December 6, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Like any showbiz stripper, the Sundance Film Festival has left its most notable revelations for last:  after releasing its Competition Entries and its Midnight and Other Fringe Titles, today the Festival announced its highest-profile Premiere films, both scripted and documentary.  They seem a bit lower-key than usual this year, with stars and filmmakers notable more than anything else for their connection to other Sundance movies; apart from just a few exceptions, in former years these could have been Competition entries themselves.  Below are some initial thoughts:

2 DAYS IN NEW YORK:  Julie Delpy is best known as an actress, but she did a nice job a few years ago as writer/director of the prickly 2 Days in Paris.  This is a sequel, with Chris Rock replacing Adam Goldberg as the object of the Delpy character’s affections.
ARBITRAGE:  Nicholas Jarecki, who scripted the (notably bad) Sundance movie The Informers, is back as a writer/director this time, with a financial thriller that stars Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and one of the It Girls of last year’s Festival, Another Earth‘s Brit Marling.
BACHELORETTE:  It sounds like a sequel to Bridesmaids, but it’s not.  Leslie Headland’s directing debut, about a group of old friends who are, well, bridesmaids, in the wedding of one of them, has a promising cast:  Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, James Marsden and Kyle Bornheimer.
CALIFORNIA SOLO:  Sounds like the British rock version of Tender Mercies, with Robert Carlyle as an aging rocker who has to confront the demons in his life.
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVERParks & Rec‘s Rashida Jones co-wrote as well as starring in this comedy drama (also featuring Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood, Chris Messina and Emma Roberts) about a divorcing couple trying to remain friends.  Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, last in Sundance with The Vicious Kind, which featured a very showy role for Adam Scott.
FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL…:  Ari Graynor and Mark Webber, who are both also otherwise represented at the Festival, star with Lauren Anne Miller (who also co-wrote) in a comedy about 2 young women who move in together and enter into an “wildly unconventional business venture.”  No, this doesn’t appear to be the big-screen version of 2 Broke Girls.  Directed by first-timer Jamie Travis.
GOATS:  Vera Farmiga is Sundance royalty, and she returns to the Festival in what sounds like a supporting role.  The film concerns a boy attending military academy who connects with his estranged father, and stars David Duchovny and Ty Burrell.
LAY THE FAVORITE:  One of the few relatively clear A-list titles of the Festival, this is from Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons and The Queen, among others), and it stars Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Rebecca Hall and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a story about Vegas gambling.  
LIBERAL ARTS:  Josh Radnor’s directing debut Happythankyoumoreplease played at the Festival, and he’s back with another romantic drama, this time pairing him with Martha Marcy May Marlene star Elizabeth Olsen (with those 2 combined, we’re lucky the title is less than a paragraph long).
PRICE CHECK:  Michael Walker’s film about a guy and his difficult new boss stars Eric Mabius and another queen of Sundance:  Parker Posey., presumably as the boss.
RED HOOK SUMMER:  The new film by Spike Lee, about an Atlanta boy spending the summer with his grandfather in Brooklyn, stars the great Clarke Peters.
RED LIGHTS:  Sundance was determined to corner the market on Elizabeth Olsen movies this year, and here’s her other new one, a supernatural thriller that stars Cillian Murphy, Robert DeNiro and Sigourney Weaver.  Directed by Rodrigo Cortes, who was last at Sundance with the well-regarded Ryan Reynolds thriller Buried.
ROBOT AND FRANK:  A little Sundance whimsy, about a family that installs a robot as the caretaker for their aging dad, with Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon (again), Liv Tyler and James Marsden (again).
SHADOW DANCER:  James Marsh directed one of the very impressive British Red Riding thrillers, and he’s back with a drama about a mother embroiled with her son in a bombing plot.  The cast includes Andrea Riseborough, Aiden Gillen, Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.
THE WORDS:  A literary drama from first-time writer/directors Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman, with a very strong cast:  Bradley Cooper, Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Zoe Saldana.
Documentaries include a film about aging supermodels (ABOUT FACE), Stacey Peralta’s latest skateboarding epic (BONES BRIGADE), a tale of dyslexia (THE D WORD), Rory Kennedy’s story of ETHEL Kennedy, the environmental movement (A FIERCE GREEN FIRE), rap (SOMETHING FROM NOTHING), and the criminal justice system (WEST OF MEMPHIS), as well as an untitled film about Paul Simon.

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."