December 3, 2012

SUNDANCE 2013: The Premieres


The Sundance Film Festival saved its most high-profile announcements for today, releasing the titles of its Narrative and Documentary Premieres.  The lion’s share of the festival movies that reach theatres/VOD will come from this group, which feature the most prominent filmmakers and actors.  Here are a few of the most immediately promising:

ACOD:  A terrific cast (Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Catherine O’Hara) in a comedy co-written by Daily Show/Modern Family writer Ben Karlin about a man (Scott) who finds out his life as an Adult Child of Divorce isn’t what he thinks.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT:  The third in the beloved indie romance series, reuniting Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater for another visit with our talkative couple, this time in Greece, 9 years after the last installment.

BREATHE IN:  From the director of Like Crazy, Drake Doremus, a story about a foreign exchange student (Crazy‘s Felicity Jones) and her effect on married couple Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan.

DON JON’S ADDICTION:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his directing debut (about a modern-day Don Juan) with a cast that includes, aside from himself, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

jOBS:  Would you believe Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs?  Well, maybe after this film you will.  (And the oddly lower-case first letter of the title is intentional.)

THE LOOK OF LOVE:  A film festival just isn’t a film festival without a contribution from Michael Winterbottom, and this time he’s reteamed with his 24-Hour Party People/The Trip star Steve Coogan as a real-life British porn king.

LOVELACE:  More porn, with Amanda Seyfried as the the titular (heh heh heh) star in the story of her exceedingly messy life, from the directors of Howl.

PRINCE AVALANCHE:  Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as road workers on an “isolated landscape”–please god, let it not be David Gordon Green’s version of Gerry.

STOKER:  Park Chan-Wook’s American film debut (he directed Oldboy and the rest of the “Vengeance Trilogy”) is a fittingly dark–really dark–spin on Shadow of a Doubt, with Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode as the film’s version of Joseph Cotten, and Mia Wasikowska not very much like Teresa Wright at all.

SWEETWATER:  A “blood triangle” involving “a fanatical religious leader, a renegade sheriff and a former prostitute,” starring Ed Harris, Jason Clarke and January Jones–what’s not to like?

TOP OF THE LAKE:  A 6-hour miniseries from director Jane Campion (The Piano), about a pregnant 12-year old who vanishes, with Elisabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, and Peter Mullan.

TWO MOTHERS:  From director Anne Fontaine and screenwriter Christopher Hampton, the story of two middle-aged best friends (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) who have passionate affairs with each other’s sons.  So, ick.

VERY GOOD GIRLS:  Festival darlings Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as two friends who fall for the same guy–which is better, at least, than falling for each other’s children.

THE WAY, WAY BACK:  The directing debut of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Oscar winners for last year’s The Descendants script, as well as each being a star on primetime network TV in his own right), about a 14-year old who falls in with the employees at a trailer park, with a cast that includes Steve Carell, Toni Collete, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph.

ANITA:  The documentaried life of Anita Hill.

HISTORY OF THE EAGLES:  About the band, not the birds.

LINSANITY:  Knicks fans may want to bring a box of tissues.

RUNNING FROM CRAZY:  A documentary about Mariel Hemingway, but centering around her famed family’s struggle with mental illness and suicide.

SOUND CITY:  A music documentary directed by Dave Grohl, who knows something about the subject.

WE STEAL SECRETS:  Alex Gibney’s telling of the WikiLeaks story.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DICK CHENEY:  Democrats may want to bring a box of tissues.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."