The Sundance Film Festival is the premiere place for cinema buffs to soak in films rooted in every corner of the globe. Movies that dabble in every genre and utilize every stylistic trick in the book. The fest also provides a glimpse into the future: although most of the films that play at Sundance arrive without big name distributors attached to them, rarely do they walk away without a company primed and ready to release them to the general public. Meaning, if you're not at Sundance now, you'll be watching the movies one way or another before the year's end.
Sundance 2013 follows the buying trend, with a handful of movies being picked up by movie studios in the last 24 hours. Here is the first wave of festival purchases — indicating these movies are right around the corner for you to see.
Daniel Radcliffe washed away any memories of Harry Potter, thrilling us in the Beat poetry-infused Kill Your Darlings. Sony Pictures Classics obviously felt the same way, as they've purchased the film, which also stars Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Jack Huston, and Elizabeth Olsen, for an unknown release date (but put your money on the fall or winter — this one could have award season legs).
The Way, Way Back, feature directorial debut of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the Academy Award-winning writers of The Descendents, was buzzing up a storm after its premiere at Sundance, many comparing it to the uber-successful Little Miss Sunshine. Further strengthening the analogy, the film has been bought by LMS studio Fox Searchlight for the pretty penny of $10 million. The movie stars Steve Carell, Toni Colette, and Sam Rockwell.
We praised the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge for her work in Austenland earlier this week, and now the film has found a home at Sony Pictures Classics. SPC bought the film $4 million and will release the Keri Russell-led comedy this summer. Expect the name of Austenland's producer, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, to be on all of the posters.
The Weinstein Company is always on the hunt for potential Academy Award contenders, and it may have found one in Fruitvale. The true story focuses on police brutality and sports a performance by young star Michael B. Jordan that is wowing audiences. In a press release, studio mastermind Harvey Weinstein said of Fruitvale, "I was completely amazed by this incredible film. This earth-shattering story is one that needs to be told, and we are honored to be able to share Oscar’s story with audiences everywhere." Oscar's story indeed.
Will audiences turn out to see Naomi Watts and Robin Wright sleep with each other's kids? Exclusive Releasing hopes so, as they've picked up the drama Two Mothers, which will roll out in limited release this summer.
CBS Films has picked up the throwback comedy Toy's House, which conjured up memories of movies like The Goonies and Stand By Me when it premiered earlier this week. The movie stars Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, and a number of kids ready to break out.
Lovelace, a biopic of Deep Throat headliner Linda Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried, only premiered in the late hours of Tuesday night. But that didn't stop it from being quickly snatched up, with Weinstein Company's multi-platform offshoot company Radius picking it up. Like last year's Bachelorette, expect Lovelace to pop up on VOD before making its way to theaters.
In the genre market, eOne has bought the distribution rights for the frightening horror remake We Are What We Are. No word on when the midnight movie may make its way to theaters. What's the best month for cannibal movies?
Finally, we reported earlier this week that Relativity picked up Joseph Gordon-Levitt's porn-infused feature debut Don Jon's Addiction, with a promise to pour major bucks into its release. Another Sundance movie targeted for a strategic summer release.
[Photo Credit: R. O'Neil/INFphoto]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.