Sundance 2012 trends: Women behaving badly, star-studded bombs, and physical handicaps
Now that we’ve reached the home stretch of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s time to take a long, hard look at some of the major trends of this year’s fest…
WOMEN BEHAVING BADLY
It doesn’t get much meaner than Regan, the lead character played with icy deliciousness by Kirsten Dunst in BACHELORETTE. She blows loads of cocaine, has sloppy bathroom sex with douchebags, and talks down to even her best friends. Melissa Leo’s neurotic, drug-addicted mom, Penny, in PREDISPOSED is no picnic, either. In order to get her into rehab, her son, played by Jessie Eisenberg, must score her cocaine so she can produce dirty urine (since she is without health insurance). The basketball-bosomed, stiletto-sporting Jackie Siegel in the documentary QUEEN OF VERSAILLES makes the Real Housewives’ outrageousness look tame by comparison, and EXCISION’s Pauline, played by 90210’s AnnaLynne McCord, is the craziest one of all. She gets her jollies fantasizing about amputating people, engaging in mock necrophilia, and having sex covered in menstrual blood.
One of the most anticipated films going into the fest was RED LIGHTS, a psychological thriller by Rodrigo Cortes, the director of BURIED, boasting an all-star cast, including Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen, and Robert De Niro. Nothing in the tone-deaf film works. It isn’t the least bit frightening—or intellectually engaging—and De Niro mails in his performance as a blind psychic. Millenium ENT will need to make some major edits to justify its $2 million acquisition. I didn’t think they could make a worse gambling film than Curtis Hanson’s LUCKY YOU, but LAY THE FAVORITE, a gambling drama by acclaimed director Stephen Frears (DANGEROUS LIASONS) that has seemingly no basis in reality, takes the cake. The usually impressive Rebecca Hall is woefully miscast as a private dancer/aspiring cocktail waitress, and winning turns from lead Bruce Willis and Vince Vaughn as a flamboyant bookmaker can’t right the ship. GOATS, a disjointed film about an eccentric-pool-slash-man-goat herder, played by David Duchovny, boasts a poor lead performance from young Graham Phillips (of The Good Wife fame), and a puzzling one from the typically excellent Vera Farmiga as his mom.
As the polio-crippled poet Mark O’Brien on a quest to lose his virginity in THE SURROGATE, John Hawkes delivers a charming, touching performance—despite being trapped in an iron lung for a good part fo the film—that’s a far cry from his sinister, Oscar-nominated role as Uncle Teardrop in WINTER’S BONE. Surprisingly enough, Hawkes is already an early front-runner for Best Actor at the 2013 Oscars. The beautiful, wheelchair-bound ladies of the upcoming docu-series PUSH GIRLS were a regular fixture in Park City, turning festivalgoers’ heads left and right, and Tracy Morgan delivers a pretty funny turn as a mouthy cocaine dealer who hobbles around with a cane in PREDISPOSED, while Robert De Niro’s aforementioned blind psychic in RED LIGHTS is supposed to be menacing, but is really borderline caricature.
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