V. DeVincentis
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon

“Beth Raymer is a beautiful girl with a big heart who leaves her dancing job at a Florida strip club to become a Las Vegas cocktail waitress. Not exactly an ideal career choice, but her borderline-ditzy personality doesn’t give her many options. In walks Dink, a professional sports bettor who sees through her bubbly exterior and offers her a job placing wagers all over town to gain an advantage over the casinos. Her surprisingly impeccable mind for numbers soon cements her status as Dink’s good-luck charm, until his gorgeous-but-frigid wife Tulip starts to get jealous. Faced with no other choice but to fire Beth, Dink’s luck runs out when she heads to New York to work for a smarmy bookie, a turn of events that lands her squarely on the wrong side of the law.”


Red Lights
Director:  Rodrigo Cortés
Screenwriter: Rodrigo Cortés
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones, Leonardo Sbaraglia

“Two investigators of paranormal hoaxes, the veteran Dr. Margaret Matheson and her young assistant, Tom Buckley, study the most varied metaphysical phenomena with the aim of proving their fraudulent origins. Simon Silver, a legendary blind psychic, reappears after an enigmatic absence of 30 years to become the greatest international challenge to both orthodox science and professional skeptics. Tom starts to develop an intense obsession with Silver, whose magnetism becomes stronger with each new manifestation of inexplicable events. As Tom gets closer to Silver, tension mounts, and his worldview is threatened to its core.”


Safety Not Guaranteed
Director:  Colin Trevorrow
Screenwriter: Derek Connolly
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni

“Three magazine employees are sent to investigate a personal advertisement placed in the newspaper: guy seeking partner for time travel. They venture to the coast and set up a haphazard surveillance. Darius is recruited as the shill; her dry wit and cynical nature are perfectly suited to trap this enigmatic oddball, Kenneth, and get a good story. But, it is she who first sees past the paranoid loner façade to the compelling person inside. The drawback? This still doesn’t rule out the possibility that he just might be crazy.”


Save the Date
Director: Michael Mohan
Screenwriter: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan
Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber

“Sarah finds herself caught in an intense post-breakup rebound with new infatuation Jonathan after tragically breaking the heart of rocker Kevin. Always one to give Sarah life advice is her sister Beth, who is diligently planning her upcoming wedding to apprehensive fiancé Andrew. Both sisters fumble through the bumpy emotional landscape of modern-day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved.”


2 Days in New York
Director: Julie Delpy
Screenwriter: Julie Delpy
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Naho

“Marion (Julie Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) live cozily—perhaps too cozily—with their cat and two young children from previous relationships. However, when Marion’s jolly father (played by director Delpy’s real-life dad), her oversexed sister, and her sister’s outrageous boyfriend unceremoniously descend upon them for a visit, it initiates two unforgettable days that will test Marion and Mingus’s relationship. With their unwitting racism and sexual frankness, the French triumvirate hilariously has no boundaries or filters. . .and no person is left unscathed in its wake.”

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