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Tag: Sundance Film Festival (31-40 of 90)

Sundance Diary: Michael Haneke, I'm sending you my shrink bill

Funnygames_lI had a rough night last night, PopWatchers. Against my better judgment, I went to a midnight screening of Funny Games. I’m still in shock and probably will be for some time to come.

I really have no one to blame but myself. I knew what I was in for. A few years ago, my husband was watching Michael Haneke’s original German-language Funny Games, in which two young men terrorize a family in their country home. He suggested I stay away from the film, since I have a very low tolerance for brutality and cruelty in entertainment (and, of course, in real life, too). So I never watched it. But here at Sundance, I somehow convinced myself that I would be able to handle Haneke’s new, shot-for-shot remake of his own movie, this time starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth (watch the trailer here). Honestly, I was curious. So I joined Greg Kirschling and Christine Spines at the Egyptian Theater. I took an aisle seat, in case I needed to leave without disturbing the rest of the audience. I wish I had.


Sundance BuzzCheck: Michelle Williams' eerie "Incendiary"

Incendiarymichellewilliams_lMichelle Williams’ performance as a grieving wife in the Sundance drama Incendiary (pictured) was already intensely poignant, but by Tuesday afternoon, as word of Heath Ledger’s death spread across Park City, it took on an eerie new meaning for those who’d seen it. In the film, Williams — Ledger’s real-life ex and mother of their young daughter, Matilda — plays a woman who loses her husband and child in a London terrorist attack.

The screening I went to on Monday seemed to spark a lot of interest (spotted in the audience were Christine Vachon, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, and Elvis Mitchell); afterward, I spoke with director Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary) about how people who have lost someone in their lives could really connect with what Williams’ character was going through. "Somehow we always tend to talk about grief in the abstract. Her very point is to make people understand that it’s not in the abstract. It’s a very real thing."

Maguire added that the death of her father at the age of 18 was a source of inspiration. "I grew up Catholic…and I was caught up in that whole dichotomy of like, ‘He’s gone somewhere better, but his cardigan is still hanging up in the bathroom and I can smell it. Is he in heaven? Is there a heaven? He’s not coming back, I know that much.’ Death is very final."


Sundance Diary: Days 6 and 7 (or: Man, it just got cold!)

Overheard at the press screening for Momma’s Man, 8:57 a.m., January 23rd: "It’s Wednesday. Who’s still here, ya know?"

Howdy from Park City, PopWatchers, where I’m sitting in the now-celebrity-free photo studio as the video crew watches Clive Owen hunch about in Derailed on the HP big-screen and we hungrily await our Thai food. It’s oddly quiet here, despite the movie’s presence — and hey, look! I just summed up the last two days of Sundance!

With the tragic news about Heath Ledger yesterday, the festival —  which was already slowing down —  officially became a little bit desolate. The streets have emptied out, the swag shops have closed, the weather has turned clear and frigid, and, with the exception of the high-wattage Raisin in the Sun cast —  Sean Combs, Sanaa Lathan, Audra McDonald, John Stamos, and Phylicia Rashad, who, when assembled on our couch, damn near made me pass out from their conglomerated attractiveness —  most of the stars have headed home.

This is my favorite time at Sundance, if I’m allowed to have a favorite time after just two years in attendance. If you’re still in town, you pretty much just want to watch the moving pictures, not the shiny people. Even better: After my screening of the Palestinian rap documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop tonight (and my interview with ROCK LEGEND NEIL YOUNG tomorrow), my professional obligations here will be largely complete, and I can just start seeing stuff I want to see. Of course, I’ve done a bit of that today, too. After the jump, we cover yesterday’s slightly shell-shocked events, and the somewhat less emotionally awkward activities of today. Come with me, won’t you, my darling pocket peeps?


Sundance BuzzCheck™: 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Raisininthesundiddy_lI just got back from this evening’s premiere of A Raisin in the Sun. The film — based on Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play about a poor African-American family living in 1950s — screened here at Sundance in advance of its Feb. 25th airing on ABC. The audience couldn’t have been more excited to see the cast (Sean Combs, Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan, and Phylicia Rashad, all of whom were in the play’s 2004 Broadway revival) in the flesh. Camera flashes strobed nonstop as they entered before the movie started, and a standing ovation capped the closing credits. When post-show Q&A time came, viewers gushed over young star Justin Martin, who put the mic to his chest to show how fast his heart was beating. But the star everyone seemed particularly excited to see was Rashad. Every time the actress gave that mischievous you-better-not-be-messing-with-me look in Raisin, the crowd snickered with delight. And when the erstwhile Clair Huxtable took the stage to talk about what the remake meant to her, she received a standing-O of her own. Stay tuned for more from the cast, who I talked to this morning…

addCredit(“Kwaku Alston”)

Sundance BuzzCheck™: The festival's top seller, 'Hamlet 2'

Cooganhamlet2_lTo sell ornot to sell? That has been the question dogging every fledgling filmmaker atthis year’s Sundance Film Festival, where sales have been remarkably slow. But it wasn’t a concern for the producers of Hamlet 2 — thebizarro comic farce about an about an eccentric high school drama teacher (SteveCoogan, pictured) who tries to save his drama program and his marriage to his fed-up wife(Catherine Keener) with his production of a sequel to Shakespeare’s masterwork. Their quandary was more about how much to sell their movie for, and to whom.

The raucous comedy had been the subject of tremendous buzz coming into Sundance…before it was even completed, and without a mere mention in the event’s catalogue. Indeed, the unfinished film was such a late entry into the festival that Park City’s primary premiere location, the Eccles Center, was fully booked. But that didn’t stop Hamlet 2 from knocking Sundance out of its mid-festival doldrums with a rowdydebut screening Monday night at the Library Center theater. The room erupted in hystericsabout two minutes into the show, and things stayed that way for nearly two hours.

Afterward,Harvey Weinstein hovered by the door, ready to kick off thedeal-making. He was far from alone. Producer Eric Eisner, whose L+E picturesfinanced the film, fielded offers "from all the usual suspects," including FoxSearchlight and Lionsgate. But it wasn’t until after he spent the whole night hashing things out at the bargaining table in his condo that he finally settled on adeal to sell the worldwide rights to Focus Features for an astronomical $10million — one of the highest sums ever fetched by any movie in thehistory of Sundance. Eisner insists it wasn’t simply Focus’ deep pocketsthat helped that distributor win the bidding war. "We love their whole overall approach tomarketing and filmmaking," says Eisner, who will confess that Hamlet 2outperformed even his high expectations. "It’s been quite a ride. Now it wouldbe nice to get some sleep." —Christine Spines (with additional reporting by Missy Schwartz)

addCredit(“Frank Micelotta/Getty Images”)

'U2 3D': It's coming to your town

U2vertigo_lOne of the buzziest films from the first half of Sundance was U2 3D, a very self-explanatory concert film that only showed twice here in Park City, but whose impact was big — largely due to the presence of Bono and the boys. Only in town for 36 hours, they made the most of it, successfully filling my Saturday with a series of (ultimately futile) attempts to at some point get into their personal space, and filling the streets with camera-toting hordes hoping for a glimpse of the Irishmen. I’d originally been told they weren’t going to be in town, and by the time I fought through the rumor mill to the truth, it was far too late: I was shut out of the pre-premiere dinner, the screening occurred during our own EW party, and by the time I was offered a 1 a.m. ride to the after-party, I’d come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the members of U2 should stay as happy figments of my imagination. There’s something to be said for a little mystery.

But unlike most of the films at Sundance this year, U2 3D won’t be a mystery for long, PopWatchers: It rolls out in IMAX 3D theaters around the country today, followed by digital 3D theaters in mid-February. After the jump, some info about the movie, and thoughts from its producers and director — and me. Uno… dos… tres… catorce…

addCredit(“U2: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com”)


Sundance audience reacts to Heath Ledger's passing

Tuesday evening’s screening of August was marred during the post-show Q&A when an I-can-only-assume-journalist sitting behind me decided to use the second question to ask star Josh Hartnett for his reaction to the death of Heath Ledger. To its credit, the audience responded immediately with boos, jeers, and shouts of “COME ON,” and a festival volunteer approached the man, trying to get him to drop the subject. But he persisted, yelling over the crowd until Hartnett had no choice but to take the microphone and quietly call Ledger’s death a great loss to the movie industry. The actor then continued the rest of the Q&A — which included at least one cry of “You were fantastic!” from the crowd — with an impressive level of professionalism, considering.

Walking out of the screening, I was struck by how sick and conflicted I had become. Far be it from me to pass judgment on how another reporter does their job, as I cannot know the circumstances surrounding that individual’s decision to ask a very private question in a very public forum. I can only hope his career was on the line. Meanwhile, my heart goes out to the friends and colleagues of Ledger who are still at Sundance tonight. Let’s hope people remember their humanity as the necessary work of covering his passing goes on.

Sundance BuzzCheck™: 'August'

August_l_2August, the second film from XX/XY directorAustin Chick, premiered to a vibrating crowd at the Library Center theater on Tuesday: The audience’s enthusiasm spilled over into the first five minutes of the movie as they applauded the opening credits. Starring JoshHartnett (pictured), Adam Scott, Robin Tunney — and featuring a perfect cameo from DavidBowie — the film is a sort of Boiler Room for the dot-com era, chronicling theboom and historically inevitable bust of a startup called Landshark in themonth leading up to the 9/11 attacks. It’s visually stylized andhas a nice, jittery score, but is perhaps most notable for Hartnett’sstrong performance as Landshark’s CEO (think JerryMaguire/Magnolia-style Tom Cruise). —Whitney Pastorek

Sundance Guest Blogger: George Lopez

Georgelopez_lLook who stopped by the photo studio today: George Lopez, star of one of Sundance’s first big sales, Henry Poole Is Here! Vanessa "Ciudad" Juarez was so excited when he walked in, because her quest to find her "people" here in Park City is finally complete. And so, without further ado…

okay everybody … my first trip to sundance, and the second day … it’s been a blast, a very good trip… my movie HENRY POOLE IS HERE got sold like 3 hours after the premiere … I’ve been hanging with my boy luke wilson … we just got back from golfing in palm desert, and with samuel l jackson, we won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic … so it’s been a wild week … I’m really not a skier, and I’m kind of not digging the cold … but there are a a lot of people all dressed the same who look alike … this place ROCKS !!!  6000 feet at the top of a mountain is the last place a chicano from los angeles thought he would ever be … but that’s what makes america the greatest country in the world … dont forget to wear your sunblock … ROCK ON !!! 

Thanks, George!

addCredit(“George Pimentel/WireImage.com”)

Sundance Diary: Day Five (or, It all went dark for a second there)

Smartpeople_lI have to apologize, PopWatchers, but Sunday night I had to take you out of my pocket for a bit. It had been a pleasant enough day: I interviewed the creative team behind U2 3D (more on that tomorrow), saw Nick Cannon grow up in American Son, even caught a little football and barbecue at the ESPN House (which, you’ll recall, was one of my favorite places last year).

But then I went to go see Smart People, a warm, tweedy comedy starring Dennis Quaid (pictured, left) as a cantankerous English professor, Sarah Jessica Parker (at right) as the ER doc who accidentally loves him, Ellen "Juno Schmuno" Page as Quaid’s daughter, and the eternally brilliant and hysterical Texan Thomas Haden Church as Quaid’s adopted brother. And after the film, which comes out in April and which I enjoyed quite a bit, my colleagues and I went to the party and ate some food. And after I ate the food, it all went to hell.

So I’d like to thank the fine folks at Miramax for poisoning me, and I’ll spare you the details except to say that the Marriott bathroom is no place to spend the night. When I woke up this morning, I’d missed a screening of Chronic Town — a movie whose star, JR Bourne, I was supposed to interview — and basically wanted to curl up in a ball and die.

addCredit(“Smart People: Bruce Bermelin”)


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