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February 15, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The first months of the year are, by consensus, the bleakest of cinematic times. But not so much if, like me, you are a lover of documentaries, someone who revels in the pleasures of the nonfiction film. Proofs of the remarkable strength of documentaries in this day and age are manifold right around now. If you were fortunate enough to go to last month's Sundance, for instance, a prime nonfiction showcase that this year screened some 40 documentaries from around the world, you got a peek at the best of what 2014 will offer.
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 26, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik
One of the most intriguing releases of the 2014 award season (yeah, we said it) is “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater's epic project that screened to rave reviews at Sundance. As you may recall from the festival, “Boyhood” is the scripted coming-of-age film that Linklater shot over a remarkable 12-year period, a little bit each year, as we watch an ordinary boy (Ellar Coltrane) grow up while his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) grow up with him--like a human time-lapse photography, as Hawke once called it. On Wednesday, IFC Films--the company that financed the movie going back to the early 2000s--is set to announce its release plans, rolling it out later this year with a nice long awards runway to follow.
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ENTERTAINMENT
January 20, 2013 | By Julie Makinen and John Horn
PARK CITY, Utah -- Compared to feature films, documentaries are selling like hotcakes at the Sundance Film Festival: On Sunday, Sundance Selects snapped up the North American rights to "Dirty Wars," a journalistic look at America's covert operations. The movie premiered in the U.S. documentary competition section and was directed by Richard Rowley. The film follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill as he traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a secret and elite fighting force.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 6, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik
The Tribeca Film Festival will feature a number of celebrities in front of and behind the camera when it kicks off its 13th edition next month. Chris Messina directs “Alex of Venice,” a marital drama that stars the filmmaker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his wife, with a resurgent Don Johnson co-starring. Courtney Cox, meanwhile, will unveil “Just Before I Go,” about a hard-luck man (Sean William Scott) who returns to his hometown to try to settle some scores. Also premiering at the festival, organizers said Thursday, will be Victor Levin's “5 to 7,” a transatlantic romance starring Anton Yelchin, who mined similar territory in Sundance sensation “Like Crazy” a few years back; Susanna Fogel's “Life Partners,” the Millennial friendship dramedy that stars real-life partners Leighton Meester and Adam Brody as well as Gillian Jacobs and Gabourey Sidibe; the Nicole Holofcener-penned “Every Secret Thing,” a mystery involving disappearing children; the Joss Whedon-penned “In Your Eyes,” a metaphysical romance starring Zoe Kazan; and Jesse Zwick's “About Alex,” a dramatic comedy starring Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield and Maggie Grace that's described as a “Big Chill for our current social media moment.” BEST MOVIES OF 2013: Turan | Sharkey | Olsen Among the newly announced nonfiction films are the Ann Richards' doc “All About Ann” from Keith Patterson and Phillip Schopper, as well as “Bachelor”...
ENTERTAINMENT
January 23, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg
The Sundance Film Festival is well under way, giving us a preview of the independent features that may soon be coming to screens near us. The mix is interesting and sexy this year, and includes a good share of auteurs who've both written and directed their films. And yet, books remain in the mix. Here's your guide to the books behind the movies that are taking Sundance by storm. Movie: " Two Mothers " Starring: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, and James Frechevile Plot: Two close friends secretly carry on affairs with each other's sons Based on: A short story by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
It's a good kind of too busy right now for actress Elisabeth Moss. At Sundance for the world premieres of two films, Alex Ross Perry's “Listen Up Philip” and Charlie McDowell's “The One I Love,” she has also been making awards-season rounds for AMC's "Mad Men," as well as the miniseries “Top of the Lake,” for which she recently won a Golden Globe. Making her schedule even more hectic, the final season of “Mad Men,” in which Moss plays Peggy Olson, a meek secretary transformed into a self-possessed advertising executive, is currently in production.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2013 | By John Horn and Amy Kaufman
PARK CITY, Utah -- In a deal for about $2 million, the Weinstein Co. has acquired rights to the drama “Fruitvale,” shown at the Sundance Film Festival, according to a person close to the film who was not authorized to speak on the record. The deal comes as Relativity Media bought Joseph Gordon-Levitt's sexual obsession story “Don Jon's Addiction” for about $4 million. “Fruitvale” is based on the 2009 shooting of 22-year-old African American father Oscar Grant by a BART police officer in Oakland, an event that sparked outrage among community activists.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 19, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik
PARK CITY, Utah -- About three years ago, Randy Moore, a struggling screenwriter living in Burbank, had an out-there idea: What if he took a tiny camera and, without asking permission, began shooting a narrative movie at Disney theme parks? Moore had been visiting Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with his now-estranged father since he was a child, and he'd also begun taking his two children, then 1 and 3, to Disneyland. He thought that juxtaposing the all-American iconography of Mickey Mouse with a dark scripted tale would be cinematic gold, or at least deeply weird.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 18, 2013 | By John Horn
Park City, Utah -- Marc Silver's documentary “Who is Dayani Cristal?” opens with a dead body. It is the decomposing remains of an illegal immigrant who failed in his attempt to cross the Arizona desert, and the only meaningful identification on his body is a tattoo across his chest reading, “Dayani” on one pectoral and “Cristal” on the other. What follows is part forensic investigation and a kind of dramatic reenactment, in which actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who also produced the movie and shares a “film by” credit, follows in the doomed steps of the mysterious immigrant.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 18, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik and John Horn
PARK CITY, Utah -- Men have fantasy-baseball getaways and rock-star camp. For women? There's a Jane Austen vacation. At least so it goes in the fictional Austenland , Jerusha Hess' romantic comedy of the same name about a place where fans of the author can take a holiday in an English manor. There they live out a “Fantasy Island”-style getaway filled with bodices, high tea and men as fine-looking as Mr. Darcy. Based on Shannon Hale's novel, the film's  main character is Jane Hayes, a down-in-the-dumps thirtysomething ( Keri Russell)
ENTERTAINMENT
February 27, 2014 | By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
Years of amateur and professional TV-watching and the impressive title attached to my byline notwithstanding, I have never believed that I would last a minute as a television programmer. I know what I like, and usually why I like it, but what will float and what will sink on the great waters of commerce I admit to be beyond my ken. Still, had anyone in charge at Sundance Channel (now calling itself SundanceTV) asked me whether the network should follow its fine "Top of the Lake," "The Returned" and "Rectify" - slow, atmospheric, morally ambiguous, semi-rural stories of crime and family in which old wounds are opened and buried secrets surface - with a fourth such series, I might have suggested it was time for a big-city screwball romance or something with unicorns.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 15, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The first months of the year are, by consensus, the bleakest of cinematic times. But not so much if, like me, you are a lover of documentaries, someone who revels in the pleasures of the nonfiction film. Proofs of the remarkable strength of documentaries in this day and age are manifold right around now. If you were fortunate enough to go to last month's Sundance, for instance, a prime nonfiction showcase that this year screened some 40 documentaries from around the world, you got a peek at the best of what 2014 will offer.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 8, 2014 | By Henry Chu
BERLIN - They stood an hour or more in four long lines, inching toward the ticket counters with agonizing slowness. This being Germany, they were orderly and polite. And this being the Berlin International Film Festival, they didn't mind the wait. It gave them time to thumb through the program, checking out obscure titles, circling ones that looked promising. A scruffy student searched for movies from the Balkans, while a retired engineer consulted an impressive grid drawn in his notebook of dates and show times, making sure that Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" (which he wanted to see)
ENTERTAINMENT
February 8, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Documentary filmmakers are known to go to extraordinary lengths to get their stories on film, but few have gone as far as Hubert Sauper. In order to achieve the unusual access to the reality of Africa he provides in his exceptional "We Come as Friends," which premiered last month at Sundance in Park City, Utah, and is screening Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival, Sauper flew into the continent on a tiny ultra-light airplane he...
ENTERTAINMENT
February 7, 2014 | By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
"Annie and a Side of Fries" (YouTube). Just before she was a person with a TV show (Comedy Central's "Broad City," in which she co-stars with her longtime stage partner, Ilana Glazer, and which you should be watching ), Abbi Jacobson created this splendid, bittersweet Web series. Posted on YouTube in 10 episodes of two or three minutes apiece, it purports to be the video blog -- I will not say "vlog" -- of an 11-year-old girl, recorded on the weekends she spends with her divorced father.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 4, 2014 | By Chris Lee
SANTA BARBARA - Hollywood's unique awards calculus wouldn't seem to take a film festival at this posh coastal enclave into account. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, after all, is not a prestige movie launching pad such as the Toronto International Film Festival or an indie acquisitions bazaar like Utah's Sundance. But over the last decade, the Central Coast festival has carved an important niche in the movie ecosystem. Arriving exactly two weeks after Academy Awards nominations were announced, the Santa Barbara festival is distinguished as a tactical pit stop on the way to the Oscars.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 20, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik
PARK CITY, Utah - The Baltimore Ravens finally got over the hump and won an AFC championship, but it was a sports victory of a different sort that filled the air Sunday afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival. “Linsanity,” the documentary about the rise of unlikely NBA point guard Jeremy Lin, premiered in Park City to rousing response, easily making it one of the most crowd-pleasing documentaries to play the festival this year. Sports fans stood up and cheered, while a coach said he thought it should be mandatory viewing for high school athletes.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2013 | By John Horn
From Park City, Utah In the biggest Sundance Film Festival deal so far, Relativity Media is buying Joseph Gordon-Levitt's sexual obsession story, “Don Jon's Addiction,” for about $4 million with plans to release the film wide later this year, according to two people close to the film. The actor's directorial debut, which Gordon-Levitt also wrote, looks at a young man named Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) who is obsessed with his own body and random sexual encounters and who can't shake his dependence on pornography.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 2, 2014 | By Jessica Gelt and Steven Zeitchik
When Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday, he left behind not just a rich body of work but a number of recently completed or in-progress productions, including the final two "Hunger Games" films. The prospects for that latter franchise has proved to be one of the big questions about the late actor's posthumous screen appearances; while Hoffman had completed shooting the first of those films, "Mockingjay: Part 1," the second film still had shooting days remaining for Hoffman. The actor played chief Gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee in the smash YA hit, appearing in the recent blockbuster "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" as a man with complicated loyalties who stages the titular competition.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 1, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
The stereotypical Sundance movie is thought of as something capital-Q quirky, typically a story of family dysfunction or coming-of-age. This year's festival, across its numerous sections, featured a newfound immersion in genre storytelling that pushed the films to places that were familiar but with unexpected and most welcome twists. Gareth Evans' "The Raid 2," for instance, does for the blood-soaked Asian action film what "The Dark Knight" did for the superhero film, injecting it with a seriousness, a depth of characterization and a scope of storytelling that raises it to a new level of legitimacy.
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