Welcome to the world of the "press junket " that fascinating media circus where the press is invited to view a film before its opening and interview the people who made it. In this case the "stars" are Eddie Thomas and Gwen Harrison (John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones) a megastar Hollywood couple publicly on the outs. Their last film together is being held hostage by the highly eccentric director Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken) so studio head Dave Kingman (Stanley Tucci) enlists the help of studio publicist extraordinaire Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal) to save the day. Lee needs to generate enough "buzz" to ensure the movie is a smash success by using any means possible including involving Kiki (Julia Roberts) Gwen's put-upon sister and assistant in a love triangle with Gwen and Eddie. The thing is Kiki has secretly been in love with Eddie for years and this becomes just the chance she's been hoping for.
With this stellar cast it can't get much better. Roberts hot off her Oscar win follows up with another finely tuned comedic performance. Her Kiki goes from plain Jane to spunky spitfire in a minute flat with hilarious results--and Roberts has the requisite chemistry with Cusack who prides himself on picking quality films that let him shine. No one is better than Cusack at displaying angst while at the same time falling in love. As Kiki's superstar sister Gwen Zeta-Jones oozes comfortably in her diva role (maybe a little too comfortably?) and has the unfortunate task of playing the unsympathetic character. She handles the part fine but she might not have done so well on her own without the support of a strong comedic cast. Tucci's studio head and Hank Azaria as a hunky Spaniard are superb. And then there's Walken. Maybe playing the eccentric is a cakewalk for him but his presence elevates any film.
Crystal who cowrote and produced the film and former Disney-head-turned-director Joe Roth hit the nail right on the head. But hey this is easy stuff folks. Industry players parodying themselves isn't rocket science. The only flaw could be that the film might be too "inside" for the average moviegoer with some of the really funny jokes going over their heads. But it's minor. There is enough going for the film to make it a big hit. Ironically Roberts' personal life is somewhat mirrored in the film due to her own public breakup with Benjamin Bratt which may make a difference at the box office.
Besides the elbow-rubbing and power mongering, let's not forget that the Sundance Film Festival is also about the films.
With that in mind, the annual indie film fest announced today its partial list of films for the 2001 powwow.
The lineup for three categories -- dramas, documentaries and the American Spectrum -- have thus far been announced, and other areas such as premiere, international films and short films will be announced Wednesday.
Films at the festival only compete in the dramatic and documentary categories. Top films coming out of Sundance in previous years include Ed Burns' "The Brothers McMullen" and last year's "Girlfight" from director Karyn Kusama.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.
In the meantime, here's the complete list of Sundance films in competition and in the American Spectrum.
"30 Years to Life," directed by Vanessa Middleton "American Astronaut," directed by Cory McAbee "The Believer," directed by Henry Bean "The Business of Strangers," directed by Patrick Stettner "The Deep End," directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel "Donnie Darko," directed by Richard Kelly "Green Dragon," directed by Timothy Linh Bui "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," directed by John Cameron Mitchell "In the Bedroom," directed by Todd Field "L.I.E.," directed by Michael Cuesta "Lift," directed by DeMane Davis & Khari Streeter "MacArthur Park," directed by Billy Wirth "Memento," directed by Christopher Nolan "Scotland, PA," directed by Billy Morrissette "The Sleepy Time Gal," directed by Christopher Munch "Some Body," directed by Henry Barrial
"Chain Camera," directed by Kirby Dick "Children Underground," directed by Edet Belzberg "Dogtown and the Z-Boys," directed by Stacy Peralta "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic," directed by George Butler "Go Tigers!" directed by Kenneth A. Carlson "Home Movie," directed by Chris Smith "Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton," directed by Susan Froemke, Deborah Dickson with "Albert Maysles Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind," directed by Stanley Nelson "The Natural History of the Chicken," directed by Mark Lewis "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey," directed by William Greaves "Scout's Honor," directed by Tom Shepard "Scratch," directed by Doug Pray "Southern Comfort," directed by Kate Davis "Startup.com," directed by Chris Hegedus & Jehane Noujaim "Trembling Before G-D," directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski "An Unfinished Symphony," directed by Bestor Cram & Mike Majoro
"Acts of Worship," directed by Rosemary Rodriguez "After Image," directed by Robert Manganelli "Dancing in September," directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood "Diary of a City Priest," directed by Eugene Martin "The Doe Boy," directed by Randy Redroad "Haiku Tunnel," directed by Jacob Kornbluth & Josh Kornbluth "Invisible Revolution," directed by Beverly Peterson "Jump Tomorrow," directed by Joel Hopkins "Manic," directed by Jordan Melamed "Margarita Happy Hour," directed by Ilya Chaiken "Miss Wonton," directed by Meng Ong "Raw Deal: A Question of Consent," directed by Billy Corben "Roof to Roof," directed by Ara Corbett "Women in Film," directed by Bruce Wagner "Tape," directed by Richard Linklater "Wet Hot American Summer," directed by David Wain.