Every year there’s one. A surprise, sometimes a long-shot, but a performance that’s so undeniably stunning it just can’t be ignored by audiences (or the Academy). And in this year’s Oscar nominations — announced today — that surprise was Sundance Film Festival favorite BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD’s Quvenzhané Wallis, who at 9 years old is the youngest Best Actress hopeful ever. (For the past decade, WHALE RIDER’s Keisha Castle-Hughes has owned that distinction, but she was a whopping 13 years old when nominated.)
This week’s theme is… nymphomania! Ok, so only two of our five featured films focus on characters who go beyond simple promiscuity, but that’s 50% more than a normal week. In addition, we’ve got Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and the story behind one of post-punk music’s biggest fallen icons. Unfortunately not all in the same film, but hey, you’ve got to pace yourself. We’ve got all week together.
Article: Now Playing: THE TRUMAN SHOW, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, and THE HOUSEMAID brighten your post-holiday week
The presents have been opened, the ill-fitting or poorly-considered clothing gifts packed back up for return, the wrapping paper now sitting in a mess on the floor like the aftermath of your own living room ticker tape parade. While you get over the hangover left by the day before and look forward to the traditional week-long workplace goof-off period between now and January 1st (hey, you’ve earned it!), check out what we’ve got in store this week as you plan your New Year’s Eve party.
Sundance Institute announced today 19 members of five juries awarding prizes at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Short Film Awards will be announced at a ceremony on January 22 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl, with feature film awards announced at a separate ceremony on January 26.
Article: Top 10 life lessons from John Cusack
Photo Credit: Listal
John Cusack’s entire career is something of a life lesson: you don’t need to be conventionally macho to become a leading man. Even in the golden age of muscled-up testosterone, the eighties, Cusack found success in offbeat roles while seeding a career with far fewer rough patches than, say, Sylvester Stallone’s. This month, Sundance Channel is showing two of Cusack’s very best, SAY ANYTHING and HIGH FIDELITY; in those movies and others, Cusack has much to teach us.
Article: Now Playing: THE QUIET AMERICAN, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, and THE EXTERMINATING ANGELS plus more Sundance Channel premieres
Leading up to the holidays this year, we’ve got the gift of five fantastic films for you this week including three novel adaptations and three Sundance Channel premieres. It’s a Festivus miracle! Hey, at least we didn’t give you a pink bunny suit like your Aunt Clara always does. Sit back, relax, and celebrate the season with these films and a nice highball of your favorite hard spirit mixed with a thimble of eggnog – what, that’s not how your family drinks it?
Sundance Institute today announced the addition of four films to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, including MAGIC MAGIC (Director: Sebastián Silva), MUSCLE SHOALS (Director: Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier) and WRONG COPS (Director: Quentin Dupieux) as well as EL MARIACHI (1993) for the From the Collection screening. The 2013 Festival will be January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
This week we delve into our darkest fears and deepest desires with films about alienation, death, love, sex and… improper surgical techniques? Luckily, not all in the same film. Like this crazy month of December so far, our films are running hot and cold this week, from the blazing Arizona sun of SEX MAGIC to the North Dakota/Minnesota snow and ice of FARGO and points in between.
Article: Now Playing: TINY FURNITURE and SAY ANYTHING, plus Stephen King, the first-ever NC-17 and more
Ever feel that twinge of nostalgia for those glory days of high school and college? Well, you may have forgotten the aimlessness and angst of post-graduation – but don’t worry, we’ve got two films to remind you of it this week. Also on tap, a sexy (but literary!) romp through Paris, one of the best Stephen King film adaptations ever, and Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason-Leigh at each other’s throats.
Article: Sundance Film Festival 2013 announces Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier films
Sundance Institute announced today the films selected to screen in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival out-of-competition sections Spotlight, Park City at Midnight and New Frontier, as well as the installations and performances to be featured in the Festival’s New Frontier venue. The Festival takes place January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah.
Trevor Groth, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, said, “I couldn’t be more pleased to announce the films selected for these sections because they illustrate the tremendous creativity and vibrancy of the independent film community. Spotlight features our favorite films that have premiered at other festivals and the Park City at Midnight and New Frontier sections are comprised of films that are bound to shock, intoxicate, derange or dazzle. Expect the unexpected when you venture down the path of these cinematic sensations.”
The lovable losers in Stephen Frears’ HIGH FIDELITY waste their days sitting around the Chicago record store Championship Vinyl compiling Top 5 lists. Records to play on a Monday morning? Dream jobs? Songs about death? These elitist “experts” have got you covered.
As we prepare for Sundance Channel’s premiere of Frears’ relationship comedy — it airs Sunday, Dec. 2, at 10P, with encores throughout the month — we were inspired to create our own all-time, top 5, desert-island list of lovelorn, sad sack heroes of the heart. These guys have perfected the art of pining after the prettiest girls. In the best-case scenarios, they even win that girl’s heart.
And yes, we double-dipped on Cusack, because few in Hollywood are quite as masterful at the hangdog look of the broken-hearted, unfulfilled Romeo. It’s his calling card … as HIGH FIDELITY confirms.
On tap this week, we’ve got three quirky, funny and yes, sad films for the independent minded, plus a bonus: an unlikely blockbuster thriller with an unusual stock of Oscar-winning talent. That’s four films for the price of three. Who doesn’t love a holiday season deal like that?
In 2002, David Cronenberg’s SPIDER, which airs this Friday, seemed like a departure for the director. He was known primarily as a genre expert – one who had taken standard horror and thriller motifs and turned them into very personal expressions of post-modern unease in films like his remake of THE FLY and his adaptation of Stephen King’s THE DEAD ZONE. (Even his masterpiece DEAD RINGERS, though ostensibly a more serious film, was at heart a monster movie about twin gynecologists whose wild beliefs about the body and human nature resulted in their horrific deeds.) Although the director had made some forays into more “respectable” literature along the way, SPIDER felt different. And it was. It was also a harbinger of things to come.
This week, let’s be thankful for Asian cinema and some sleeper films that spawned monster hit TV series. If it wasn’t for the risks taken by Asian filmmakers like Takashi Miike, Johnnie To and Park Chan-wook, where would western directors like Quentin Tarantino and RZA get their inspiration? And if it wasn’t for films like STARGATE and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, we probably would never have had… well, Stargate or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV shows, that is). But even if you believe a life without Stargate or Buffy on TV wouldn’t be such a bad thing (or maybe even especially if you do), you’ll want to check out the original films – they are very different from the series they spawned.
The title of LITTLE CHILDREN (airing November 24 at 8P and throughout the month)—cowriter-director Todd Field’s chilling 2006 adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s tale of love, lust and lies in suburbia—works on many levels. It describes the type of people who would commit selfish, impulsive actions like the pair of unhappily married people (Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson) at the heart of the story who engage in a passionate but ultimately destructive affair with no regard for how it will affect others, especially their own, yes, little children. It also applies to those innocent young residents of a sleepy New Jersey burg whose parents feel they need to protect them from a convicted sex offender, Ronald “Ronnie” James McGorvey (THE BAD NEWS BEARS grad Jackie Earle Haley, in a career-redefining performance), who’s moved back into their neighborhood. And it also encapsulates the personality of Ronnie, who’s infantilized by his smothering mother (the heartbreakingly good Phyllis Somerville) and terrorized into believing he could never survive without her, leaving him in a state of perpetually arrested adolescence and unable to express his sexual longings in a mature manner—and with his peers.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the real world, are we? Sundance Channel has the perfect escape on offer: Some really unreal worlds, alternative universes where hauntings, vampires, time travel, spontaneous combustion and the like are commonplace. However bad things may look right now, they can’t possibly compete with discovering that your kid is the spawn of Satan, can it? Here are 10 of our favorite alternate universes on film, of course, airing on Sundance Channel this month.
As long as they’ve been making movies in Hollywood, Tinseltown has represented the American Dream, where anything can happen for those who reach high enough. Scores of nobodies arrive in Southern California each year hoping for their lucky break, inspired by the stories of those who built multimillion dollar careers from nothing. In STAR MAPS, premiering on Wednesday at 8P and airing throughout the month, our hero travels to Hollywood in search of a new life, only to find something very different.
It’s one of the oldest entertainment tropes there is, dating right back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Whether the audience is in on the trick or not, there are dozens of ways to play with identity confusion from rom-coms to thrillers. Some of them can leave you wondering if anyone is who you think they are! LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN — which airs on Friday at 10P and throughout the month — takes us deep into the heart of tangled identities, the mob, and more, but it’s not the only thriller relying on this trope to keep audiences tingling with anticipation…
Sure, he’s Bond (arguably the best), in GOLDFINGER and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (among others). Yeah, he won an Oscar for playing a grizzled Chicago lawman in THE UNTOUCHABLES. And of course, he’s a professor-adventurer in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. But, wow — has Sean Connery been in a lot of scifi and fantasy movies! Here are five of our favorites:
Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro in a neo-noir with a twist. Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman in a Tom Clancy nuclear thriller. And Ed Harris and Vince Vaughn in a long con. It’s a roller coaster week of suspense, thrills, chills and twist endings here on Sundance Channel. Hang on to your hats!
Article: Top 10 thrilling modern outlaws
Attention, filmmakers: If you want an audience to get behind a particular character, make him go it alone, force him to do things his own way. Renegade style. Whether he’s fighting for the good of mankind or redefining what constitutes evil, we can’t help but find him intriguing. These are self-sufficient guys with no apologies, few rules, and even fewer questions asked. And here are some of our favorites, our Top 10 Thrilling Modern Outlaws, every one of them airing on Sundance Channel in November.
Have you ever noticed that Denzel Washington is at his best when he’s behaving his worst?
The actor’s first Oscar win arrived in 1989, when he played the bitter, furious ex-slave Trip in Ed Zwick’s Civil War drama GLORY. Washington further embraced his dark side, and delivered his second Oscar-winning performance, by playing a corrupt L.A. street detective in Antoine Fuqua’s TRAINING DAY. And it’s likely he’ll earn a sixth Academy Award nomination early next year for his gripping portrayal of an alcoholic airline pilot in Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT, in theaters now.
It wasn’t until this pattern presented itself that we doubled back and realized just how often Washington willingly accepts the role of a hero mired in morality’s grey areas. Unlike Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks — bankable A-listers who desperately want to be loved by audiences worldwide — Washington repeatedly challenges his followers by asking them to accept a flawed protagonist who stands at an emotionally complicated crossroads and often makes an unpopular decision.
There’s just something about James Spader that reads… well, kind of odd. Intelligent, certainly, but also icky. He has a certain oddball appeal that often manifests in roles that are uncomfortably sexual — and, more often than not, you’re in for a mindfuck. Next up for Spader is the political drama LINCOLN, in which he plays a Tennessee lobbyist — but lest you’re worried he’s gone legit, he explained that his favorite thing about the role was smoking cigars, laughing and drinking… and being naughty and irreverent. Here are some of his oddest (and some of our favorite) roles to date.
This week, we’ve got a unique take on the world’s oldest profession, an archetypical story of a lovable curmudgeon who learns even as he teaches, and the directorial debut of one of the most popular comedic actors of our time. Catch it all over the next seven days on Sundance Channel.
The rap on actors as first-time directors is that they’re often more interested in exploring characters—and indulging cast members—than they are in telling straightforward stories. Think of slow-paced character studies like Sean Penn’s THE INDIAN RUNNER or Gary Oldman’s NIL BY MOUTH. Even Tommy Lee Jones’ modern Western THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA and veteran auteur Robert Redford’s wartime drama LIONS FOR LAMBS (both of which I’ve recently written about) favor long scenes of motivation-revealing dialogue over peppy, narrative-advancing plotting.