Yesterday the competition films were announced for Sundance; there’s some interesting stuff in there, but I always wait until I get to Park City to worry about those. They’re the films that live or die, for me, based on buzz at the festival. What I get excited about is the Midnight section, as well as the Spotlight. The Spotlight section plays films that have been hits elsewhere; the Midnight section is filled with the weird and the wild.
And the Midnight got weirder and wilder this year, as Jason Eisner’s Hobo With A Shotgun has been accepted! A feature length adaptation of the fake trailer Jason made for the Grindhouse trailer, competition, Hobo sees Rutger Hauer playing the titular gun-wielding homeless man. Rutger Hauer as a revenge driven, shotgun blasting bum… at Sundance!
There’s other great stuff in the Midnight this year. Troll Hunter plays; I loved that film at Fantastic Fest. The new Lucky McKee film, The Woman, is playing. And there’s a documentary about Roger Corman. And then Calvin Reeder, a truly idiosyncratic talent from the Pacific Northwest, who wowed Sundance with his bonkers short Little Farm, is back with a full length feature, The Oregonian.
The Spotlight has some choice films as well. Meek’s Cutoff, which got a ton of festival buzz in the fall, is playing. I Saw the Devil, a major hit I missed at Fantastic Fest, is coming to Park City. The apparently brilliant Submarine plays.
Here’s a list of all the Spotlight and Midnight movies:
Attenberg / Greece (Director and screenwriter: Athina Rachel Tsangari)- Marina, a young woman living with her father in a decaying, seaside factory town, acquires a new perspective on the mysteries of human nature after she meets a stranger. Cast: Ariane Labed, Yorgos Lanthimos, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou. U.S. Premiere
Elite Squad 2 (Tropa de Elite 2) / Brazil (Director: José Padilha; Screenwrtiers: Bráulio Mantovani, José Padilha and Rodrigo Pimentel) - Captain Nascimento of Rio de Janeiro’s special operations police unit has a new enemy: widespread corruption within the city. Cast: Wagner Moura, Seu Jorge, Tainá Müller, André Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz. International Premiere
I Saw the Devil (Akma-reul bo-attda) / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Kim Jee-woon) -
A young secret agent tracks a brutal serial killer who murdered his fiancée. Cast: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi. U.S. Premiere
In a Better World (Hævnen) / Denmark(Director: Susanne Bier; Story: Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen, Screenplay: Anders Thomas Jensen) - The lives of two Danish families become intertwined as an extraordinary but risky friendship develops. Cast: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Markus Rygaard and William Jøhnk Nielsen. U.S. Premiere
Incendies / Canada, France (Director: Denis Villeneuve, Screenwriters: Denis Villeneuve with the collaboration of Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne, based on a stage play Incendies by: Wajdi Mouawad) - A mother’s last wish sends Jeanne and Simon, twins living in Canada, on a journey to the Middle East in search of their tangled roots. Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard.
Kaboom / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gregg Araki) - A science fiction story centered on the sexual awakening of a group of college students. Cast: Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Juno Temple. U.S. Premiere
Letters From the Big Man / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Munch) - An artist and government hydrologist surveying a remote part of southwestern Oregon befriends a sasquatch man and must take bold steps to protect his privacy, as well as her own. Cast: Lily Rabe, Jason Butler Harner, Isaac C. Singleton Jr., Jim Cody Williams, Fiona Dourif. World Premiere
Meek’s Cutoff / U.S.A. (Director: Kelly Reichardt; Screenwriter: Jon Raymond) - In 1845, three families who have hired mountaineer Stephen Meek to guide their wagons over the Cascade Mountains get lost and face hunger, thirst and a lack of faith in their instincts for survival. Cast: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Zoe Kaza, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson.
Old Cats (Gatos Viejos) / Chile (Directors and screenwriters: Pedro Peirano and Sebastián Silva) - An old woman who realizes that her mind is quickly deteriorating desperately tries to hide this condition from her daughter, who waits keenly for any sign of senility in order to take her apartment. Cast: Bélgica Castro, Claudia Celedón, Catalina Saavedra, Alejandro Sieveking.
Submarine / United Kingdom (Director: Richard Ayoade; Screenwriter: Richard Ayoade from the novel by Joe Dunthorne) - Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents’ marriage and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Cast: Craig Roberts, Paddy Considine,Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige. U.S. Premiere
Uncle Kent / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Swanberg; Screenwriters: Joe Swanberg and Kent Osborne) - A pothead cartoonist in Los Angeles spends a weekend trying to sleep with his visiting house guest - a woman from New York he met on Chatroulette. Cast: Kent Osborne. World Premiere
PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
The Catechism Cataclysm / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Todd Rohal) - After becoming disinterested with the church, a priest tracks down his old classmate, a former metalhead whom he idolized in high school. When the two embark on a canoeing trip together, all hell breaks loose. Cast:Steve Little, Robert Longstreet, Walter Dalton, Miki Ann Maddox, Koko Lanham. World Premiere
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek) - A shy greeting card store employee unknowingly falls for a lesbian space alien while two government agents closely track their romance. Cast: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C Wright. World Premiere
Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel / U.S.A. (Director: Alex Stapleton) - Tracks the triumphant rise of Hollywood’s most prolific writer-director-producer, the true godfather of independent filmmaking. Cast: Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, James Cameron, Roger Corman. World Premiere
Hobo with A Shotgun / Canada (Director: Jason Eisener; Screenwriter: Johnathan Davies) - A hobo hops from a train with dreams of a fresh life in a new city, but instead finds himself trapped in an urban hell. When he witnesses a brutal robbery, he realizes the only way to deliver justice is with a shotgun in his hands and two shells in the chamber. Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Brian Downey. World Premiere
The Oregonian / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder) - After surviving a brutal car accident, a simple farm woman limps down the road into the nightmarish unknown. Cast: Lindsay Pulsipher, Robert Longstreet, Matt Olsen, Lynne Compton, Barlow Jacobs, Chadwick Brown, Jed Maheu, Roger M. Mayer. World Premiere
Septien / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Tully) - A reclusive sports hustler returns home to his family farm after years of absence to reunite with his two eccentric, unhinged and emotionally damaged brothers. Cast: Robert Longstreet, Onur Tukel, Michael Tully, Rachel Korine, Mark Robinson, John Maringouin. World Premiere
Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) / Norway (Director: Andre Ovredal) - A group of student filmmakers get more than they bargained for when tangling with a man tasked with protecting Norway from giant trolls. Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Hans Morten Hansen, Johanna Mørch, Tomas Alf Larsen. International Premiere
The Woman / U.S.A. (Director: Lucky McKee; Screenwriters: Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee) - When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy. Cast: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter, Zach Rand. World Premiere