PARK CITY - It took long enough, but the 2012 Sundance Film Festival finally produced a big winner. The feature debut of Colin Trevorrow, "Safety Not Guaranteed," premiered Sunday evening to a festival looking to embrace something (anything entertainingly good) and this new comedy absolutely fit the bill.
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We're off to San Diego for another day of auditions. If you're still watching, that is. In other news, the New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Now, let's get to the really important stuff -- singing!
10:58 p.m. EST Today's auditions will be like no other… because they will take place on the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego. That's nice, I guess, although I'd think an aircraft carrier and its crew has more important work to do than hosting 10,000 people and a TV show.
This was a nice way to wake up.
Back in 2009, which was the first HitFix trip to Sundance, I enjoyed two of the movies we saw, "Humpday" and "The Freebie." This year, both creative teams are here in different combinations, and again, I think it's interesting work. In the case of "Black Rock," this is about as far away from Katie Aselton's first film as it could be.
"The Freebie" told the story of a married couple, played by Aselton and Dax Shepherd, who decide to give each other the night off from marriage, with no consequences, allowing their partner to sleep with anyone they want. There are, of course, ramifications to a choice like that, and the film did a nice job of showing how that fallout might land. This time, Aselton is working in a very different genre, one that she's not a fan of for the most part, and she had to develop a tight relationship with the two women who co-star both with and for her.
Day two of Sundance was really my first full day, starting around 7:00 AM and ending at about 2:30 the next morning. I did my best to capture images and moments and a few on-the-fly chats as I went, and hopefully this should give you some sense of things.
One of the things that's a little hard to fully convey, even in video, is the random nature of encounters up here. You'll be sitting in the Yarrow lobby writing and suddenly Mike Judge walks by, or you're walking out at the end of the movie and Malin Ackerman is in front of you, excitedly discussing the movie with her friends, or, as you'll see in this piece, you might even run into a director as he arrives at the festival, film literally in hand.
It was great to catch up with Don Coscarelli, who I got to know a little bit during the "Masters Of Horror" process, and I'm excited to see what he's done with David Wong's novel "John Dies At The End." It amazes me how filmmakers never really get over that nervousness about showing their film to an audience for the first time, and I spent some time talking to him about this movie, our experiences on "Masters," and just catching up in general. We'll have a more formal sit-down in a few days, but it was a great moment.
The other day, as I was working at the Yarrow Hotel, I ran into Chris Pizzello. Chris is an AP photographer, and we feature his work here on HitFix on a regular basis. I've been seeing his name go by for years now when I'm editing stories, but this was the first time I ended up actually running into any of the AP guys, and it was great to put face to name finally.
He was busy uploading some photos to the AP site, and as we started talking about the festival, he showed me a photo which seemed to have him almost giddy.
I can see why.
If you've been following the story of the West Memphis Three since the first "Paradise Lost" was released in 1996, then the photo that Pizzello took would have been unthinkable for most of the past fifteen years. Impossible. Absolutely absurd to even mention.
There are three reasons I've chosen the photo to your left to illustrate this post: 1) Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nominations for "Take Shelter" are two of the fragile limbs I've climbed out on in compiling my final predictions for Tuesday's Oscar nominations announcement (with Kris and Gerard's to follow tomorrow); 2) Michael Shannon's face, staring impassively but uncertainly into the ill-lit darkness, roughly represents where I am with said predictions; and 3) if you look closely, Jessica Chastain's in the background, and since she's in the background of approximately half the films I expect to be nominated by the Academy, it seemed appropriate.
This feels like a tenuous year for predictions, and not just because -- for the first time in Oscar history -- we have the added variable of not knowing how many films will be nominated for Best Picture. In most years, at least a couple of categories feel more or less locked in place ahead of this announcement: this time, we have several major categories where a pair or trio of frontrunners are so far ahead of the pack (Clooney-Dujardin-Pitt in Actor, Davis-Streep-Williams in Actress, Hazanavicius-Allen in Original Screenplay), that the remaining slots, having already acquired the status of mere formality, are vulnerable to surprises.
PARK CITY - Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of pictures that were questionable inclusions to Sundance's premieres slate. A few them were actually good films ("The Company Men," "Smart People," "Cedar Rapids," ), but many were star-filled pseudo indies seemingly intended to satisfy sponsor attendees and the affluent contributors looking for a little bit of Hollywood during their Park City festival vacation ("The Great Buck Howard," "Brooklyn's Finest," "Motherhood," "The Butterfly Effect," "My Idiot Brother" and "The Son of No One" come to mind). A good deal of these films would have been more appropriate at the more commercial Toronto Film Festival (and it's worth noting the opposite is true with pictures such as "My Sister's Sister" debuting at Toronto this past year). Saturday night featured two of these broad, star-filled premieres: "Arbitrage" and "Lay the Favorite." The former was clearly the better of the two, but it still another disappointment for an edition of the festival where that's become the operative word.
The good news is Adele’s “21” will likely surpass the 100,000 weekly tally once more on the Billboard 200 next week. The bad news is the staggering low amount it takes for a title to land in the top 10.
While the top 4 titles will sell above 20,000, Hits Daily Double is projecting that positions 5-10 sell as low as between 17,000-19,000 each. It’s enough to make a grown man cry. This week marked the first time that a title selling 20,000 or less breached the top 10 as three titles met the low-water mark. One week later, as many as six could.
Yesterday, I began my annual far-fetched wishlist of films and individual achievements that, in a perfect world, I'd like to see mentioned in Tuesday's Academy Award nominations, beginning with the craft categories. Today, I move on to the major races, again picking freely from all films released Stateside in 2011 regardless of their presence on the AMPAS eligibility list, and ignoring the rigid qualifying rules in the documentary and foreign-language fields that keep so many of the year's best films out of running. Once more, the results set me up for a world of resigned disappointment next week.
When I left you yesterday, "Drive" and "Jane Eyre" were leading the field, while my two favorite films of the year "Weekend" and "Margaret," had yet to get on the scoreboard. How much will this change? What peaked only in the technicals? And is there time for a late surge from "W.E.?" Check out my picks after the jump, and weigh in with your own thoughts (and favorites) in the comments.
While we've got Team HitFix here, we're trying to do as many interviews as we can. We've got our awesome video team of Alex Dorn and Michiel Thomas with us on-site, and we've kept them running. On Saturday morning, we all met at the Bing Bar on Main Street, and I sat down with the filmmakers behind the film "Wish You Were Here."
This was the opening night movie that I reviewed, and I wanted to discuss the movie with the cast. I've interviewed Joel Edgerton before, most recently for "Warrior," so there was a slight comfort level there, and Teresa Palmer joined him for our chat, which is never a bad thing.
I like that Palmer gets to play Australian in the film, and it is that national identity for the film itself that I thought was most interesting and worth discussion. Australian cinema has had a number of different ebbs and flows over the years, and it feels to me like Blue-Tongue Films, a production collective that includes Edgerton, his brother Nash, and director Kieran Darcy-Smith, is one of the companies that is part of this new moment that's happening.
PARK CITY -- Aziz Ansari had a public service announcement: "The RAPPER is LATE."
The comedian and "Parks & Recreation" star was already bleeding sarcasm as he took the stage at Bing Bar last night (Jan 21), the opening act to rapper/singer Drake who was -- in fact -- an hour-and-a-half late for his set. On a Saturday night, at an open bar for one of the most in-demand MCs during one of the peak nights for Sundance crashers at a private party, Ansari's stand-up was met with a smilingly agitated crowd.
Ansari dotted his bits about childhood and childbearing with "this sucks" and "at least I'm getting paid lots and lots of money." It was Cuba Gooding, Jr. who crashed Ansari's party, but only to unsuccessfully persuade the crowd to shut the hell up and respect the pre-Drizzy entertainment.
There was no stopping them. The Bing-sponsored performance was one of the extremely rare dates leading up to Drake's proper tour behind "Take Care" live dates -- dubbed the Club Paradise Tour. Last night was a preview of what to expect for this highly anticipated stint, featuring openers and Hip-Hop New Class members A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar.
Drake took the stage, finally, at 1 a.m. on the dot.