MCN Blogs
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Sundance Goody-Bag

Color me (starting to get) hopeful and excited about Sundance. Oh, I know, I shouldn’t build my hopes up too much. God knows, everyone who’s been to Sundance — been to any fest, really — has seen at least as much unadulterated crap as they have really wonderful films. But, they do take some interesting chances at Sundance, and I’ve uncovered a gem or two there, even in the more experimental categories. Sundance announced its competition schedule today, and here are three films from each of the announced categories that I’m already excited about checking out (the non-comp categories will be announced tomorrow):

Documentary Competition

Art & Copy
Director: Doug Pray, Screenwriter: Timothy J. Sexton
Latest doc from the director of Surfwise, this one delves into the world of advertising. Could it be this year’s Helvetica or Spellbound?

The September Issue

Director: R.J. Cutler
Nine months of the Vogue staff prepping for their famed “September issue,” aka the Bible of the fashion world. This will either be incredibly banal or the documentary equivalent of The Devil Wears Prada. I’m hoping it’s the latter — entertaining, character-driven, smart and providing some insight into the world of fashion, especially if they keep it interesting for those who aren’t particularly obsessed about fashion as a rule.

When You’re Strange

Director: Tom DiCillo
The first feature documentary about The Doors. ‘Nuff said.
U.S. Dramatic Competition

Cold Souls
Director: Sophie Barthes
Here’s the description from the press release: In the midst of an existential crisis, a famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Hmmm. Well, soul extraction, in general the idea of ridding oneself of the burdens and despairs of life, can an interesting one when done well (as explored in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Barthes is Sundance vet, having been there in 2007 with her short film Happiness. Cast includes Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn and Emily Watson, so it has potential.
Paper Heart
Director: Nicholas Jasenovec, Screenrwriters: Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi
Movie about a search for the true nature of love — could be sappy as hell, could be darkly comedic, who knows? But it stars Michael Cera, who I’ve liked in pretty much everything he’s been in, so I’ll give it a shot.
Director and Screenwriter: Lee Daniels
An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Sapphire, Push is likely to one of those that takes you way, way down into the gutter, all the better for you to feel the uplift of redemption, of sorts, by the end. The story is about Precious Jones, an overweight, illiterate, abused Harlem teenager, pregnant for the second time with her father’s child, who, through a social program, comes in contact with Blue Rain, who teaches Precious to both find her inner voice and improve her writing skills. Could be melodramatic, could be subtle and moving, depending on the performances and how the director plays the heartstrings. It look interesting enough to take a chance on, though.
World Cinema Documentary
211:Anna (Italy)
Directors:Paolo Serbandini & Giovanna Massimetti
This is one of my absolute must-sees: The story of assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who relentlessly fought to tell the world the other side of the Chechen conflict with Russia and President Vladimir Putin. I’ve been interested in Politkovskaya since I saw Coco: The Dove from Chechnya several years ago at an Amnesty International film fest, before she was murdered. A compelling story about a brave and heroic woman; hoping it’s well-told here.
The Old Partner (South Korea)
Director: Chung-ryoul Lee
The description of this film just jumped off the page at me for some reason: A humble octogenarian farmer lives out his final days with his spitfire wife and his loyal old ox in the Korean countryside. I don’t know … there’s just something that makes me think this might be one of the little gems of the fest, one of those quiet little films that’s not hugely splashy, but tells a great tale and has a heart. We’ll see.
Prom Night in Mississippi
Director: Paul Saltzman
This one’s another must-see. Director Paul Saltzman documents the first-ever segregated prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi — held this year. Hard at it is to believe that it took this school (and the community in general) until 2008 to get around to letting the black kids and white kids hang out together on prom night (and even more so that there were white parents who refused to let their kids go, or planned private parties instead — way to instill your ignorant bigotry for another generation there, folks), it’s a true story, and I can’t wait to see it. I’m hoping that it’s well-shot, and that Saltzman follows a few key subjects around to thread their personal stories through the bigger picture; this one could be quite good. Fingers crossed.
World Cinema Dramatic Competition
An Education (U.K.)
Director: Lone Scherfig, Screenwriter: Nick Hornby
With a script by Nick Hornby (the novelist who wrote About a Boy and High Fidelity), direction by Scherfig (Just Like Home), and a cast including Emma Thompson, Peter Sarsgaard and Sally Hawkins (yes, of Happy-Go-Lucky), this coming-of-age tale about a smart 16-year-old who becomes enraptured by an older, sophisticated man definitely looks worth checking out.
Directors: Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern
The description: When a French factory is abruptly closed by its corrupt management, a group of disgruntled female workers pool their paltry compensation money and hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. This sounds potentially funny as hell. Of course, it could just as easily be dark and edgy, or dismal and depressing, but let’s hope for the darkly comedic on this one.
Maid (La Nana) (Chile)
Director: Director and Screenwriter: Sebastian Silva
Tale of what happens in when a “bitter and introverted” maid is forced to deal with the unwanted intrusion of a second housekeeper. Another one that just jumped out at me as looking particularly interesting.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon