It’s that time of year again, where hundreds of film critics, industry people, and festival-goers descend on a normally pretty sleepy skiing town in Park City, Utah to survey the coming year in independent film and try to find what will become the next Sex, Lies and Videotape or Little Miss Sunshine.
Yes, it is time for the Sundance Film Festival, running from January 18 to January 28, which I — Vanyaland film editor Nick Johnston — will be attending for the very first time (editor’s note: yes, yes, he’s very excited). In between sponsored afterparties and cheap meals at the local Burger King, I’ll be seeing a wide variety of movies and writing about them for your enjoyment. Here’s just five of the films we’re really looking forward to at this year’s festival, with one from each of the main festival categories.
You might best know the Zellner Brothers from their last feature, the heartbreaking Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter which starred Rinko Kikuchi in a really bizarre and sad tale based on the true story of a Japanese woman who may or may not have been looking for the money from Fargo. Now, they’re back with something that sounds significantly happier: A weird Western romance that features Robert Forster, Robert Pattinson, and Mia Wasikowska and, apparently, a tiny horse. We’re excited to see the Zellners make their way into new territory, and equally excited by the cast they’ve assembled, though it’s a bit unnerving that they’re acting in it as well. Still, sounds more like Damn.-sel to us.
Yeah, we’re not writing about the Mr. Rogers doc because everybody knows that’s going to be a hit, so we figured we’d spotlight the new documentary from Lauren Greenfield, who you may know best as the director of 2012’s The Queen of Versailles. Generation Wealth spans the whole duration of her career as a portrait artist, and highlights the ways that, even though the form might have changed, the emptiness of materialism and rampant consumerism remains the same. Greenfield is a wonderful and empathetic filmmaker, even when documenting some of the most initially unlikable protagonists in the history of documentary filmmaking, and we’re ecstatic to see her new work.
This Midnight offering has a pretty killer longline: In 1983, a broken man (played by the one and only Nicolas Cage) attempts to hunt down the cult that killed his girl. That initial summary should get your attention, but this fact should truly pique your curiosity: Mandy is directed by Panos Cosmatos, whose previous film, Beyond the Black Rainbow, was, if not for all tastes, at least something well worth the time and effort it took to seek it out. Cosmatos has an incredible sense of visual style, Cage is Cage, and just from looking at the poster, we’re able to see a few fun references to that era of horror film — just look at the chainsaw duelists at the bottom and try not to squeal, Tobe Hooper fans — and we absolutely can’t wait to see this one.
I Think We’re Alone Now
We’re not gonna lie, this was the one movie from Indiewire’s list of potential Sundance titles that they published back in December that really stuck out to us. Why? Because the cast of this post-apocalyptic drama, though slight, is excellent. I Think We’re Alone Now takes place in a world in which the human race has died out, save for two people, a loner (Peter Dinklage) and an interloper (Elle Fanning). Director Reed Morano made a pretty big splash with his work on The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, and this is sure to fascinate people who enjoyed tales similar to this like Z for Zachariah or The Quiet Earth like we did (just don’t give away the ending on the poster like the latter, guys).
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn
Unwashed, debased perverts and midnight movie monsters were blown away by Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler when it premiered at Sundance two years ago, and his latest feature promises to do much of the same, though for a much wider audience. It is incredibly difficult to sum up the plot of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn just from the synopsis provided by Sundance themselves, so we’re going to just post that verbatim at the end of this blurb. It’s really fucking cool to see Hosking working with actors like Aubrey Plaza and Craig Robinson, and we honestly can’t wait to see this one. Now get your “I can’t believe this shit” glasses ready, folks:
“After getting fired by her scheming husband Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch) from his cappuccino shop, dissatisfied Lulu Danger (Aubrey Plaza) is stunned when a TV commercial for ‘An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn For One Magical Night Only’ reveals a mysterious man from her past (Craig Robinson). When Shane and his bumbling cohorts steal the cashbox from Lulu’s adopted vegan brother Adjay, specialist Colin (Jemaine Clement) enters the fray to retrieve the stolen funds. But Lulu seizes the opportunity to run off in search of her mystery man—and events only become stranger from there.”
Now that’s what we call a premise!