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A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as a flash mob breaks out in front of a group of Korean American food trucks in Williamsburg...
PARK CITY - "Why is it that self-righteousness always goes hand-in-hand with resistance movements?" So asks Brit Marling's prematurely jaded intelligence agent in her investigation of a particularly precocious band of eco-terrorists in "The East," a slick, involving, somewhat uneven independent thriller that marks the writer-producer-star's second promising collaboration with director Zal Batmanglij.
Funny enough in itself, the question encapsulates much of what works in this high-concept, higher-gloss bid for mainstream attention from the team behind "Sound of My Voice": incorporating and accommodating a range of views, the politics are elastic in what threatens from a distance to be a dry, earnest slab of liberal issue-mongering. Perhaps chiefly a study of noble causes pursued by less-than-noble means -- and questioning how wide that chasm between , "The East" follows Batmanglij's previous film in portraying the infiltration of a cult-like underground organization with an undefined depth of influence.
PARK CITY - I called my wife tonight when I got out of the theater where I saw "Before Midnight," the new film by Richard Linklater that follows up his first two movies about Jesse and Celine, because that seemed like the most urgent thing in the world at that particular moment.
I was 25 years old when "Before Sunrise" came out. I was living with a woman, on my way to married, working as a screenwriter and making a living with my writing for the first time ever, and when I saw the film, it hit me dead center. I was blown away by the gentle, clever, romantic voice of the movie. Ethan Hawke is practically the default avatar for white dudes my age, an '80s survivor that has grown up interesting and seemingly intact, and Julie Delpy… well, come on. I grew up in love with European cinema. I certainly had my "OMG French girls" phase, and Delpy looks like the walking embodiment of it.
What really seemed dazzling to me was the way the script by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan did one of the things I find most difficult in writing: they carefully crafted something that felt utterly spontaneous. At the end of that film, I don't remember thinking, "Okay, now I want a sequel." I just loved it as a standalone thing, and it went into my regular rotation of films I adored.
PARK CITY, UTAH -- Taylor Hawkins and Pat Smear have no fear that the Foo Fighters are finished. They're merely enjoying their break, supporting the lead Foo. At the "Sound City" premiere at Sundance, the two members fleshed out their feelings on Dave Grohl's non-album project -- which, coincidentally, turned into an album project anyway ("Sound City - Real to Reel").
Smear -- who also played in Nirvana -- said that the assembled Sound City Players may just become "the greatest cover or backing band of all time."
As for the future of the Foos, "Today, it's just this. We're all here and we're all playing," he said, referring to the fact that all personnel was on hand for the premiere and helped on its soundtrack.
Drummer Hawkins said that the Foo Fighters have a "natural never-ending future... we're family." When Grohl told festival-goers last year that the band was going away for a while, "people made a bit more out of it" than it was. "I don't think it was meant to be dramatic. We should have said nothing, then everybody would be really happy when we came back. It's cyclical," said, commenting o n the album release cycle, "then everybody needs to go do something else."
For Hawkins, something else are "small" projects, mountain biking "every day of my life" and making time with his kids. "My 'that' is this, helping Dave out."
Watch the rest of our red carpet interview above, with a cameo from film buff and Slipknot leader Corey Taylor and Smear talking about the term "reunion" with Nirvana in mind.
You know that fight Mauricio and Brandi had last week at Kyle's little Moroccan-themed get together? Well, it was so intense, it's still going on a week later! Not really, but we're picking up right where we left off last week, which means more of Brandi screaming and swearing, more of Mauricio wondering why he didn't just pick up McDonald's and have a quiet meal at home, and Ken nibbling on Mauricio's knees in defense of his glamazon faux-girlfriend. Oh, and as usual Taylor tries to make it all about her, not that anyone cares.
PARK CITY - After battling giant evil robots for a good chunk of the past six years, Shia LaBeouf is proving he's up for something different when he gets in front of the camera. Last year he starred in John Hillcoat's period thriller "Lawless" and Robert Redford's political drama "The Company You Keep," the later which will hit theaters in April. It's been a long time, however, since LaBeouf was likable, let alone appeared as though he was actually having a good time making the picture. Enter, Fredrik Bond's "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" which premiered Monday night at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
PARK CITY - The acquisitions announcements are coming thick and fast in Sundance, and while I haven't been keeping up with that side of things, I did notice that two of the festival's bigger British entries have found a home with the IFC family.
Michael Winterbottom's "The Look of Love," a semi-comedic biopic of London porn entrepreneur Paul Raymond, has been picked up by IFC Films -- no surprise there, given that they've handled most of Winterbottom's recent work. The new film has enjoyed a mixed reception at the festival -- I thought it was so-so myself -- but is on the accessible end of spectrum, and might actually play better on a VOD platform. (In my review, I mentioned that I thought the material best suited to TV, so close enough.)
PARK CITY - Going into Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale" this afternoon, I was unaware of the unfortunate case of Oscar Grant. So my experience of the film is bound to differentiate from someone who was up on the story or, indeed, any number of audiences who are bound to catch up with the film after the festival, once the particulars are chewed on in the entertainment media a lot.
So, on those particulars, Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, was shot by a police officer at the Fruitvale BART station on his way back from New Year's festivities in the wee hours of January 1, 2009. The altercation was captured by numerous cell phones and led to strife and unrest regarding police brutality. It has been argued an accident and an execution, but what Coogler's film does so well, and when it is at its best, is when it fleshes out and defines the life lost, the father trying to put his life back together and the pain that came with his death.
Sundance has been dominating my attention this week so it's been rather fortunate that there is a definitive lull in this year's Oscar proceedings. Perhaps that's one good thing to come of the Academy's new schedule. It gives those of us covering the fest some room to breathe before diving back into all that.
So then I missed "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, which featured "Silver Linings Playbook" star Jennifer Lawrence as guest host the very weekend her stiffest competition for the Best Actress Oscar, Jessica Chastain, was ruling the box office roost. And for her opening monologue, the writers set her up with some fun joshing toward her fellow nominees.
PARK CITY - Not all screenwriters are meant to be directors, and there are many directors who should be kept arm's length away from a keypad. After winning a best adapted screenplay Oscar along with Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon ("Ben and Kate") and Jim Rash ("Community ") move to the director's chair with the funny, but rocky "The Way Way Back."