It's taken five weeks, but 2014 finally has a great movie on its hands. No, it's not "Boyhood," any other selection from the Sundance Film Festival last month or Lars Von Trier's slightly overrated "Nymphomaniac." It's Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel." That's no disrespect to Richard Linklater's buzzed drama, it's no doubt great. "Grand Budapest" is very different from "Boyhoood" or any other film that screened in Park City. Simply, Anderson's latest is an example of an auteur at the peak of his cinematic powers.
Last episode, Patrick (Jonathan Groff) screwed up a great date with potential husband material Richie. Are you ready to cringe at what he does this week?
Have you ever wondered why Hollywood would have one movie you're dying to see open on the same day as another movie you're equally dying to see? It probably happens more often than you think during the summer and holiday season. And unless you are a truly hardcore moviegoer (and many of you out there are), chances are you'll only see one of the two that weekend. That's why the release date game is just as important to movie studios as the right trailer, poster or TV spot. It doesn't matter how good your film is, if you have the wrong release date you're hoping for word of mouth to save the day.
If your a fan of cinema and, more importantly, a fan of the art of cinema than you need to get excited about Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin."
Did you know that over the past seven years, six films that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival have been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars? Or, that last year "Beasts of the Southern Wild's" Benh Zeitlin became only the third Sundance helmer after Peter Cattaneo ("The Fully Monty") and Lee Daniels ("Precious") to earn a Best Director nod? Were you aware of the impressive number of nominated actors whose performances first played Park City, including Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), Mo'Nique ("Precious"), Terrence Howard ("Hustle & Flow"), Michelle Williams ("Blue Valentine"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Laura Linney ("The Savages")?
Sure, there have been some off years, but in general, Sundance has been a major player in the awards season ever since "Little Miss Sunshine" shook the annual indie conclave in 2006. And its influence appeared to be on the upswing. Emphasis on "appeared."
PARK CITY - One of the most heartwarming stories of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival was the success of Ben Cotner and Ryan White's documentary "The Case Against 8." The duo began working on the film almost five years ago and spent four years following the legal case to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot measure against gay marriage that surprised many by passing on the same night Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.
After some surprising controversy following the first episode, "Looking" is back for round 2. If I personally hadn't been in the middle of the 24/7 Sundance whirlwind I would have ripped off a whole essay on writers who wouldn't know a good TV show on gay men if it hit them, but movies and bronchitis got in this way. Please, tear this one down. Lord knows we need more "Will & Grace" and "Modern Family." Perhaps someone can bring the godawful U.S. "Queer as Folk" back. But, I digress...
The good news is this week's episode was written and directed by co-series producer Andrew Haigh who earned critical acclaim a few years ago for his independent film "Weekend." Having seen the first four episodes, series creator Michael Lannan is unfortunately the series' weakest link on the writing staff so far. Heigh and episode 4 writer Allan Heinberg just seem a bit more on point. So, if you were actually disappointed by episode 1, the second go around might get you on board.
The competition juries and audiences have spoken from Park City. "Whiplash" earned two key awards Saturday night, the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize and the U.S. dramatic audience award. These were impressive wins for director Damien Chazelle and distributor Sony Pictures Classics, who acquired the drama during the festival. Featuring impressive performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, the film focuses on a young music student (Teller) who is willing to go above and beyond to make it into a competitive jazz band at one of New York City's most prestigious music schools. It's the rare opening night film to take home the festival's top prize.
PARK CITY - During the Q&A for Charlie McDaniel's "The One I Love," an audience member asked the director and cast how would anyone be able to market this film without giving its big secret away? McDaniel, stars Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and screenwriter Justin Lader laughed it off, but the same question could also be asked of someone reviewing the film. How do you attempt to review a movie where part of its success is not knowing a major key ingredient to the story? Perhaps that's why the term "spoiler alert" was invented. In any case, we're going to give it the old college try. And, provide an out if you'd like to stay ignorant of the set-up because this is one movie with more surprises than you could ever imagine.
PARK CITY - I'm not entirely sure when I first met Justin Simien. Actually, correct that. It was four and a half years ago ( found the E-mail introducing him as the new online publicist for Paramount Pictures from 2009). Having worked for the venerable studio one time myself, we immediately had a number of similar acquaintances both socially and professionally. And in my position I ended up talking to him about work related items usually once week. But, as we chatted about more interesting topics than say the latest publicity opportunities for "The Last Airbender" (you poor child) I quickly realized something about this young twentysomething: He was way too smart for the room and he wouldn't be there long. And within two years, he'd moved on to bigger and better things.