The Sundance Film Festival has been crazy busy this year, and tonnes of great movies have already debuted (and many bought for distribution!). Here’s a short list of some of the most-talked-about and highly anticipated movies to come out of the festival so far.
The Hunting Ground , a documentary by Kirby Dick who also did Invisible War a couple of years ago. The Hunting Ground is a powerfully charged film about rape on college campuses, a timely topic (sadly) that had audiences gasping audibly at the mockery of universities’ investigations into sexual assault. The film takes a hard look at fraternity culture, and also serves as a warning to the NFL about Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston – accused of rape he has yet to be formally charged but his accuser speaks out publicly for the first time, and it’s chilling. This movie also features the most talked about song at Sundance this year, Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens To You”, co-written by the esteemed and venerable Diane Warren. The Hunting Ground is slated for release March 20 and will air later this year on CNN.
Going Clear is another documentary of note this year, this one directed by Alex Gibney (who you may remember from Taxi to the Dark Side). This one’s about Scientology and you can bet it’s ruffling plenty of feathers (HBO famously hired 160 lawyers to vet the thing). Gibney’s got lots of former scientologists on deck, including disillusioned former leaders, delivering first-hand accounts of what it’s really like behind closed doors. This doc lands bombshells about the torture of members in a prison known as “the hole”, the harassment of those who have left, and the intentional breaking up of Tom Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman (and even wire-tapping her phones). Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief airs March 16 on HBO.
IFC Films laid out $3 million for the rights to Jack Black’s new comedy, The D Train, where he plays a loser who tries to save his high school reunion by recruiting the class’s favourite and most famous student (James Marsden), an actor in a successful Banana Boat commercial, to attend.
Brooklyn looks like another one to look out for – a romantic drama based on a best-selling book (by Colm Toibin) with a screenplay adaptation by Nick Hornby. If memory serves correctly, it’s about a young woman who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn and faces homesickness and heartbreak as she chooses between 2 men and 2 countries. Something like that. 🙂
The End of The Tour sounds a little like Almost Famous but for book worms as opposed to groupies. It follows Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg, who I’m a little wary of at this point) on a five-day road trip with David Foster Wallace (brought to the big screen by Jason Segel). Wallace committed suicide a few years back and apparently his family aren’t pleased about the movie, so it’s sure to create some chatter when released later this year.
I am not sure, though, that anything will create quite as much controversy as James Franco’s new movie, I Am Michael, based on the life of gay activist Michael Glatze who co-founded an LGBT teen magazine only to renounce his sexuality and become a Christian pastor. Zachary Quinto and Emma Watson also star.
For those of you worried about having too much fun at the movies this year, here’s one that’s sure to be a downer: in Stockholm, Pennsylvania, Saoirse Ronan plays a young woman who was kidnapped as a young child and held captive for 17 years. Recently returned home to her family, she must now reconcile her haunting past with the reality of parents (Cynthia Nixon and David Warshofsky) who are pretty much strangers, and a world she didn’t know existed.
And if you’re in the mood for a couple of chuckle-heads turned dramatic, Jonah Hill slips on his serious glasses to play Michael Finkel, a disgraced journalist who learns an obsessive murderer (James Franco) captured in Mexico is stealing his identity. Finkel travels to interview the prisoner in hopes of restoring his integrity. True Story has a limited release set for April 10.
Which ones are you most excited to see?