Sundance Originals Archive for January, 2012

Sundance Docs Roundup: Detropia, Queen of Versailles, and Ethel

Detropia Sundance vets Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing were back this year with Detropia, a look at a city that’s gone from being the fastest growing city in the US to one of the most rapidly declining. Detropia has a palpable opinion about its subject matter (Ewing grew up just outside Detroit), and the filmmaker’s…

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Sundance Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

One of the biggest surprises of this year’s Sundance is just how terrific Safety Not Guaranteed, Colin Trevorrow’s film based on a real Craigslist ad seeking a companion for time travel, turned out to be. The film’s quirky premise, which sends three magazine employees to investigate whether the man who placed the ad really thinks…

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Sundance Review: Goats

There’s a good deal to like in Goats, a coming-of-age tale adapted by Mark Jude Poirier off his own 2001, semi-autobiographical novel, and helmed by first-time feature director Christopher Neil (nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, cousin of Sophia Coppola). The film focuses on Ellis Whitman (Graham Phillips), a 14-year-old kid, wise and responsible beyond his…

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Sundance Review: For Ellen

So Yong Kim (In Between Days, Treeless Mountain) is back at Sundance this year with For Ellen, a quiet, meticulously paced character study about Joby (Paul Dano), a would-be rock star , who takes a road trip back to the small midwest town where his soon-to-be ex and young daughter live so that he can…

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Sundance Review: Compliance

Craig Zobel, who was last at Sundance in 2007 with Great World of Sound, a sharply directed and acted film about a record producing company scam, is back at Sundance this year with a film about a different sort of scam, Compliance, an equally sharp examination of what happens when Sandra, a fast food restaurant…

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Sundance Review: The Pact

The Pact, directed by Nicholas McCarthy, played here at Sundance as a short film last year, and came back this year as a full-blown feature. Now I’m not much of a horror chick, though I do occasionally enjoy a good scare. For me (and, I’d have to say, a sizable percentage of the public screening…

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Sundance Review: The First Time

The First Time , in spite of its title, isn’t at all the kind of raunchy teen sex comedy about a guy desperately trying to lose his virginity, and his friends trying to help him get laid that you might expect it to be. It’s a sweet, funny story about these two young people, Dave…

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Sundance Review: NOBODY WALKS

NEW YORKERS IN LOS ANGELES with Italian filmmaking on the brain: that would be director Ry Russo-Young and her co-writer Lena Dunham, with Nobody Walks, a tactile, tensile minor-key successor to Pasolini’s Teorema. Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is a 23-year-old New York photographer with an upcoming one-woman show and she’s come to stay with a Silver…

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Sundance Review: The House I Live In

This film started out a little slow for me, and it also does two things I’m generally not fond of in documentary films: it uses a great deal of voiceover, and the director integrates himself heavily into the story. But wait, bear with me, because if you stick with this film, it pays off very…

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Sundance Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Behn Zeitlin and made by Court 13, the New Orleans-based filmmaking collective of which he’s a part, is a fabulous piece of cinematic storytelling. The story itself is fascinating, intricate, and completely unique: The protagonist is Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl who lives a free and wild existence in…

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The Sundance Institute Issues the following statement About Bingham Ray

The Sundance Institute Issues the following statement: Sundance Institute has learned that Bingham Ray, beloved friend of independent film, and Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, has been hospitalized while in Utah for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We have reached out to Bingham and his family and San Francisco Film Society to…

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Sundance Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

If you were hoping for Celeste and Jesse Forever, one of the most buzzed about titles going into Sundance this year, to be this year’s Like Crazy, you’re in luck. Beautifully written by Will McCormack and Rashida Jones (the writing debut for both actors), deftly directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind), and effortlessly…

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Sundance Preview: Documentary Premieres

Yes, the Paradise Lost films followed this story for years, and you could argue that they’ve said much of what there is to say about the West Memphis Three. But Amy Berg, who previously made the outstanding, Oscar-nominated doc Deliver Us From Evil (which was on my top ten list in 2006) is sure to have a compelling take on the topic that will make West of Memphis one of the docs to catch at Sundance this year.

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Sundance Preview: Premieres

I know, I know, another bride-themed movie. I hear you. But because Kirsten Dunst is in this, I have hope that Bachelorette will skew more toward Bridesmaids than Bride Wars. Fingers crossed.

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Sundance Preview: World Documentary Competition

Moved into boxing training centers, these boys and girls undergo a rigorous regimen that grooms them to be China’s next Olympic heroes but also prepares them for life outside the ring. As these young boxers develop, the allure of turning professional for personal gain and glory competes with the main philosophy behind their training—to represent their country. Interconnected with their story is that of their charismatic coach, Qi Moxiang, who—now in his late thirties and determined to win back lost honor—trains for a significant fight.

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Sundance Preview: World Dramatic Competition

With the World competitions, I often don’t know a lot about the directors, so I have to pretty much go by what looks interesting from the catalog descriptions. It can be a bit of a crapshoot, since those descriptions tend to make every film at the fest sound like the Next Big Thing, but hey,…

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Sundance Preview: US Documentary Competition

Also, a lawsuit’s been filed against the Sundance Institute for screening this film, to which the Institute basically said, “Screw you, rich people!” Which makes it automatically the most “must see” doc at a fest since Errol Morris’ Tabloid — which got WAY more interesting when Joyce McKinney started crashing fest screenings with her clone dog. If there’s a cloned pet somewhere in this story, it will be practically perfect.

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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