Saturday, January 17, 2009

FILM: Sundance Film Festival 2009 Picks

Even though sometimes a celebrity-less indie can become a cult classic, like Slumdog Millionaire, it's always nice to know about the ones that are star-studded. Here's a rundown of them, with stars for my recommended:

COMEDY
*Adventureland: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr (Knocked Up and "Freaks & Geeks"), Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
Plot: "A comedy set in the summer of 1987 and centered around a recent college grad who takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world."

Arlen Faber: Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls"), Lou Taylor Pucci (Fifty Pills and Thumbsucker), Olivia Thirlby (Juno and The Wackness), Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist)
Plot: "A reclusive author of spiritual books, is pursued for advice by a single mother and a man fresh out of rehab."

*Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: Julianne Nicholson (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), John Krasinski ("The Office"), Bobby Cannavale ("Will & Grace"), Timothy Hutton ("Leverage"), Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia), Christopher Meloni ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"); Directed by Krasinski
Plot: "A graduate student copes with a recent breakup by conducting interviews with various men."

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle: Marshall Allman ("Prison Break"), Natasha Lyonne (American Pie), Tania Raymonde ("Lost")
Plot: "After he loses his high-paying job, Dory takes a gig as a night janitor in order to pay rent. Alone late at night inside a market research firm, he soon discovers the company is experimenting on their other janitors..."
Manure: Billy Bob Thornton, Téa Leoni, Kyle MacLachlan ("Desperate Housewives")
Plot: "When a tragic accident ends the life of Mr. Rose, the genius behind Rose's Manure Company, the livelihood of its loyal fleet of salesmen threatens to go, as they say, into the toilet. Enter estranged daughter Rosemary, a high-class cosmetics salesgirl, who steps in to take control. She is not sure she has a nose for the family business, but she is determined to make foul into profit. Little does she know that a ruthless, slick-talking fertilizer rep is plotting a takeover. Whether she likes it or not, she must trust her top salesman, Patrick Fitzpatrick, to devise a plan to regain Rose's rightful position on top of the heap."

Motherhood: Uma Thurman, Anthony Edwards ("ER"), Minnie Driver
Plot: "In Manhattan, a mother of two preparing for her daughter's sixth birthday party has no idea of the challenges she's about to face in order to pull off the event."

*Paper Heart: Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) and Michael Cera
Plot: A look at the relationship between two young actors.

*Rudo y Cursi: Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal; Written and directed by Carlos Cuaron, brother to Alfonso (Children of Men).
Plot: "Two siblings rival each other inside the world of professional soccer."

*Spread: Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva (The Invisible and "Vanished"), Rachel Blanchard ("Clueless"), Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Plot: It's "a hard biting story about a high-end lethario, Nikki (Kutcher), who has slept his way into a life of privilege. He shares his secrets with us as he hosts parties and beds scores of women, all while living it up at the Hollywood Hills home of a middle-aged female attorney, Samantha (Heche). Everything is going swimmingly until Nikki meets a gorgeous waitress named Heather (Levieva), who, unbeknownst to him, is playing the same game that he is. As the truth of their life unravels, they find themselves sexually charged by a game of one-upsmanship that has them dining at fine restaurants and crashing posh parties, until the truth of their lives forces them to choose between love and money."

*Spring Breakdown: Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, Rachel Dratch ("SNL"), Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia"), Jane Lynch (Role Models), Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest)
Plot: "Three women vacation together at a popular travel destination for college co-eds on spring break."

*Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy: Chris Rock, Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chappelle, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Mo'Nique, Eddie Griffin, Russell Simmons, Wanda Sykes, Damon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Katt Williams, and more

*The Winning Season: Sam Rockwell, Emma Roberts ("Unfabulous" and Nancy Drew), Rob Corddry (What Happens in Vegas), Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson)
Plot: "A comedy centered on a has-been coach who is given a shot at redemption when he's asked to run his local high school's girls basketball team."

*World's Greatest Dad: Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids), Alexie Gilmore ("New Amsterdam")
Plot: "Lance is a high school teacher who protects his family from shame following the embarrassing accidental death of his son. Lance writes a fake suicide note to cover up the death, but without permission the note is published and becomes an unexpected hit. Keen to be a successful author, Lance produces an entire journal which he passes off as his son's."

*500 Days of Summer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man)
Plot: "An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her."


DRAMEDY
Cold Souls: Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum), Emily Watson (The Water Horse), Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under")
Plot: "An exploration of a man in search of his soul."

*I Love Your Phillip Morris: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann (Knocked Up), Rodrigo Santoro ("Lost" and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle)
Plot: "The movie is a true story of Steven Russell (Carrey), a married father whose exploits landed him in the Texas criminal justice system. He fell madly in love with his cellmate (McGregor), who eventually was set free, which led Russell to escape from Texas prisons four times."

The Missing Person: Michael Shannon (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Amy Ryan ("The Office" and Gone Baby Gone), Frank Wood ("The Flight of the Conchords")
Plot: "Private detective John Rosow is hired to tail a man on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles. Rosow gradually uncovers the man's identity as a missing person; one of the thousands presumed dead after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Persuaded by a large reward, Rosow is charged with bringing the missing person back to his wife in New York City."

*The Vicious Kind: Brittany Snow (Finding Amand and John Tucker Must Die), Adam Scott (Monster-in-Law), J.K. Simmons ("The Closer"), Alex Frost (Drillbit Taylor and Elephant)
Plot: "A man becomes obsessed with the girlfriend his brother brings home for Thanksgiving."


DRAMA
Against the Current: Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Justin Kirk ("Weeds"), Elizabeth Reaser ("Grey's Anatomy" and "The Ex List"), Mary Tyler Moore, Michelle Trachtenberg ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Gossip Girl"), Pell James (Undiscovered)
Plot: "Struggling with a tragic past, a man with an urgent calling enlists two friends to help him swim the length of the Hudson River."

Big Fan: Patton Oswalt ("King of Queens"), Michael Rapaport ("Prison Break"), Kevin Corrigan ("Grounded for Life")
Plot: "Paul Aufiero, a hardcore New York Giants football fan, struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player."

Dare: Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera), Zach Gilford ("Friday Night Lights"), Ana Gasteyer ("SNL"), Alan Cumming (X-Men), Sandra Bernhard ("Roseanne")
Plot: "The good girl, the outsider and the bad boy...like you've never seen them before."

An Education: Peter Sarsgaard, BBC actress Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Emma Thompson; Written by Nick Hornby.
Plot: "A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age."

Endgame: William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mark Strong (Stardust), Jonny Lee Miller ("Eli Stone")
Plot: "A story based on the covert discussions that brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa."

The Greatest: Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, BBC actress Carey Mulligan, Johnny Simmons (Hotel for Dogs), Michael Shannon (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead)
Plot: "A drama that is centered around a troubled teenage girl and a family that is trying to get over the loss of their son."

It Might Get Loud: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White
Plot: "A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians."

*Lymelife: Alec Baldwin, Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down), Rory Culkin (Mean Creek), Jill Hennessy ("Crossing Jordan"), Timothy Hutton ("Leverage"), Cynthia Nixon ("Sex and the City"), Emma Roberts ("Unfabulous" and Nancy Drew)
Plot: "Set in the late 70's, seen through the innocent eyes of a fifteen year old boy, Scott, it's a unique take on the dangers of the American Dream. This funny, sad, violent and sometimes tragic look at first love, family dynamics and divorce weaves an intricate tapestry of American life during a time of drastic economic and emotional change."

The Messenger: Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton (Minority Report), Jena Malone (Into the Wild)
Plot: "An American soldier struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer."

La MISSION: Benjamin Bratt, Erika Alexander ("Living Single"), Jesse Borrego ("Dexter"), Talisa Soto Bratt (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation); Directed by Bratt's brother Peter.
Plot: "Set in the colorful, seedy streets of the San Francisco district that bears its name, La MISSION is a story of redemption imbued with the curative power of Aztec tradition."

Peter and Vandy: Jason Ritter ("The Class"), Jess Weixler (Teeth), Jesse L. Martin (Rent), Tracie Thoms (Rent)
Plot: It "is a love story told out of order. Set in Manhattan, the story shifts back and forth in time, juxtaposing Peter and Vandy's romantic beginnings with the twisted, manipulative, regular couple they become. The film explores the question most couples ask themselves... 'How the hell did we get this way?'"

Push (Based on the novel by Sapphire): Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton (Deja Vu), Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd ("The View"), Lenny Kravitz
Plot: "In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction."

Shrink: Kevin Spacey, Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee and The Longshots), Mark Webber (Snow Day), Dallas Roberts ("The L Word"), Saffron Burrows ("My Own Worst Enemy")
Plot: "Unable to cope with a recent personal tragedy, LA's top celebrity shrink turns into a pothead with no concern for his appearance and a creeping sense of his inability to help his patients."

Taking Chance: Kevin Bacon
Plot: "Based on real-life events, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming."


ACTION/CRIME/THRILLER
Brooklyn's Finest: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin, Jesse Williams (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2), Lili Taylor ("State of Mind" and "Six Feet Under")
Plot: "Three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location after enduring vastly different career paths."

The Informers: Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Jon Foster ("Life as We Know It" and Life As a House), Amber Heard (Never Back Down)
Plot: "A multi-strand narrative set in early 1980's Los Angeles, centered on an array of characters who represent both the top of the heap (a Hollywood dream merchant, a dissolute rock star, an aging newscaster) and the bottom (a voyeuristic doorman, an amoral ex-con). Connecting the intertwining strands are a group of beautiful, blonde young men and women who sleep all day and party all night, doing drugs -- and one another --with abandon, never realizing that they are dancing on the edge of a volcano."

*The Killing Room: Chloë Sevigny, Peter Stormare ("Prison Break" and Constantine), Clea DuVall (The Faculty), Timothy Hutton ("Leverage"), Nick Cannon, Shea Whigham (Man of the House)
Plot: "Four individuals sign up for a psychological research study only to discover that they are now subjects of a brutal, classified government program."

Moon: Sam Rockwell (Choke) and Kevin Spacey
Plot: "Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter while stranded on the moon for a three-year period."


TAKE A LOOK at a few unknowns
Don't Let Me Drown: "In a post-September 11th world overflowing with fear and hate, two Latino teens discover that sometimes the only thing that can keep them from drowning is love."

Sin Nombre: "The stories of Sayra, a teenager living in Honduras and hungering for a brighter future, and teen gang members Smiley and Casper, for whom the Mara Salvatrucha is nearly their entire universe, become interlaced on the train to the border, a journey that will determine the future of their lives."

Unmade Beds: "When wide-eyed Spaniard Axl comes to London on a quest for the father who abandoned him, he lands in the middle of a creative hotbed—an underground polyglot squat filled with colorful free spirits. Among them is Vera, a beautiful Belgian girl recently dumped by her boyfriend, who seeks to restore her faith in romantic destiny after meeting a charismatic stranger. As Axl and Vera separately pursue these bittersweet and elusive connections, they circle each other's orbits—their fates almost inevitably intertwined."

For a full list of the grand event happening in Park City, Utah from Jan. 15th - Jan. 25th, click here!

2 comments:

  1. AGAINST THE CURRENT....starring Elizabeth Reaser...you forgot to say that she's in TWILIGHT...only one of the biggest movies of the year with a sequel due in Nov of this year

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