How’s your weekend everybody? I spent some of my weekend reading [and dreaming] about the Sundance Film Festival. I wish I could go there one day, the venue itself in Park City, Utah is gorgeous and of course, it’s a haven for movie fans, especially indie lovers. Who knows when we’ll actually see these films in a theater near us, but hopefully we will eventually.
So here are just a tiny sampling of movies that piqued my interest [in random order]:
Z For Zachariah
Director: Craig Zobel
Writer: Pall Grimsson, Nissar Modi
Cast: Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor
In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors.
I’ve been seeing this photo all over the place and the cast alone intrigues me. I had no idea this was about a love triangle set in a post-apocalyptic world. Apparently this is based on a YA novel and according to this review from Variety, the book has “…allusions to the Genesis narrative, [and] the novel was seen by some critics as a metaphorical clash between science and faith.” I was impressed w/ Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street, and it’d be interesting to see her in a more prominent role against these two equally gorgeous and talented actors.
Here’s a clip from the film
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Nick Hornby
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson
In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Ellis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.
I LOVE Ronan and the 20-year-old’s definitely coming into her own as a grown-up actress now after churning in great performances in her teen years, esp. Atonement and Hanna. I like the sound of this period drama and John Crowley’s the same director who did the excellent Boy A with Andrew Garfield.
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Writer: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi
Cast: Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern
After his family is evicted, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash (GARFIELD) tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver (SHANNON), the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him.
This sounds really intriguing, and it’s already got really good reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s an excerpt from We Got This Covered, “It is a film that could easily have condescended with characters that fall too concretely on the sides of black and white, the 99% vs. the 1%. (it is easy to believe that the 99 from the title refers to the plight of the common individual against the monopoly of the elite). However, Bahrani and co-scribe Amir Naderi are too perceptive and intelligent to depict these two men in simplistic ways.”
No trailer yet, but here’s a clip featuring both actors:
Last Days in the Desert
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Writer: Rodrigo Garcia
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Tye Sheridan, Ciarán Hinds
An imagined chapter from Jesus’ forty days of fasting and praying in the desert. On his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of a family in crisis.
Ok so yes I was initially intrigued to see this mainly to see how McGregor pull off playing both Jesus and the Devil. But reading this interview with the filmmaker and lead actor on Christianity Today made me all the more curious. Described in the article as “…a character-driven meditation on family and mortality, haunting and spare” it seems as far away from something like EXODUS in terms of its *epic* and CGI-laden extravaganza, but hopefully it offers a reflective and thought-provoking look of Jesus’s life in perhaps his pivotal moment in his short but momentous life.
Lila & Eve
Director: Charles Stone III
Writer: Pat Gilfillan
Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez
Two distraught mothers, whose children were gunned down in a drive-by, team up to avenge their deaths after local authorities fail to take action.
Viola Davis and J-Lo?? Now THAT’s quite an unlikely duo. It’s reminiscent of Thelma & Louise but decidedly more serious in tone. Considering the cultural climate of the recent police shootings in this country, the film would likely spark controversies. It’s certainly nice to see two strong women of color, who have a huge following in their own right, starring in a film together. The main draw for me here is Davis who’s charismatic and massively talented. Despite her questionable choice of movies, Lopez is actually not a bad actress and perhaps she gets to show her dramatic chops in this one.
Director: Andrew Bujalsk
Writer: Andrew Bujalsk
Cast: Cobie Smulders, Guy Pearce
Two mismatched personal trainers’ lives are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client.
Guy Pearce in a comedy, as a personal trainer no less? Yes please! Interesting to see the pairing of him and Smulders, but both have been in Marvel movies. Variety reported that the film’s been sold to Magnolia and perhaps will open later this Summer. Here’s more info about the plot: The film is set in the fitness world of Austin, Texas, with Corrigan as a recently divorced, miserable slob who makes a stab at self-improvement by signing up for a personal trainer at a local gym, where he meets the self-styled guru/owner (Pearce) and acerbic trainer Kat (Smulders). Sounds good to me!
Director: John MacLean
Writer: John MacLean
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendehlson, Kodi Smit-McPhee
‘Slow West’ follows a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas.
It’s interesting to note that first time director was a musician whose music been featured in films like High Fidelity and Remember Me. He worked on a short called Man on a Motorcycle starring Fassbender and perhaps that’s who the two met. Fassbender is also producing this film, described in MacLean’s own words in this Indiewire interview as “A European perspective of the West and young love…” Westerns isn’t my go-to genre, but the premise and cast definitely grabs my attention.
Hopefully these movies will all get distribution and that I get to see them later this year!
Well, have you been following Sundance this year? Which movies are you most excited to see?
45 thoughts on “7 Films Screened at Sundance 2015 I’m most curious about”
Hey Ruth. Some good picks. I have seen a few on the list so far just need to write about them 🙂
Hi Iba, long time no *see* 😉 Which ones have you seen? Lucky you to have been at Sundance this year!
Slow West and Z. Scheduling is a challenge so I had to pass on Brooklyn. I might see Lila and Eve tomorrow not sure.
Cool! Send me the reviews once you get around to ’em. Let me know if you want to do a guest review of one of ’em here, I REALLY want to see Z for Zachariah!
After seeing Craig Zobel’s film Compliance I’d be interested in anything he’s doing. 99 Homes intrigues me especially with the two actors involved.
Of one’s you didn’t mention:
It Follows is one that’s been getting rave reviews and is a throwback to 70’s-80’s John Carpenter. Unfortunately for you Ruth it’s horror so don’t bother with it. Personally really good horror is really rare so I’m really looking forward to this one.
Dope is about a teenage geek named Malcolm growing up in a rough neighborhood in Inglewood, California. He winds up in a sticky situation after attending a party where a drug deal goes sour. It’s reminiscent of Doug Lyman’s Go which I loved. It’s been the film getting the most buzz at Sundance this year.
3 1/2 Minutes is a doc about a national news story where a brief encounter at a gas station that led to the killing of an unarmed black teenager over rap music. Powerful trailer.
These are great Dave! I Thanks for including the trailers too. There are some great docs that I was reading about, the 3 1/2 Minutes sure looks heart-wrenching.
Boy A was indeed excellent, so “Brooklyn” is on my radar now. Compliance (2010) was a memorable little film, so curious about Z For Zacharias. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these upcoming films.
Hello Chris! Yes Boy A is fantastic albeit heartbreaking. I love Saoirse so naturally I’m excited for Brooklyn. Haven’t seen Compliance yet but seems that the reviews were quite divisive if I remember correctly.
I am definitely excited about some of these. Slow West and Brooklyn sound like the most interesting. I have a strong suspicion that Z for Zachariah was an English setwork book when I was in early high school but I can’t remember what year or anything about the story.
It’s interesting that Z For Zachariah could’ve easily be something like Hunger Games or Divergent with younger cast, but I’m glad they decided to go the indie route w/ more mature cast. I’m very intrigued by the premise.
My initial thought was to laugh at the Ewan Jesus movie, but I’m really intrigued by this…like REALLY.
Ahah yeah me too! I was like he’s playing both Jesus AND the devil??! But that interview gave me insights into what the filmmaker’s trying to do, so hopefully it works well.
Some intriguing choices. I think the ones that stand out to me are Z for Zacharias, 99 Homes, and Results. I’m cautious and a bit leery of Last Days in the Desert. I’ll be interested to read more about it.
My first instinct about ‘Last Days’ is the same as yours Keith. Check out the Christianity Today article, that gives you some insights into the project if you’re interested.
I read it after you mentioned it in your post. They are definitely taking an interesting approach, but I just can’t shake my skepticism. But I’m certainly not completely writing it off. I will definitely have my eye on it.
Totally understand, I really do. In fact I was saying to Melissa here that I hope this isn’t another ‘Last Temptation of Christ’ as I refuse to watch something that is blatantly blasphemous. I mean it’s one thing to do a different angle on a story but it’s quite another to alter the essence of something or being disrespectful to the subject matter.
Actually the only one I’m really looking forward to is the horror flick “The Witch” but True Story with Franco and Hill is also something I’ll check out
Oh I heard The Witch is terrifying so I’d avoid that 😛 I just read about True Story after I made this post. Yeah it actually sounds intriguing!
I was just reading a review of The Last Days in the Desert in Variety and it sounds really cool! Reminds me a bit of The Last Temptation of the Christ. Ewan Macgregor’s double performance is definitely something to look forward to and Lubezki is the cinematographer so that’s a plus! Z for Zachariah has a great cast I hope the film delivers.
Hi Melissa! I hope ‘Last Days’ wouldn’t be blasphemous like The Last Temptation of Christ. I’m fine w/ portrayal of Christ from a different, less conventional angle so long as they do it with respect and care even if they don’t believe in His teachings.
Back when I thought I was moving to LA to pursue filmmaking, I always try to attend Sundance, of course didn’t have a lot money back then so I was able to attend twice. But after I saw too many bad and pretentious indie films around 2004 or 2005, I haven’t paid much attention to this festival.
I’ve been reading some good reviews of Keanu Reeves’ new movie Knock Knock, also The Witch and Cop Car. Hopefully some of the ones you mentioned will find a distributor or better they can release it through VOD. Way cheaper.
Hey Ted, that’s cool that you’re able to go to Sundance at all. I still haven’t made it there yet. I think w/ any genre/budget, there’s always gonna be rotten apples among them.
Yeah I heard about Knock, Knock but I generally don’t care for Eli Roth’s work though.
I think this year’s crops are much better than the past few years, the new filmmakers are trying to make good films instead of trying to make “important” or too serious films. Those people tends to fail and most of them have never heard from again. One director who made an awful movie I saw there in 2004, it’s called November, it got good reviews at the festival and some said the director was going to big the next big name talent. Well when the movie finally opened wide, it got trashed by big critics and many people hated it. The director was never heard from again.
I don’t care for Roth’s work either, I only saw Cabin Fever and I thought it’s just gross. But apparently he’s tackling more of suspense thriller for this one as oppose to gross out horror.
These really are shots in the dark, eh? I still have a day and a half left, but I get what you are saying. It is a difficult thing to navigate.
Cool, so you’re at the festival? I think this year’s crops are more promising than other years. Hope you’re having fun there!
WOW, awesome list! All of these look amazing. “Z for Zacharias” and “Last Days in the Desert” are the most intriguing and I’m really curious about the Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez pairing.
Hi Fernando! I LOVE Viola Davis, so her casting alone intrigues me. But hey maybe J-Lo is ok w/ the right role, so I’m curious to check out Lila & Eve.
Yep! Fingers crossed. Hopefully some of Davis’s incredible knack for drama rubs off on Lopez.
Great picks Ruth. I’m particularly looking forward to 99 Homes. Have loved Bahrani’s work since Man Push Cart. Wish I could go to Sundance!!
I really should check out more of Bahrani’s films. Yeah I wish I could go to Sundance too!
Thanks for the info Ruth! Z for Zachariah sounds really interesting, looking forward to seeing that whenever it gets released.
Hey thanks for reading Adam. Yeah, hopefully all of these films got a distributor. I think Results’ already found a buyer, so yay!
Wow!!! Soooo many things to get excited about here, wow. I think the big take-away from this post for me is ’99 Homes.’ That pairs up Andrew Garfield, an actor I think has been very very unfairly maligned and the of course excellent and terrifying Michael Shannon. Set against a horrifying backdrop like the economic collapse of 2008, I don’t see a way this movie can go very wrong. (Of course, I’ve been proven a fool before on that! Haha)
And everything else here is news to me aside from ‘Z for Zachariah’ and ‘Last Days in the Desert.’
Hey Tom! Yes, the pairing of Garfield & Shannon sounds good and I love seeing stories set in a *real* setting w/ them playing regular guys in extraordinary circumstances.
Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Btw I got your email this morning, will be responding shortly to that. Thanks!
UMMM YES please I want to see these all. Thanks for bringing them to our attention. I wish I could go to Sundance too, let’s runaway together and go!
Hey we should both apply for a press pass for next year! How about that girl? We can both go together as press, wouldn’t that be awesome??
Btw I’d love to hear your opinion on my list of Top 10 Male Performances, curious which ones you have seen and agree on 😉
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Z for Zacharias looks so good based off the cast alone. I had heard of Results, and I’m interested in primarily for Cobie Smulders. I’m wondering how she’ll be in a drama.
Stay tuned for a guest review of Z for Zacharias next week from a fellow blogger who went to Sundance this year. Yeah I’m curious to see Cobie in ‘Results’ as well, that movie is billed as a comedy though.
Good stuff. I’m looking forward to these films as well.
Yeah, hopefully all of them get distribution soon!
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