By the time you read this, I will likely be en route to Park City, Utah to cover my fifth Sundance Film Festival. As you may have read, the annual indie film clusterfuck on ice is going through a period of transition. I have a story in this week's LA Weekly on how micro-budget films have, for better or for worse, been folded into this era of change. That said, as of this writing, I've seen less than a dozen of the 100+ movies set to unspool over the next ten days; after the jump you'll find a list of five films I'm excited to catch up with once I get up to the snow.
Widely pegged as the great white hope of this year's acquisitions scene, this domestic drama is director Derek Cianfrance's first feature since the 1998 Sundance almost-was Brother Tied. Buzz be damned, the big lure here is the cast. Stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are never not interesting alone; together, her quiet clarity seems the perfect match for his modulated intensity. But beware: last year's Big Buy title, Paper Heart, ended up making my list of the worst films of 2009.
One of three opening night premieres at this year's festival, this Allen Ginsberg biopic stars James Franco who, from his guest run on General Hospital to, um, his Wall Street Journal editorial defending his soap opera sojourn under the rubric of performance art, is currently at the top of my list for Most Fascinating Super Famous Person of 2010. Let's hope this movie doesn't blow his ranking.
"Pepperminta is a playful young woman...Colors are her best friends, strawberries are her pets, and the world outside her door is there to be licked. Together with a plump, shy young man named Werwen and Edna, a gender-bending gardener, Pepperminta sets out on a mission to fight for a more humane world." The synopsis of the first feature film by Pippilotti Rist makes it sound absolutely unbearable, but as a fan of her batshit insane video artwork, I must see it.
Smash His Camera
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we unknowingly influence Adnan Ghalib. I've heard nothing but raves regarding this documentary about Ron Galella, the prototype for today's paparazzo-as-bad boy star. In conjunction with the premiere, Park City's Gallery MAR is hosting an exhibit of 30+ prints of Galella's celebrity candids.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
As a die-hard Riversite (I've even seen the TV movie in which Joan and Melissa play themselves), there's no chance I'd be able to resist this nonfiction film. But I'm doubly intrigued by the fact that it was directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, who were last at Sundance supporting their devastating Darfur doc, The Devil Came on Horseback. From genocide to a groundbreaking comedienne-turned-self-made Dorian Grey? Sounds about right.
Tags: adnan ghalib, britney spears, howl, james franco, joan rivers, michelle williams, pepperminta, ron galella, ryan gosling, sundance, sundance film festival, sundance sales, the devil came on horseback