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Quint's going to Sundance and has a look at his most anticipated movies playing the fest!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. For the last three to four weeks I’ve been planning Sundance… as best I can. I’ll be on the ground with my faithful Kraken at my side in the freezing cold watching as many movies as I can from January 21st-January 31st. I’m at the point in my scheduling where interviews are starting to be locked, which always fucks up my careful plotting and sends my poor little list into chaos. That always happens with Sundance, but it is my goal to get as much done there as humanly possible. The programming appears to be exceptionally grand this year and I wanted to give you guys a little preview of what I’m most looking forward to. You’ll see a few familiar filmmakers and actors in the mix this year, which is sure to spark some “Fuck Sundance, it used to be about true independent film!” catcalls. To that I can only respond with a sincere “Bullshit!” At the end of the day Sundance is a film festival and is there to celebrate film, so its first priority has to be to program quality films. Of course, there are a ton of docs and first films in the line-up, which is good as Sundance’s secondary priority should be taking advantage of its status as being a “Buyer’s festival,” which means distributors and studios are crawling all over the place looking for the next LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE or RESERVOIR DOGS and a lot of young filmmakers’ dreams are made. But first and foremost on the programmers’ minds should be nabbing good movies. If this year’s schedule lives up to its promise it could be a legendary Sundance. If you have a film or short playing either Sundance or Slamdance drop me an email and give me a heads up. I won’t be covering Slamdance during my time there, but if I pick up a screener or two for some good movies I’ll cover them as well. One last thing before we get going… this isn’t the end all be all rundown of everything playing. These are all movies that have priority for me. If I can work some miracles I’d be watching every one of these movies. And I’ll usually add others to the list as the fest goes on and word of mouth spreads. Let’s take a look at the nearly 40 flicks I’m most anticipating, shall we?

Howl– James Franco, Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm, Treat Williams and David Strathairn star in this film about Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial. Howl kicks off Sundance and is written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Epstein having directed the original 1984 documentary on Harvey Milk.

Double Take– Get this… First time feature filmmaker Johan Grimonprez casts Alfred Hitchcock as a paranoid history professor living in Cold War times who sees a double of himself… I would assume the Alfred Hitchcock we all know… Using TV footage from the period Grimonprez also, apparently, casts John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Khruschev. Tell me you don’t want to watch that movie after seeing the above trailer.

Hesher– The cast on Hesher alone is worth every effort to see this movie. You got Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie and John Carroll Lynch in this story about a self-tattooed, long haired anarchist (Gordon-Levitt) who moves out of his van (down by the river?) and into the home of a grieving family, mourning the loss of the wife and mother. From Spencer Susser, the director of the neat zombie short I LOVE SARAH JANE (click here to watch the short!) comes this “darkly humorous” film.

Boy– From Eagle Vs. Shark’s Taika Waititi this movie is a coming of age in 1980s New Zealand flick about a boy (naturally) who grows up without his father. At the age of 11 his dad inexplicably shows up and is far from the heroic mental placeholder the kid envisioned. Looks cute, kind of in the same vein as SON OF RAMBOW.

Please Give– Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (LOVELY & AMAZING) brings us this Catherine Keener/Oliver Platt comedy about a New York couple raising a teenage daughter who want to expand their apartment. They work out a deal to buy the unit next to theirs, but they first have to wait for the elderly lady who occupies it to croak… which becomes slightly more complicated after they get to know her and her family.

Enter the Void– IRREVERSIBLE’s Gaspar Noe’s Torongo hit makes its way to Park City. Moriarty saw this and flipped for it… it’s about a drug-dealing teenager who makes a promise to his sister that he will never abandon her…and shortly thereafter is shot down by the Po-Po. Trying to keep his word, the teen’s spirit (heh) watches over his sister as the spirit world grows stranger and hallucinatory around him. Check out the teaser above, which looks like it could have been made by Kubrick.

Animal Kingdom– Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton Aussie crime story from the writer of above-mentioned Sundance flick HESHER (as well as the zombie short I Love Sarah Jane). I’m a big fan of Guy Pearce (who isn’t?) and loved Joel Edgerton in another fest-hit Aussie crime story called THE SQUARE, so yeah. I’ll see this one.

The Company Men from The Company Men on Vimeo.

The Company Men– Even with the surprising A-list cast (including Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello and Craig T. Nelson) what caught my eye and made this a must-watch flick for me was the name Roger Deakins. If you don’t recognize it, you’d recognize his work as one of the industry’s best cinematographers having shot almost every Coen Bros movie from Barton Fink on as well as The Shawshank Redemption and The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford. The flick is a drama about downsizing and our economic climate. I hope the movie’s thunder wasn’t stolen by Up In The Air, but it’s one I’m very curious to see.

Splice– On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is this Midnight entry produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Cube’s Vincenzo Natali, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. You may remember we ran some images from this movie a while back. It’s a monster tale centered around genetic engineering. There’s a clip that’s been floating around for a bit which you can see embedded above. Enjoy!

Welcome To The Rileys– James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo star in this drama also produced by Ridley Scott about a husband and wife that have to deal with the death of their teenage daughter, but do so in different ways. Leo is agoraphobic, terrified of leaving her house, which causes her husband to wander. Gandolfini at some point becomes the guardian of an underage hooker in New Orleans… played by Kristen Stewart… and Melissa Leo has to overcome her fear to track her man down and save the marriage. Do you want to see this movie now? I do.

Get Low– Cinematographer turned director Aaron Schneider helms this dramedy starring Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, Lucas Black and Sissy Spacek about an old hermit in 1930’s Tennessee (Duvall) who wants to throw a funeral party for himself… I guess so he can get all the benefits of his own funeral. I heard good word on this flick out of Toronto and I’m very glad to get a chance to see it at the festival. I’ll watch anything with Bill Murray in it and this one looks particularly entertaining.

New Low– To be honest, the thing that grabbed my attention on this movie as I scanned the Sundance schedule was that it screens with a new Drunk History short. If you haven’t ever seen a Drunk History short… well, I’m going to embed a few below:

This new Drunk History looks to star Will Farrell and Don Cheadle… it’s about Lincoln and Douglass… and it’s narrated by the super cute girl who did this (my favorite) Drunk History:

Sorry to co-opt New Low’s spot with a Drunk History post-a-thon, but if the programmers were confident enough to put the new Drunk History short before Adam Bowers’ homemade tale of a dude torn between the best possible girl for him and the worst then they have to be confident this film will deliver the goods. The trailer reminds me a bit of Clerks in its roughness and emotional forthrightness. Fingers crossed it’ll be as good.

Cyrus– Sundance favorites (and resident Austinites) The Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Baghead) return to Sundance with their big deal feature starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener and Jonah Hill as the title character. The flick’s about a depressed divorcee (Reilly) who meets the woman of his dreams (Tomei) and everything is perfect until he meets her son (Hill). Apparently their relationship is a bit on the uncomfortably close side.

Sympathy for Delicious– Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut starring Christopher Thornton (who also wrote the film), Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Juliette Lewis and John Carroll Lynch. The flick’s a comedy/drama about a paralyzed DJ. It has the pedigree, that’s for sure. We’ll see how it turns out.

Jack Goes Boating– Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut, starring himself, Amy Ryan and Tom McCarthy and based on the Broadway play of the same name that Hoffman also starred in. It’s about two couples… one a new relationship that is fulfilling and supportive… the other couple introduced them, but their own marriage is on the rocks. Sounds very New Yorky drama if you know what I mean, but not in a bad way.

Buried– Ryan Reynolds is a contract worker in Iraq that is buried alive with only his cell phone and a lighter to keep him company. Reynolds is supposedly the only on-screen cast member, the whole movie taking place in the coffin as Reynolds battles panic to try to figure out how to escape. It’s a great idea and I’ve always like Ryan Reynolds, so if director Rodrigo Cortes can keep the movie interesting this could be a real treat.

The Perfect Host– Thriller starring David Hyde Pearce and Helen Fuckin’ Reddy! That’s right, to those cool kids in the know they’ll remember Helen Reddy from Pete’s Dragon, one of my all-time favorite kids flicks. Described as a psychological thriller the flick’s about a bank robber who shows up to a dinner party pretending to be a friend of a friend, new to town. To me this sounds like a Tales From the Crypt-ish set-up where the consummate hosts might be the real threat. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Could be fun either way!

Lovers of Hate– In all fairness, this indie film stars a girl named Heather Kafka who is an Austin actress. I consider her a friend, but the addition of the title is no favor for her. I haven’t even talked to her about this movie and reading up on it it’d be one of the indie flicks I’d give a shot to anyway. It’s a love triangle type movie about two author brothers… the older is struggling and the younger is rich and famous from a series of kid’s books, the stories coming from their childhood collaboration. If it wasn’t enough the younger brother makes a move on his brother’s wife as their marriage is an inch away from shattering. The flick supposedly plays like a cat and mouse game in a ski lodge as the older brother finds out about the affair and torments the couple who have no idea he’s there.

The Runaways– Kristen Stewart’s Joan Jett biopic co-starring Dakota Fanning who is disturbingly sultry in the trailer. I talked about this flick in my regular 2010 preview pieces, but I’m very excited to see it. The trailer just screams fun to me and when Stewart cares about the movie she’s in I think she’s great (ie INTO THE WILD, ADVENTURELAND).

The Killer Inside Me– Promising to tread into a kind of psychological thriller noir world Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel stars Casey Affleck (and the guide says his performances “evokes shades of Robert Mitchum”), Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, Elias Koteas and Ned Beatty. It’s a period piece about a Sheriff in a small West Texas town dealing with a killer… but as more evidence becomes uncovered the more it points at the unassuming Sheriff. Winterbottom telling this story has me genuinely excited.

A Film Unfinished– A documentary about a movie… but a fascinating movie: the famous unfinished Nazi propaganda film focused on the Warsaw Ghetto. This documentary looks at the making of the Nazi film, uncovers a long-lost reel, shows us outtakes where we see the actors portraying the Jews (literally stepping over the dead bodies of their countrymen in order to eat at fancy restaurants) are actually being forced to portray the people that way… Fascinating subject matter and director Yael Hersonski even finds one of the original cameramen to talk about it how the film actually came to be.

Holy Rollers– Speaking of Jews in film, let’s move on to the (probably) lighter material in Holy Rollers starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Hasidic drug mule smuggling Ecstasy from Amsterdam to New York in the late ‘90s. I don’t know much about this movie… will it focus on the crime aspect? Is it a comedy? Is it a drug movie? A tale of temptation? All of the above? We’ll see.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work– From the directors of the acclaimed THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK comes this documentary on… Joan Rivers? Yes, I really want to see this. Joan Rivers is many things and outrageously funny is one of those things. And a little creepy, yes, but always entertaining. The guide promises a movie that is both funny and brutally honest, which is kind of Joan Rivers, isn’t it? IMBD says that Kathy Griffin and Don Rickles are both interviewed and that’s worth watching just by itself.

Louis C.K.: Hilarious– I may be interested in checking out the Joan Rivers documentary and expecting some funny, but with this documentary following Louis CK I’m almost giddy. I’ve seen Louis C.K.’s stand-up and there are only a handful of other comedians I’ve seen live that had me laughing as hard: George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt. I think this might just be a concert movie, not a behind the curtain type film, but either way it’s guaranteed to have my enormous belly hurting from 84 minutes of straight laughs. If you want a taste of why I love Louis CK check out the above clip from his Chewed Up tour!

High School– Stoner comedy time! This one’s about a valedictorian at a high school who gets baked once and finds himself facing a drug test. It’s the crazy hijinks that happen as he tries to resolve the situation. It’s got a great cast, too. Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis (as the straight-laced principal… I imagine a meatier version of the “Slacker!” dude from BACK TO THE FUTURE), Colin Hanks, Michael Vartan, Mykelti Williamson, Yeardly Smith (I don’t think I’ve seen her in a movie since MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE!) and Booger himself, Mr. Curtis Armstrong. This one stands a strong chance of be right up my alley.

The Extra Man– Paul Dano and Kevin Kline are unlikely friends. Dano wants to be a writer so naturally he moves to New York where he joins up with an eccentric, but brilliant playwright who moonlights as a social escort for the wealthy widows of New York’s high society. From the directors of American Splendor the flick co-stars John C. Reilly, Katie Holmes, Cathy Moriarty and Dan Hedeya.

Nowhere Boy– Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) plays young John Lennon in 1955 Liverpool. Love, Actually’s Thomas Sangster is Paul McCartney (that’s kind of perfect), newcomer Sam Bell is George Harrison… no sign of a Pete Best on IMDB. Oh, and Kristin Scott Thomas plays Lennon’s Aunt Mimi. Written by Control’s Matt Greenhalgh (he might know a little something about British music) I’m very much looking forward to this…

The Romantics– A Big Chill-ish movie starring Josh Duhamel, Jeremy Strong, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Adam Brody, Malin Ackerman and Anna Paquin. Instead of Kevin Costner’s funeral these friends reunite at a wedding and remember their freer glory days while some of those teenage hormones and rivalries resurface.

Twelve– Joel Schumacher’s crime-ridden drama starring Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Keiran Culkin, Fiddy Cent, Ellen Barkin and Keifer Sutherland. The story revolves around a high school dropout who sells pot to get by until his cousin is murdered and his best friend is accused of the crime. When Schumacher approaches gritty dramas he usually walks away smelling like roses. I love me some Falling Down and Phone Booth is very strong. Let’s hope it’s that guy who showed up to direct this one.

Restrepo– War doc about a fallen PFC named Restrepo whose teammates erect an outpost in his honor. Sebastian Junger (who wrote the novel The Perfect Storm) and Tim Hetherington (cinematographer on The Devil Came on Horseback) co-direct this film compiled of footage from a year’s worth of being dug in with the men of Restrepo in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, an al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold. War docs are a dime a dozen, but this one sticks out from the recent bunch for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the lack of in-depth video coverage of this war from the main news networks, maybe it’s the emotional promise of getting to know a platoon of soldiers… Maybe it’s all that, but I plan on catching this movie.

Bran Nue Dae– Here we have an Australian Musical featuring Geoffrey Rush as, if the trailer is to be believed, a singing and dancing preacher in the Australian brush. The below trailer is lively and looks like a ton of fun. Plus with cinematography by Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings) it’s gonna look like a million bucks. Make sure to check out the super energetic and fun-filled trailer above!

HappyThankYouMorePlease– How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor makes his directorial debut with this flick about a guy who questionably takes a young boy home after the youth is separated from his family in the New York subway system. It’s a relationship movie… how Radnor bonds with this kid and the friends in his life. Malin Ackerman, the lovely Kate Mara and Richard Jenkins co-star.

Teenage Paparazzo– This is a documentary from Entourage’s Adrian Grenier about him mentoring a 13 year old kid obsessed with celebrity. The kid snapped a photo of the actor, who took notice and decided to take him under his wing. Apparently the documentary is also a way for Grenier to work out his own ability to cope with his sudden celebrity. Paparazzo’s aren’t my favorite people in the world, but if it were some crazy Bugsy Malone universe and they all suddenly turned into children I think they’d be less scummy. Curious about this one.

Smash his Camera– Here’s another documentary about a paparazzo. This time it’s not a 13 year old kid, but one of the most famous of them all, one of the pioneers of the celebrity snap shot. Ron Galella got his jaw broken by Brando and was sued by Jackie O. Interesting life, even if I am a little hesitant to fully jump on board celebrating the pioneer of the Paparazzi. From Leon Gast, director of the great Rumble in the Jungle doc When We Were Kings.

Waiting For Superman– About the fucked up US school system, Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, It Might Get Loud)’s documentary apparently dissects America’s education program and offers up alternatives while reminding us that these statistics are in reality little kids with real lives and futures going to waste. Sounds depressing, but it could be a very interesting evisceration of the education system as it stands now.

7 Days– Revenge tale from French filmmaker Daniel Grou about the father of a murdered 8 year old girl and his cat and mouse game with the law as he abducts and tortures the accused murderer of his child for seven days. The film promises something more than your average torture movie and I hope we get that. This movie will be part of the Sundance Select series on the Sundance Channel. A few Sundance films will be available on Video On Demand through that channel coinciding with their premieres. 7 Days will be one of those, so check your cable or satellite dudes to watch it along with us out in the freezing cold!

CASINO JACK and the United States of Money– I greatly enjoyed Alex Gibney’s doc on Hunter S. Thompson (Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson) and now he’s got a new one on Jack Abramoff. Considering Gibney’s also the guy behind Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room I expect this one to be a gloves off look at the lobby industry and our fractured political system on the whole.

Blue Valentine– This is where Ryan Gosling went after leaving The Lovely Bones. It’s an indie drama about an imploding marriage co-starring Michelle Williams. In order to get the spark back they go to a theme hotel. The narrative is split between these two people trying to resuscitate their romance and their younger selves meeting and falling madly in love years earlier. Gosling and Williams are both great actors and I can see this story being furtile ground for them.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil– Comedy about two bumbling rednecks being mistaken for Deliverance-style abductors by hot and rich teens. Starring Alan Tudyk? As a hillbilly? Yes, please. The flick promises a ton of gore and much humor. I’m there.
And that’s the preview. Keep in mind there probably a good two dozen movies that are fantastic that just didn’t catch my eye on the program, but the above listed films all show promise. Also, missing from the list is Frozen, Adam Green's horror flick about twenty-somethings stuck on a ski lift in a blizzard. The only reason it's not on the list is because I've seen it and I can heartily recommend it to anybody attending the fest. Especially in the arctic weather of Park City. That's almost a William Castle bit of programming. See you folks in the snow! I’m following up Sundance with the Santa Barbara Film Festival, so you’re going to hear a whole hell of a lot from me over the next month and a half. You’ll be sick of me by the middle of February, I guarantee it. -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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