23 Movies We Look Forward to Watching up at The Sundance Film Festival 2010
Abe Froman and I are currently preparing to leave for Park City Utah to attend The Sundance Film Festival 2010. We are incredibly excited to make our way up there so we freeze our asses off for the sake of watching great films. We’re both a couple of California raised dudes that like the nice warm weather, so we will be bundled up quite nicely. I’ll be walking around in a snow suit like Ralphie’s brother Randy in A Christmas Story.
The Sundance film Festival has such an incredible line up of films this year and I want to see each and every one of them if that was at all possible. But, I have compiled a list of 23 films that we are going to make a strong effort to see. I started this list out as a Top Ten list of films we wanted to watch at Sundance, but that list grew to about 23 so here they are in no particular order, each with a little story summary.
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
After his convoy is attacked by a group of insurgents, Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a U.S. citizen working as a contract driver in Iraq, awakens to find himself buried alive inside a coffin. His captors have given him nothing but a lighter and a cell phone, which he must use to find some way of meeting their five-million-dollar ransom demand. Faced with limited oxygen and unlimited panic, Paul finds himself in a tension-filled race against time to escape this claustrophobic deathtrap before it’s too late.
Directed By: Spencer Susser
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson
Hesher is the story of a family struggling to deal with loss and the anarchist who helps them do it—in a very unexpected way. TJ is 13 years old. Two months ago, his mom was killed in an accident, leaving TJ and his grieving dad to move in with grandma to pick up the pieces. Hesher is a loner. He hates the world—and everyone in it. He has long, greasy hair and homemade tattoos. He likes fire and blowing things up. He lives in his van—until he meets TJ.
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
Directed by: Eli Craig
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk
“The hillbillies from the store captured Alison!”
Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies heading to their “fixer-upper” cabin for some relaxin’, discover they ain’t alone in them woods. They encounter an SUV full of vacationing college kids, and Dale unintentionally creeps them out. But later, as he and Tucker are fishing, Dale rescues one of them—the pretty blond Alison—after she falls into the lake. Assuming she’s been captured, the indomitably preppy college kids rally to find her. A comically macabre battle between Izods and overalls, Eli Craig’s ingenious sendup of the horror genre recounts a simple misunderstanding gone grotesquely wrong. Our hillbilly psycho killers are actually sweet as pie; it’s the judgmental college kids who have “issues.”
The Violent Kind
Director: The Butcher Brothers
Starring: Taylor Cole, Tiffany Shepis, Bret Roberts, Joe Egender, Cory Knauf, Joseph McKelheer, Christina Grace, Nick Tagas
Jazz, Cody, and Q are just the sort of upstanding young citizens you might expect of second-generation members of an outlaw biker gang. So when the boys take a break from their busy schedule of sex, drugs, and stompin’ fools to attend a righteous party at a secluded cabin, what could possibly go wrong?
As it happens, everything. The soirée goes to hell, people start dying, and a fine biker mama gets possessed by . . . well, by something foul indeed. It’s all more perverse fun from the utterly demented minds of writers/directors the Butcher Brothers (aka Phil Flores and Mitchell Altieri). Reuniting with much of the cast from their cult favorite The Hamiltons, the Butchers continue to surprise and offend in delightfully equal measures.
Directed By: Adam Green
Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers, Ed Ackerman
On a chilly winter night, three skiers huddle together on a chairlift, confused as to why their ride to the summit suddenly stops. The sting of the icy wind worsens when the floodlights power down, leaving them stranded in the dark. As they wait for help, the reality of the nightmare hits them. The ski resort has just closed, abandoning the group stranded high above the mountain slopes in an oncoming snow storm. With ominous howls echoing through the surrounding woods, they will need to make some tough decisions in order to survive.
Directed By: Anthony Burns
Starring: Haley Ramm, Heath Freeman, Taylor Handley, James LeGros
It’s 1983, and Skateland, the roller rink and local hangout of a small town, is becoming a fading memory of an earlier time, when disco and roller-skating were king. The party scene is getting stale, and 19-year-old Ritchie’s romantic life is as cloudy as his future. He struggles to make sense of it all, and decisions do not come easily to the carefree young man. When tragedy strikes his friends and family, Ritchie must face the music—and make the biggest decision of his life.
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
On the far side of a once-passionate romance, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) are married with a young daughter. Hoping to save their marriage, they steal away to a theme hotel. We then encounter them years earlier, when they met and fell in love—full of life and hope.
Enter The Void
Directed By: Gaspar Noe
Visionary filmmaker Gaspar Noé’s reputation as a provocateur and master technician is sure to be solidified by Enter the Void, a cinematically audacious exploration of the connected nature of sex, drugs, life, and death. This is the same director that make that crazy insane film, Irreversible.
Oscar’s a small-time drug dealer. One night, he is caught in a police bust and shot. As he lies dying, his spirit, faithful to the promise he made his sister—that he would never abandon her—refuses to leave the world of the living. It wanders through the city, its visions growing ever more distorted and nightmarish. Past, present, and future merge in a hallucinatory maelstrom.
The Company Men
Directed By: John Wells
Starring: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Cooper
One of the first casualties of a corporate downsize is Bobby Walker, a hot-shot sales executive who is living the idyllic life— complete with two kids and a mortgaged picket fence. His boss, and founder of the company, doesn’t take Bobby’s severance well, and he storms into the boardroom to demand a reprieve of the severe measures. He learns quickly that some choices are out of his hands, and this is only the beginning. We embark on a journey that is all too familiar in today’s recessionary economy: one that will test friendships, loyalties, and family bonds.
Directed By: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Riedman
Starring: James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, John Hamm, Jeff Daniels, Treat Williams
It’s San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist; society’s reaction (the obscenity trial); and mind-expanding animation that echoes the startling originality of the poem itself. All three coalesce in a genre-bending hybrid that brilliantly captures a pivotal moment—the birth of a counterculture.
Direct By: Jay & Mark Duplass
Starring: Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, John C. Reilly
The Duplass brothers are back with their singular knack: treating us to a tingling, irresistible experience of utter discomfort— suffused with pathos, romance, irony, and a little dollop of horror. This time they intrepidly mine Oedipal terrain to wrestle with stirring, profound questions about the obstacles to human intimacy. Alone and acutely depressed, having just learned of his ex-wife’s wedding plans, John can’t believe his luck when he encounters beautiful, charming Molly at a party. The two get along famously and launch a passionate affair, until Molly’s 21-year-old son, Cyrus, enters the scene. Will Molly and Cyrus’s deep and idiosyncratic bond leave room for John?
Sympathy For Delicious
Directed By: Mark Ruffalo
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Juliette Lewis, Mark Ruffalo, Laura Linny
Recently paralyzed DJ “Delicious” Dean battles the mean streets of Los Angeles, struggling to survive in his wheelchair. Yearning to walk again, and fighting to spark the ashes that were once his career, Dean turns to the dubious world of faith healing and gets much more than he bargained for. Lured by easy money and the heat of fame, Dean sells out to an unstable rock band, stomping the dreams of so many who see him as their only hope. World-famous DJ “Delicious” must now tackle his own worst demon—himself—if he is ever to conquer his “handicap” and find true healing.
Welcome to the Rileys
Directed By:Jake Scott
Starring: Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo
Trauma transforms us. Years after their teenage daughter’s death, Lois and Doug Riley, an upstanding Indiana couple, are frozen by estranging grief. She isolates herself in their immaculate suburban home. He philanders with a local waitress, anesthetizing pain with easy passion. When he loses his mistress to cancer, Doug, beset by further heartache, escapes to New Orleans on a business trip. Compelled by urgencies he doesn’t understand, he insinuates himself into the life of an underage hooker, becoming her platonic guardian. Meanwhile, Lois summons all of her remaining force to overcome agoraphobia and venture south to reclaim her marriage.
The Tillman Story
Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn’t done for any reason other than he felt it was the right thing to do. The fact that the military manipulated his tragic death in the line of duty into a propaganda tool is unfathomable and thoroughly explored in Amir Bar-Lev’s riveting and enraging documentary.
Directed By: Kevin Acsh
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg
Inspired by actual events, Holy Rollers uses the incredible story of Hasidic Jews smuggling Ecstasy in the late ’90s as a backdrop to examine the difference between faith and “blind” faith. Sam Gold, an insulated Hasid on the cusp of manhood, is frustrated by the constraints of his beliefs and his father’s poor business decisions. When Sam is presented with an opportunity to make some real money smuggling Ecstasy between Amsterdam and New York, he cautiously accepts it—and quickly finds himself seduced by the allure of the secular world. Caught between life as a smuggler and the path back to God, Sam and his worlds begin to unravel.
Directed By: Drake Doremus
Starring: Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson
The week Sam Nussbaum is to be married, his fiancée questions why his only brother, Tom, isn’t coming to the wedding. Unsatisfied with his lame reply, she surprises Sam by bringing the brothers together. Sam is not happy, but he rarely is—unless he’s telling someone what to do. When it’s revealed that Tom has only been in love once—with his fifthgrade girlfriend—Sam insists they go find her. It soon becomes evident that their journey is simply an excuse for Sam to avoid his impending commitment.
Directed By: Taika Waititi
From the director of Eagle Vs Shark.
It’s 1984, and Michael Jackson is king—even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy’s father, Alamein, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face to face with the real version—an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters.
Directed By: John Stalberg
Starring: Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Colin Hanks
So it’s the end of the school year, and smarmy Principal Gordon (Michael Chiklis) has suddenly instituted a zero-tolerance crusade against his nemesis, the reviled marijuana. A mandatory drug test for all students is to be administered, failure of which will result in immediate expulsion. Normally, this would be of no consequence to straight-arrow valedictorian Henry Burke, except he just tried ganja for the very first time. With his college scholarship hanging in the balance, Burke begrudgingly teams up with charismatic pothead Travis Breaux to do the only thing they can think of to neutralize this threat—get the entire student body stoned.
The Killer Inside Me
Directed By: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Simon Baker, Casey Affleck, Bill Pullman
Based on the novel by legendary pulp writer Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me tells the story of handsome, charming, unassuming small-town deputy sheriff Lou Ford, who has a bunch of problems. Women problems. Law-enforcement problems. And an ever-growing pile of murder victims in his west Texas jurisdiction. All the while Lou manages to remain his stoic self. However, as evidence is discovered over the course of the investigation, suspicion begins to fall on Lou. But in this savage and bleak universe, nothing is ever what it seems.
Directed By: Daniel Grou
Starring: Rémy Girard, Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette, Martin Dubreuil, Rose-Marie Coallier.
When successful surgeon Bruno Hamel’s otherwise uneventful world is torn apart by the brutal rape and murder of his eightyear- old daughter, Jasmine, he embarks on a quest for revenge against the perpetrator of this heinous crime. In a game of cat and mouse with the police detectives assigned to the case, Hamel successfully kidnaps the accused murderer as he is transported to the courthouse. With the roles now reversed, this father-turned-predator drives his prey to a remote cabin, where seven days of unspeakable torture await. He even keeps the police apprised of his plan, vowing to turn himself in after the execution of this alleged monster.
Directed By: Sam Taylor Wood
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Thomas Sangster, Kristen Scott Thomas
Growing up in Liverpool in 1955, and raised by his aunt and late uncle, John is a smart, spirited, but directionless, teen who skips school, steals records, and is told he’s going nowhere. Having brought rock music into the “house of Tchaikovsky,” John widens the rift with Aunt Mimi when he seeks out his estranged mother, to whom he forms an immediate attachment. Full of energy and sexuality, his mother encourages John’s interest in music, inflaming the rivalry with her sister, Mimi. In opening the door to a painful past, John seeks refuge in music—a journey that leads to The Beatles.
Directed By: Josh Radnor
Starring: Mailn Akerman, Richard Jenkins
Six New Yorkers juggle love, friendship, and the keenly challenging specter of adulthood. Sam Wexler is a struggling writer who’s having a particularly bad day. When a young boy gets separated from his family on the subway, Sam makes the questionable decision to bring the child back to his apartment and thus begins a rewarding, yet complicated, friendship. Sam’s life revolves around his friends—Annie, whose self-image keeps her from commitment; Charlie and Mary Catherine, a couple whose possible move to Los Angeles tests their relationship; and Mississippi, a cabaret singer who catches Sam’s eye.
Directed By: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Adrien Brody, sarah Polley
The classic monster film gets a deliciously sadistic twist in Vincenzo Natali’s contemporary dissection of the genetic engineering dilemma. Clive and Elsa are young, brilliant, and ambitious. The new animal species they engineered has made them rebel superstars of the scientific world. In secret, they introduce human DNA into the experiment. The result is something that is greater than the sum of its parts: a female animal/human hybrid that may be a step up on the evolutionary ladder. They think they may have created the perfect organism—until she makes a final shocking metamorphosis that could destroy them—and the rest of humanity.