With the Sundance Film Festival officially starting its yearly reign of cinematic pleasure today, it only makes sense to look at some of the films the festival has to offer. The trek to Park City, Utah where the festival is held is regarded by many to be the most fun film geeks have all year. The experience is basically ten days of nonstop movies and celebrity sightings. And if you feel like taking a break there’s always a chance to hit the ski slopes around the corner.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival marks a big departure from years past for two reasons, there is a new programming director at the helm and as a result the fest is focusing on smaller films. Those looking for huge celebrity sightings will definitely get them but in terms of the lavish premieres, those will be reduced this year.
The following is a brief look at the big premieres the festival is offering its first weekend. There will be more updates and reviews as the festival gets underway but for now here is an alphabetized look at the cream of the crop for the first weekend of Sundance 2010.
This hipster romantic drama stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple struggling to keep their relationship alive. The film shows the couple in the present and in the past during happier times, highlighting the best and worst of these two lovers.
Ryan Reynolds does a one-man show as a U.S. citizen working on a government contract in Iraq. In the middle of his assignment he finds himself kidnapped and buried inside a coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone to meet the kidnapper’s demands. With time and oxygen running out he must race to save himself or become trapped inside the wooden coffin.
THE COMPANY MEN
The timely directorial debut from John Wells stars Ben Affleck as a laid off worker who must struggle to keep his family together during a tough economic downturn. The A-list ensemble cast also includes Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones.
Tension and discomfort is on the menu in the new film from the Duplass Brothers who made The Puffy Chair and Baghead. John (John C. Reilly) is a lonely middle-aged man who can’t believe his luck when he starts dating the beautiful Molly (Marisa Tomei). They get along great and things seem to be going in the right direction until Molly’s 21 year-old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill) gets in the middle of the happy couple.
The ensemble film juggles the complicated lives of six New Yorkers as their lives intersect with love, tragedy and other complications. Josh Radnor, one of the stars of TV’s How I Met Your Mother stars and also makes his directorial debut with this film.
JACK GOES BOATING
Character actor Philip Seymour Hoffman stars and also steps behind the director’s chair in the independent love story set against the backdrop of blue-collar New York City life. The film is also based on a stage play of the same name and Hoffman’s supporting cast includes Amy Ryan, John Ortiz and Tom McCarthy.
This quirky documentary follows a handful of lottery winners and the aftermath of winning all those millions. Is it really a blessing or more of a curse?
Nicole Holofcener returns to Sundance after debuting her last several features to audience acclaim. Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt star as a married couple who are planning to expand their two-bedroom apartment and decide to buy the unit next door but the only catch is they have to wait for the elderly woman living next door to die first. Complications arise when the couple begin to get attached to the old lady.
One of the highest profile films at the festival spotlights the ups and downs of the ‘70’s rock group The Runaways, specifically the love-hate relationship between Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. The mostly female ensemble includes Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Tatum O’Neal and Michael Shannon.
Messing with mother nature turns out to have serious repercussions for two scientists (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) who genetically engineer an alien creature partly using human DNA. When the creature becomes aware of his surroundings all hell breaks loose. Director Vincenzo Natali has an amazing eye for atmosphere and producer Guillermo Del Toro doesn’t have a shabby track record either so this could be a crowd pleaser.
One of the strongest documentaries at the festival explores the live of a teenage kid who has decided to become a professional paparazzo. The details and reasons why chasing celebrities appeals to him should make for a strong hook.