<p>I'm not sure I can explain what's happening in this moment from the new Chris Morris comedy 'Four Lions,' making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.</p>

I'm not sure I can explain what's happening in this moment from the new Chris Morris comedy 'Four Lions,' making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Warp Films

Sundance 2010: 'Four Lions' blows up at Sundance

Does the maker of 'Brass Eye' make terrorism funny?

Chris Morris is part of a particular generation of British comedy guys to come out of TV, and taken as part of a movement, I find it very exciting.  "Four Lions" is an enormously cheeky feature film debut for Morris, but there's also a "get out of jail free" card that he's dealt himself here that is the one clear way he seems to be playing it safe.

First, let me be clear:  "Four Lions" is the most interesting thing I've seen at the entire festival so far.  "Cyrus" may be more successful overall as a film, but "Four Lions" is more exciting, more electric.  I find it hard to believe that this film really exists.  I half-suspected that what I'd heard about it before seeing it would turn out to be an elaborate prank on the part of the filmmakers.  Nope.  Chris Morris has indeed made a broad heartwarming comedy about five bumbling jihadists living in London, suicide bombers just waiting on their call to service.

And it is painfully funny.

I think a movie like this is absolutely essential right now.  It is vital to defang and demystify the notion of the terrorist.  When we have people trying to blow up planes, it's scary.  When they're trying to blow up planes with their underpants, it starts to get funny, and then we don't know how to process that.  The added level of absurdity is what Morris seems to be exploring, the idea of a world where terrorrists have blooper reels, and by daring to aim just as high as he is low with his jokes, Morris pulls off the near-impossible.

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<p>Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Catherine Keener all star in 'Cyrus,' which played this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, and Catherine Keener all star in 'Cyrus,' which played this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Sundance 2010: Jonah Hill on 'Cyrus'

Hill discusses playing it straight, reading his reviews, and why 2010 is the best year ever

I've spent enough time around Jonah Hill now that I relax when I sit down to interview him because I know we'll have plenty to talk about.  I had just wrapped up with my John C. Reilly interview when Jonah arrived, and after one other conversation, theey walked him over to the couches where I was waiting, and Jonah settled into his chair across from me:

Jonah:  Nice to see you, dude.

Drew:  Nice to see you.

Jonah:  How’s it going?

Drew:  It’s going well.

Jonah:  Yeah?

Drew:  I’ve got to give you these. HitFix mints.

Jonah:  Awesome! (laughs) They look like drugs.

Drew:  We love to hand those to people.  I gave them to the producer of "The Wackness" the other night,  and he said, "Oh no, no man.  It’s okay,  I’m straight."  I was like, "No, they’re mints." And he’s like, "Oh, okay.  You have to understand, since 'The Wackness,' people hand me things all the time."

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<p>John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill costar in the new comedy 'Cyrus,' which premiered at this year's Sundance Film&nbsp;Festival.</p>

John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill costar in the new comedy 'Cyrus,' which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Sundance 2010: John C. Reilly on 'Cyrus'

Reilly talks about working with Jonah Hill and the real secret to the Duplass process

The first time I met John C. Reilly was at the premiere of "Anchorman."  And that was just a brief, "Hey, how are you?  I like your work."  That sort of thing.  The next time I spoke to him was at Fantastic Fest. last year, where I interviewed him about "The Vampire's Assistant" just after seeing it.  I was in the grips of an insane sudden onslaught of the flu, so I barely remember our conversation.  Considering how long I've enjoyed his work, I figured it was about time we finally sit down and had a conversation where I actually came to it clear-headed, and so the day after I saw "Cyrus," I found myself at the Village At The Yard, sitting on a couch across from Reilly, in room where other journalists were talking to people like Alex Gibney and Tilda Swinton.

As with Spike Jonze, I came to the interview bearing gifts:

John: It’s just you and me?

Drew: Yep.

John : Oh okay, I thought Jonah was joining us.

Drew: I think I'm going to talk to Jonah after this. For our website, HitFix, we brought mints this year. Would you like HitFix mints?

John: Yeah, sure. (starts to open the plastic wrap on the bottle)  Do they have a psychotropic effect?

Drew: I wish.  But at the very least you can make people think at parties that you’re giving out the good stuff now. So, so far "Cyrus" is my favorite thing I’ve seen up here.

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<p>Sarah Polley makes a new friend... literally... in Vincenzo Natali's long-in-the-works 'Splice,' finally making its debut at this year's Sundance Film Festival</p>

Sarah Polley makes a new friend... literally... in Vincenzo Natali's long-in-the-works 'Splice,' finally making its debut at this year's Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Gaumont

Sundance 2010: 'Splice' is a strangely sexy horror film

Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody co-star in this genetics-age Frankenstein riff

It's been interesting to listen to the conversations about "Splice" in the few days since I saw it.  Reactions have been fairly evenly divided, and the people who don't like it aren't really running down the filmmaking or the performances or the effects work used to bring Dren, the strange new life form at the center of the film, to such vivid and bizarre life.  They just plain don't like the experience.  I can see that.  "Splice" is jet-black, especially with its sense of humor, and any time you mix sexuality into a horror film, people get weird about it.  It plays on a level that some people's lizard brain just plain rejects.  Too much chocolate in the peanut butter, so to speak.

I really liked "Splice,' and in the days since I saw it, I've been thinking about some of the images and ideas over and over, which is a good sign.  There's a lot going on in the film, and it's the sort of thing that will play well a second or third time, as you're able to go back and really break down what it is Natali's doing in each movement of the film.  I will admit that the first time I read the names of the characters played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley in the film -- Clive and Elsa -- I rolled my eyes and thought, "Oh, no, that's so obvious and on-the-nose cute, I hope the whole film is like that." 

The thing is, Natali defuses it in the first scene, when we meet the first generation born-in-a-lab life forms that were created by the hotshot geneticists played by Brody and Polley.  The monsters are called Fred and Ginger, and it's thrown away in a manner that lets you know that Natali thinks the naming is less important than what they do, that "cute" is a tendency most people can't resist when naming couples.  Clive and Elsa are, of course, a reference to Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester, who played Dr. Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 masterpiece "The Bride Of Frankenstein," and that obvious joke is also a statement of mission:  Natali knows exactly what story he's teling, and he wants to bring Mary Shelly's original concepts into the age where genetic miracles have become almost commonplace.

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<p>Austin Visschedyk is the subject of Adrien Grenier's new documentary 'Teenage Paparazzo,' which is part of this year's Sundance Film Festival</p>

Austin Visschedyk is the subject of Adrien Grenier's new documentary 'Teenage Paparazzo,' which is part of this year's Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Bret Marcus Productions

Sundance 2010: 'Teenage Paparazzo' and 'Smash His Camera' take a shot at fame

Did Adrien Grenier make a better movie than the guy who directed 'When We Were Kings'?

In this corner... Leon Gast.  He's the director of "When We Were Kings," a movie I've got a ton of love for, and he's been cutting concert films and documentaries for decades.  He's at Sundance this week with "Smash His Camera," a documentary about legendary paparazzi Ron Galella.

And in this corner... Adrian Grenier.  Yes, the star of "Entourage."  Vinnie Chase.  That's HBO's big star on HBO's big show about celebrity culture.  It's a slick and sometimes funny show, but it offers no real insight into fame.  It's selling a fantasy of how business works, how people behave.  It's exaggeration, cheerfully shallow stuff, so maybe that makes me skeptical of Grenier as a filmmaker.  He's the star on TV, but here he's the director of a film about Austin Visschedyk, a kid he met taking his picture, already a working member of LA's venal paparazzi scene before the age of 15.

Both films, not so surprisingly, feature a scene where a clip from "La Dolce Vita" is shown while it's explaiend that the character Paparazzo (Italian for "mosquito) was the origin of that word being used to describe a specific kind of ultra-aggressive celebrity photographer.  It's ground zero for the term.  If you see them both, you can't help but wince.  It's wild how close the two scenes are.

Besides that, though, the films are very different.

And if you'd told me which filmmaker I would be more impressed by after seeing both films, I would have scoffed. With scornful laughter.  Right.  In.  Your.  Face.

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<p>Ryan Reynolds prepares to make claustrophobics pass out from fear in 'Buried,' one of the films at this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Ryan Reynolds prepares to make claustrophobics pass out from fear in 'Buried,' one of the films at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Versus Entertainment

Sundance 2010: Can Ryan Reynolds survive 'Buried'?

Ryan Reynolds stars in this year's first big Sundance success story

This week on "Coincidence Theater"...

As I lined up tonight at the Holiday for the 8:00 show of "Buried," the news broke and the word spread.  "Buried" had just been sold.  For a whooole lot of money.

Congratulations, Team "Buried."  Well-played.  These guys just played the Sundance game exactly right.

They've got a movie.  It's pretty much exactly exactly as advertised.  It's Ryan Reynolds in a box for ninety minutes, emoting a whoooole bunch.  Ryan Reynolds pretty much is the experience here.  He gives one of those high-wire act performances where part of your reaction to it is raw admiration at the stones it takes to go for it.  Reynolds is never less than 100% engaged in his role, from the opening frame to the closing one.  He's onscreen the entire time.  Alone.  Either you pull that off or you don't as an actor.  Either you can hold an audience's interest, or you can't.  There's no middle ground.  Reynolds deserves a cut of this film at the box-office because when there's word of mouth, much of it will be in regards to him.

On a similar note, Rodrigo Cortés is an enormously talented director in terms of control.  He's well-aware of the math-problem of shooting a whole movie in a coffin.  So he solves the problem visually, scene after scene.  He takes each phone call, each new realization, and turns them into completely self-contained set pieces of tension, each with a distinct visual plan.  He's going to make many, many movies, and I'm fairly sure I'll like many of them.

Because, sorry to say, I didn't care for "Buried" at all.

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<p>Andrew Garfield and Sienna Guillory star in the new Spike Jonze short 'I'm Here' at this year's Sundance Film&nbsp;Festival.</p>

Andrew Garfield and Sienna Guillory star in the new Spike Jonze short 'I'm Here' at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Absolut/Spike Jonze

Sundance 2010: Catching Up With Spike Jonze

We discuss his robots in love, 'Jackass 3D,' and 'Wild Things' on BluRay

The MySpace Cafe stands at the top of The Lift, which is at the bottom of Main Street.

And, to my enormous delight, it's about 100 yards from the back door of the condo where Team HitFix is camped out this year.

That made for a very convenient afternoon when I had time for an hour-long nap I desperately needed, and then I got up, showered, and walked over, headphones on.  There's something epic about playing Basil Poledouris and Ennio Morricone music while you're walking through a snowstorm.  Up the stairs to the MySpace cafe, and then a quick check-in, and then I was able to get out of the cold just long enough to basically take off the jacket, the gloves, and grab a hot chocolate, and then it was right over to sit down with Spike Jonze, here in town to promote his short film, "I'm Here," which I reviewed on opening night.

I hadn't seen Spike since the interview we did on Ain't It Cool News while "Where The Wild Things Are" was still in post-production, and we've been trying to put some time together for months.  It was nice to finally see him here, especially with a new film to talk about, and the first thing I did as I sat down was handed him what looked like a prescription bottle.  He seemed a little taken aback until he turned it and realized it was a bottle of our special festival-only HitFix mints.  They come in an authentic pharmacy bottle with the following label:

"Prescription for an entertainment fix:  HitFix.
Dosage:  all day, every day.
Active ingredients:  movies, TV, music, concerts, local events.
Overdose at HitFix.com/Sundance"

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<p>Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, and Shawn Ashmore face an unwinnable situation in Adam Green's grim 'Frozen,' part of this year's midnight line-up at the Sundance Film Festival</p>

Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, and Shawn Ashmore face an unwinnable situation in Adam Green's grim 'Frozen,' part of this year's midnight line-up at the Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Anchor Bay Films

Sundance 2010: 'Frozen' delivers the chills

Adam Green strips it down and makes it work

Adam Green is a firmly-established part of the LA horror scene at this point, and his film "Hatchet" has earned him a fairly solid fan base in the horror world.  I like Adam a lot, and I want to like "Hatchet" more than I do.  I like it in theory, but I just wasn't crazy about the actual execution of it.  It's sort of like how I felt about Eli Roth's "Cabin Fever."  By the time I saw it, I liked Eli a lot, but the film left me cold.

For me, "Frozen" is the moment when I get onboard.  I think Green's new film is impressively directed, well-acted, and does its job both effeciently and effectively.  It's another of this year's midnight movies at Sundance, and I would imagine this audience, after dealing with the weather at this year's festival, is going to feel an extra connection to the film as they watch it.

"Frozen" has been described as "'Open Water' on a ski lift," and that's certainly fair.  As much as I liked the performance in "Open Water," though, I always thought the film was just okay.  "Frozen" is much better as an actual movie.  Green expertly accelerates the desperation over the course of the film, and he punctuates the pervasive dread at just the right moments, in just the right ways.  This isn't anything like the reckless abandon of "Hatchet"... it's all about the slow burn that delivers on occasion with cruel precision

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<p>Just another hilarious moment from the family comedy laugh-fest '7 Days,' part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Just another hilarious moment from the family comedy laugh-fest '7 Days,' part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Go Films/Sundance Selects

Sundance 2010: '7 Days' spills blood and tears

Upsetting story of revenge that earns its worst images

Here's the short version of this review:  I watched the film on a screener disc on my laptop with headphones on at the HitFix condo while our music editor Melinda Newman and our reporter Katie Hasty were both writing, and by the end of it, they told me that just by my body language and my reactions while watching it, I had convinced both of them to never see the movie.  As Dan Feinberg put it, "If a movie's making you cringe and turn away, I have to figure that's a movie I don't ever want to watch."

Fair enough.

How would you ever forgive yourself?

More than any other question posed by the ugly and provocative "7 Days," that's the one I keep coming back to.  If your child was kidnapped and murdered, how could you ever stop thinking about all the things you might have done different?  What if you'd walked with them that day?  What if you'd driven them instead?  What if you'd been there?

One of the things no one warns you about before you become a parent is the things it does to your imagination.  No one tells you about the way you suddenly aren't in control over the things that run through your head, the horrifying scenarios that play out a thousand times a day, unwelcome and impossible to forget.  You're walking across a parking lot and for just a moment, your child pulls his hand free of yours and runs ahead, and an entire sickening movie plays out behind your eyes in a flash, and you see it with IMAX clarity, your child crushed under a car's tire or struck and left brain damaged, and your reaction is almost always too extreme, an effort to just drive the image away, to safeguard them from every single possibility of harm to any degree.  That's some sort of primal brain chemistry defense mode that kicks in with new parents, I think.

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<p>Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, and John C. Reilly all star in 'Cyrus,' a comedy by the Duplass Brothers that makes its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, and John C. Reilly all star in 'Cyrus,' a comedy by the Duplass Brothers that makes its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Sundance 2010: 'Cyrus' is the funniest drama you'll see this year

Reilly, Hill and Tomei all click as the Duplass Brothers storm the mainstream

John meets Molly.

John likes Molly.

Incredibly, Molly likes John as well.

If only things were that easy.

That's "Cyrus" in a nutshell.  Mark and Jay Duplass wrote and directed the picture, and it is a small intimate film that Fox Searchlight can absolutely sell like a mainstream hit.  It is a smooth piece of satisfaction, and that's not soft praise.  There's a light, effortless quality to the film.  You never see any of the typical mechanics of plot.  Each scene is polished, burnished by both the improvisation process during shooting and an exhaustive, precise editing schedule that they enjoyed on the film.  This is a film as wise about the relationships between men and women as Albert Brooks in the "Modern Romance"/"Lost In America" phase of his career.  This is a grown-up movie, and yet paralyzingly funny in places.  It's uncomfortable, but it's not shot through with the casual misanthropic horror of a "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

"Cyrus" is an original, though, for all of the comparisons I just made.  I'm just trying to describe a general reaction on my part.  The film opens with John (John C. Reilly, who gives one of the best performances of his career here) being told by his ex-wife Jamie (the always awesome Catherine Keener, who is, not surprisingly, awesome) that she's going to be getting remarried to Tim (Matt Walsh).  It has, after all, been seven years since she divorced John.  Still, he hasn't moved on.  He hasn't recovered.  He hasn't even tried.  Jamie talks him into going to a party with her and Tim, and he reluctantly agrees.  At the party, he meets a woman, Molly (Marisa Tomei), and something clicks between them.  It's just natural and real and a reaction that makes perfect sense as staged by the film.

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