Can’t Make it to Park City? Fear Not.

cut and paste job from DVDtown

The Sundance Film Festival has been an independent film institution for years, but for the first time, even if you can’t get to Park City, you can still experience the joys of discovering new and exciting films through a new partnership between Sundance Selects, the new video-on-demand film label, and the Sundance Institute.

Sundance Selects and the Sundance Institute are collaborating to bring films from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to a national audience for the first time via an on-demand platform, giving film lovers coast-to-coast the opportunity to experience a major film festival as it happens right from their own living room. As part of the “Direct From the Sundance Film Festival” initiative, a select group of three films screening at the festival will simultaneously be available in 40 million homes–and virtually all major U.S. markets–nationwide on-demand through the Sundance Selects VOD label. The films in the partnership represent the broad range of cinematic expression found in this year´s festival, from a highly anticipated documentary, to a thrilling Park City at Midnight title, and a critically acclaimed comedy.

It’s a bold move, because being available in 40 million homes and being downloaded in them are two different things. As festival publicists point out, this is a defining moment for a new decade of independent film, giving emerging and established filmmakers new models to explore outside the standard distribution system, and what happens here could determine the future of independent films.

Here are the three films that will be available:

Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross´ eye-opening socio-political documentary “The Shock Doctrine” will make its North American premiere simultaneously at the festival and on-demand on Thursday, January 28. Closely based on the best-selling book by Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine” seeks to explain the rise of disaster capitalism: the exploitation of moments of crisis in vulnerable countries by governments and big business. The film traces the doctrine´s beginnings in the radical theories of Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, and its subsequent implementation over the past 40 years in countries as disparate as Augusto Pinochet´s Chile, Boris Yeltsin´s Russia, Margaret Thatcher´s Great Britain, and most recently through the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Winterbottom and Whitecross present a cinematic experience that takes this theory to a new audience, making heavy use of archival images, offset with new footage of Klein’s interviews.

Making its North American premiere on Friday, January 22nd is “Daddy Longlegs” (formerly known as “Go Get Some Rosemary”), Josh and Benny Safdie´s autobiographical fairy tale and bittersweet comedy about the responsibilities of parenthood. Divorced and alone, Lenny (Ronald Bronstein) is the father of two young boys who he gets to see a couple of weeks a year. He cherishes these days with the kids, being both stern parent and lovable buddy, inventing myths and somehow living them, all while working overtime in the big city. When the going gets tough, Lenny uses some unusual, perhaps even hazardous, techniques to keep the kids safe from the world. With a fluid style, the Safdie brothers (whose previous credits include the acclaimed “The Pleasure of Being Robbed”) capture the magic of parenthood, invoking memories of their inventive dad from their own childhood.

Making its World Premiere on Friday, January 22nd, as part of the Park City at Midnight program, Daniel Grou´s dark and gritty “7 DAYS” (based on the best-selling novel from Patrick Senecal, known as the Stephen King of Canada) centers on a successful surgeon whose world is torn apart by the murder of his eight-year-old daughter. The father embarks on a quest for revenge against the perpetrator of this heinous crime, and in a game of cat and mouse with the police detectives assigned to the case, he successfully kidnaps the accused murderer as he is transported to the courthouse. With the roles now reversed, this father-turned-predator drives his prey to a remote cabin, where seven days of unspeakable torture await. He even keeps the police apprised of his plan, vowing to turn himself in after the execution of this alleged monster. Director Daniel Grou aka Podz does a masterful job of immersing the audience in this dark and gritty world, deftly capturing the psyche of a sane man gone mad. “7 DAYS” is an eye-for-an-eye tale that is chock-full of tension, suspense, and inner conflict.


Footage: Jack Goes Boating

It’s hard to deny the fact that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one of the top performers working in Hollywood today. He absolutely nails it every single time he’s on screen. His characters are always memorable and he carries about him a presence that few leading (or supporting) actors can claim. So with this in mind, of course Jack Goes Boating is one of my more anticipated films to be released this year. Beyond Hoffman playing one of the leads, this will be his first attempt sitting behind the camera in the director’s chair. So yes, fans will get their first glimpse of Hoffman’s directorial debut this weekend as the film premiers at Sundance.

Though no trailer officially exists for the film, a couple of short clips from the movie have been dug up. It showcases the chemistry between the two lead couples and I have to say, early gut feeling on this one is positive. I’ve enjoyed seeing John Ortiz in just about everything since his awesome villain role in Miami Vice for which he might’ve been easily type cast. This movie will hopefully cure him of that potential threat. Also, I’ve not seen a whole lot of Amy Ryan since her great performance in 2007’s Gone Baby, Gone; so it will be nice to catch up with her.


Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples. Bob Glaudini (”A View From 151st Street”) adapted his acclaimed Off Broadway play for the screen. Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Connie (Amy Ryan) are two single people who on their own might continue to recede into the anonymous background of the city, but in each other begin to find the courage and desire to pursue their budding relationship. In contrast, the couple that introduced them, Clyde (John Ortiz) and Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), are confronting unresolved issues in their marriage. Jack is a limo driver with vague dreams of landing a job with the MTA and an obsession with reggae that has prompted him to begin a half-hearted attempt at growing dreadlocks. He spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend and fellow driver Clyde and Clyde’s wife Lucy. t as Jack and Connie cautiously circle commitment, Clyde and Lucy’s marriage begins to disintegrate. From there, we watch as each couple comes face to face with the inevitable path of their relationship.



Trailer for John C. Reilly’s Cyrus

I don’t really have much to say about this one, besides that it looks like it could go either way. Premiering at Sundance, the movie follows a lonely, recently divorced man (John C. Reilly) who meets the woman of his dreams (Marisa Tomei) – the only problem being her 21-year-old resentful son (Jonah Hill). It looks like we are going to see something a little more restrained from Hill, which surely will have all eyes on his to see if there is more to him than just the loud-mouthed asshole that people want to pin him as in his movies.

It’s written and directed by the Duplass Brothers, who some may remember from the mediocre Baghead. Again, I think this movie could go either way from what I see in the trailer (which, I must say, has an awesome use of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes), but with these three and Catherine Keener on board as the ex-wife, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be quite the gem. That four very solid actors to have in your film. Keep your eyes peeled for Sundance reviews around the web, which are hopefully positive.

Movie Club Podcast #16: The Warriors and After Hours

It’s the Film Junk podcast crew (Sean and Jay) teaming up with Row Three’s Marina, Andrew, Kurt and Matt Gamble (a regular on the R3 Cinecast and Where the Long Tail Ends) in a nice roundtable discussion on two all-in-one-night New York odyssey films: Martin Scorcese’s intense and comedic After Hours, and Walter Hill’s colourful and stylish The Warriors.

The movie club is as much for the listeners as it is the contributors. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section over at the movie club page and we’re happy to banter on with a little back and forth. Whether it is the comic book transitions added into the 2005 directors cut of The Warriors, or whether or not Griffin Dunne’s character is an asshole in After Hours, we were fairly passionate in the discussion. Enjoy the show!

Comments are turned off on this post, so head on over to THE MOVIE CLUB PODCAST site and listen or comment there.

BAFTA Nominations



Exactly a month before its awards ceremony, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations have been released. Another of the many possible indicators of what will be on Oscar ballots, the BAFTAs are always fun to peruse since they tend to include a couple of surprises and films that aren’t on the same calendar cycle as North America.

You can find the full list of their nominees on their site, but here’s a list of the “major” ones:


An Education
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air

An Education
Fish Tank
In The Loop
Nowhere Boy

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer for Conor McPherson’s Ghostly Romance The Eclipse

The Eclipse Movie StillConor McPherson’s The Eclipse (review) is a murky gem. Part ghost story, part thriller and part romance, it doesn’t traverse deep enough into any one of its genre’s to make it easily classifiable and perhaps that’s the film’s appeal. Walking away I was impressed by some aspects and underwhelmed by others but I must admit that it’s a film that I’ve thought about on occasion in the months since seeing it and one I’ve been looking forward to seeing again.

The film stars the great Ciarán Hinds as a widower living on the Irish coast who, every year, volunteers at the local writer’s festival. He strikes up a relationship with a Lena (Iben Hjejle), a visiting author who writer about ghosts. What stars as a casual friendship develops into awkward romantic one that goes sideways when a pompous American author (the fabulous Aidan Quinn) decides to grace the small town with his presence.

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the film but it does have a lot going for it, namely the haunting score, beautiful cinematography and great performances from Hinds and Quinn. It’s a fascinating melding of genres and one I’d like a second chance to experience.

Magnolia is releasing the film on VOD, Amazon and XBox live on February 26th followed on March 26th with what I can only assume will be a limited release.

Trailer is tucked under the seat!
Would you like to know more…?

Foreign Langauge Oscar Short List

After all the love on the festival circuit, I am surprised not to see Police, Adjective on the final short list for the Best Foreign Language Film nominees. Looks like Michael Haneke is the clear front-runner in this category with The White Ribbon, but this one is often very hard to predict. And yes, it is sad that Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother did not make the cut, as it is a very strong film with a fabulous central performance. Argentina’s entry, El Secreto de Sus Ojos, stars the great Ricardo Darín (Nine Queens, El Aura), who would have been in two films on this list if Spain’s entry, (no, it was not Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces) Fernando Trueba’s The Dancer and The Thief, had made the cut; which it did not.

AMPAS has narrowed it down to nine (below), with further pruning to five entries forthcoming.

El Secreto de Sus Ojos, Juan Jose Campanella – Argentina
Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton – Australia
The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, Stephan Komandarev – Bulgaria
Un Prophete, Jacques Audiard – France
The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke – Germany
Ajami, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani – Israel
Kelin, directed by Ermek Tursunov – Kazakhstan, – Kazakhstan
Winter in Wartime, directed by Martin Koolhoven – The Netherlands
The Milk of Sorrow, directed by Claudia Llosa – Peru

Want to know what other countries’ entries missed out? Check out all the details at The Film Experience.

(500) Days of Summer Director Nabs Spider-Man

I‘m sure you’ve heard the news by now. Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire are out of Sony’s Spider-Man franchise and Marc Webb of television commercial and (500) Days of Summer fame is on board, in an effort to completely reboot the super successful movie franchise.

It’s an interesting move for the company, as Webb has only one feature film under his belt, although with reports indicating that this reboot is going to be less special effects driven (word of an $80 million budget is floating around the trades, but I don’t believe Sony has confirmed that) and based on the Ultimate Spider-Man universe (from the pen of Zodiac writer James Vanderbilt), maybe it’s not so surprising.

People around the web are wondering what the chances are of Joseph Gordon-Levitt hopping on board, since he and director Webb are pretty tight. I wouldn’t count it out, but I certainly would not bank on it either. With the studio going to way of Ultimate (which I have never read… I grew up on the 80s and 90s Spider-Man comics), we’ll be seeing Peter Parker back in high school, where, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the film will have a heavy focus on this “teenager grappling with normal teen problems while also dealing with his superpowers.” Sure, even approaching thirty, JGL could probably pull off a high schooler with his boyish looks, but I’m going to say that I don’t think they’re going to go that route here. Dare I say it would be a waste of his talents anyway, even if great, hip, serious actors nowadays seem to all have their action-blockbusters to pay off their penthouses? Bale has his Batman, Downey Jr. his Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, Depp his Pirates, and Jackman his X-Men after all.

Some may find it a little early for a reboot and a risky move by Sony, but maybe it’s not so bad as it seems on first glance. Yeah, it’s a shame they didn’t let Raimi do his thing (in which I still swear that Raimi purposely botched Spider-Man 3 in retaliation for them forcing certain aspects of the plot on him), but a fresh start doesn’t have to be so bad, especially if it is bringing the creativity of someone like Webb. Keep the movie fun (if we want dark, we’ll watch Batman), keep the special effects a little lighter, and maybe we can have something interesting and unique on are hands and not just another throwaway superhero movie. Peter Parker is a great character (and arguably the most interesting one in all of mainstream comics) with an abundance of storylines to choose from, so I’m interested to see where this all ends up.

They’re currently aiming for a Summer 2012 release, so expect plenty of news and rumors to make their way onto the internet over the next few months. I bet the reboot fueling rumors of Spider-Man’s inclusion in an Avengers movie will only be a matter of time. If anything legit and interesting comes up, we’ll make sure to keep you up to date on the news, because although we’re more than big budget blockbusters here in the third row, that doesn’t mean they don’t pique our interest on occasion.

Andrea Arnold Tackles Doomed Romance

Andrea ArnoldAndrea Arnold is one of the most well respected, up-and-coming female directors of the past few years and for good reason. Though Red Road still alludes me, having seen Fish Tank I can’t help but think it too is nothing short of a masterpiece. But we’re not here to muse over how outstanding her career is shaping up to be but rather to share some news which frankly, have me a little surprised.

Arnold has built a reputation for herself by telling stories of strong, female protagonists so it may not come as too much of a shocker that she’s been hired to adapt Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” For those who may not have read the classic it’s the tragic love story (many argue it’s actually a tale of revenge) which follows the life of Heathcliff, a mysterious gypsy-like person, from childhood to his death in his late thirties. Heathcliff rises in his adopted family and then is reduced to the status of a servant, running away when Cathy Earnshaw, the young woman he loves decides to marry another. He returns later, rich and educated and sets about gaining his revenge on the two families that he believed ruined his life.

It’s a rough book, one I really disliked the first time I read it but I can see why it would be appealing to Arnold. It’s a difficult love story which, at its very center, focuses on something at the core of both of her films: class divide. I’m a little disappointed to discover that Arnold isn’t adapting the novel herself but rather taking on a script written by Olivia Hetreed. Either way this is starting to shape into a not-to-be-missed period romance and knowing Arnold, one that doesn’t rest solely on its good looks but which will also provide more than a few uncomfortable moments.