Chances are that by now you’ve already read some of the headlines bubbling out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. As usual, bold-faced celebrities descended on Park City’s Main Street sniffing out freebie swag like pigs hunting truffles. In their flashy ski parkas, thousand-dollar sunglasses, and Wookiee-chic snow boots, they hardly needed free stuff. And they certainly weren’t trying very hard to look inconspicuous. Sundance has become a place to be seen, and if you also have a movie in the festival, all the better.
At Saturday night’s Entertainment Weekly party, for example, Al and Tipper Gore, Robert Redford, Terrence Howard, Greg Kinnear, Crispin Glover, Robert Downey, Jr., as well as a few nostalgically familiar faces — Is that Rebecca DeMornay at 12 o’clock? Wait, wasn’t that Ally Sheedy near the bar? — were all questing for a starring role in the same Sundance fairy tale. Whether they’re members of already established A-list, the rising B-list, or the fading C-list, all have their mittened fingers crossed that their film will be the next sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, or Hustle & Flow.
Only four days old, Sundance 2006 has already been characterized as a ”seller’s market.” Now that the Miramax of yore with its blustering Weinsteins and open checkbooks is history, all of the indie studios are on equal footing looking for this year’s March of the Penguins or Blair Witch. But the thing about this year’s so-called seller’s market is that it hasn’t really materialized… yet. Aside from the reported $10.5 million that Fox Searchlight paid for Little Miss Sunshine — an early-festival crowd-pleaser starring Kinnear,Toni Collette, and Steve Carell — the bidding’s been tame. If not downright dead.
That should change by the time you read this. On Sunday night, audiences got their first peek at The Illusionist(pictured), an elegant period piece about a Viennese magician (EdwardNorton in quite the goatee) who poses a threat to the political andromantic ambitions of Austria’s young emperor-in-waiting (RufusSewell). The Illusionist also stars Sundance icon Paul Giamattias a dastardly inspector hellbent on debunking Norton’s parlor tricksas a fraud and Jessica Biel as the easy-on-the-eyes love interest ofboth Norton and Sewell. Aside from the earth-shattering news that Bielcan actually act (although Norton and Giamatti clearly steal the show),The Illusionist is everything a hungry acquisitions exec is on the lookout for at Sundance.
addCredit(“The Illusionist: Glen Wilson”)
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