The full Sundance 2018 slate (110 films, 99 world premieres) was announced earlier today, including premieres. I think I’ll tackle it in stages — premieres and doc premieres today, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow and the next day.
The bottom line is that if a movie sounds too Sundance-y, I’m going to say “naaah” for now. Which doesn’t mean I won’t eventually warm to it. I just think that Sundance-y movies are too sensitive, too deferring to the p.c. norm, too touchy-feely. They’ve become a self-defined genre or brand unto themselves.
The premieres that Hollywood Elsewhere is most looking forward to:
Beirut (Director: Brad Anderson, Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy) — A U.S. diplomat flees Lebanon in 1972 after a tragic incident at his home. Ten years later, he is called back to war-torn Beirut by CIA operatives to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind. Cast: Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Shea Whigham, Dean Norris.
Colette (U.K. – director: Wash Westmoreland) — A young country woman marries a famous literary entrepreneur in turn-of-the-century Paris: At her husband’s request, Colette pens a series of bestselling novels published under his name. But as her confidence grows, she transforms not only herself and her marriage, but the world around her. Cast: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Elinor Tomlinson, Aiysha Hart.
The Catcher Was a Spy…naaah….Come Sunday…naaah….Damsel…naaah.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot (Director: Gus Van Sant) — John Callahan has a talent for off-color jokes…and a drinking problem. When a bender ends in a car accident, Callahan wakes permanently confined to a wheelchair. In his journey back from rock bottom, Callahan finds beauty and comedy in the absurdity of human experience. Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black.
Futile and Stupid Gesture (Director: David Wain) — The story of comedy wunderkind DougKenney, who co-created the NationalLampoon, Caddyshack and AnimalHouse. Kenney was at the center of the 70‘s comedy counter- culture which gave birth to SaturdayNightLive and a whole generation’s way of looking at the world. Cast: Will Forte, Martin Mull, Domhnall Gleeson, Matt Walsh, Joel McHale, Emmy Rossum.
The Happy Prince (Director and screenwriter: Rupert Everett) — The last days of Oscar Wilde are brought to vivid life. His body ailing, Wilde lives in exile, surviving on the flamboyant irony and brilliant wit that defined him as the transience of lust is laid bare and the true riches of love are revealed. Cast: Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Rupert Everett. Hearts Beat Loud (Director: Brett Haley) — In Red Hook, Brooklyn, a father and daughter become an unlikely songwriting duo in the last summer before she leaves for college. Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette.
Juliet, Naked (U.K. – Director: Jesse Peretz) — Annie is the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan, an obsessive fan of obscure rocker Tucker Crowe. When the acoustic demo of Tucker’s celebrated record from 25 years ago surfaces, its release leads to an encounter with the elusive rocker himself. Based on the novel by Nick Hornby. Cast: Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd.
A Kid Like Jake…naaah.
Ophelia (U.K. – Director: Claire McCarthy) — A mythic spin on Hamlet through a lens of female empowerment: Ophelia comes of age as lady-in-waiting for Queen Gertrude, and her singular spirit captures Hamlet’s affections. As lust and betrayal threaten the kingdom, Ophelia finds herself trapped between true love and controlling her own destiny. Cast: Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton, Devon Terrell.
Puzzle (Director: Marc Turtletaub) — Agnes, taken for granted as a suburban mother, discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles which unexpectedly draws her into a new world – where her life unfolds in ways she could never have imagined. Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman, Bubba Weiler, Austin Abrams, Liv Hewson.
Untitled Debra Granik Project…naaah.
What They Had (Director and screenwriter: Elizabeth Chomko)…Alzheimer’s…naaah.
The premier docs that HE is most looking forward to:
Bad Reputation (Director: Kevin Kerslake) — A look at the life of Joan Jett, from her early years as the founder of The Runaways and first meeting collaborator Kenny Laguna in 1980 to her enduring presence in pop culture as a rock ’n’ roll pioneer.
Chef Flynn (Director: Cameron Yates) — Ten-year-old Flynn transforms his living room into a supper club, using his classmates as line cooks and serving a tasting menu foraged from his neighbors‘ backyards. With sudden fame, Flynn outgrows his bedroom kitchen and mother’s camera, and sets out to challenge the hierarchy of the culinary world.
The Game Changers (Director: Louie Psihoyos) — James Wilks, an elite special forces trainer and winner of The Ultimate Fighter, embarks on a quest for the truth in nutrition and uncovers the world’s most dangerous myth.
Generation Wealth (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Lauren Greenfield‘s postcard from the edge of the American Empire captures a portrait of a materialistic, image-obsessed culture. Simultaneously personal journey and historical essay, the film bears witness to the global boom–bust economy, the corrupted American Dream and the human costs of late stage capitalism, narcissism and greed.
Half the Picture…naaah.
Jane Fonda in Five Acts (Director: Susan Lacy) — Girl next door, activist, so-called traitor, fitness tycoon, Oscar winner: Jane Fonda has lived a life of controversy, tragedy and transformation – and she’s done it all in the public eye. An intimate look at one woman’s singular journey.
King In The Wilderness (Director: Peter Kunhardt) — From the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. remained a man with an unshakeable commitment to nonviolence in the face of an increasingly unstable country. A portrait of the last years of his life.
Quiet Heroes (Director: Jenny Mackenzie) — In Salt Lake City, Utah, the socially conservative religious monoculture complicated the AIDS crisis, where patients in the entire state and intermountain region relied on only one doctor. This is the story of her fight to save a maligned population everyone else seemed willing to just let die.
RBG (Directors and producers: Betsy West, Julie Cohen) — An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers show how her early legal battles changed the world for women. Now this 84-year-old does push-ups as easily as she writes blistering dissents that have earned her the title — Notorious RBG.‖
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Director: Marina Zenovich) — This intimate portrait examines one of the world‘s most beloved and inventive comedians. Told largely through Robin‘s own voice and using a wealth of never-before-seen archive, the film takes us through his extraordinary life and career and reveals the spark of madness that drove him.
Studio 54 (Director: Matt Tyrnauer) — Studio 54 was the pulsating epicenter of 1970s hedonism: a disco hothouse of beautiful people, drugs, and sex. The journeys of Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell — two best friends from Brooklyn who conquered New York City — frame this history of the “greatest club of all time.”
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Director: Morgan Neville) — Fred Rogers used puppets and play to explore complex social issues: race, disability, equality and tragedy, helping form the American concept of childhood. He spoke directly to children and they responded enthusiastically. Yet today, his impact is unclear. Have we lived up to Fred’s ideal of good neighbors?