Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sundance 2013

Movies Sundance 2013

To begin this little journal, I have to start by thanking my parents, for the past 2 years (and hopefully for many more years to come) my birthday gift has been a trip to Sundance!  They own a condo in Park City Utah, right near the Deer Valley Ski resort-they bought it about 10 years ago because Salt Lake City is a non-stop flight from Dallas, Oklahoma City (where they live) and Portland Oregon (where my brother and his family live) For my brother’s 45th birthday, he asked to go to Sundance with his wife-wow, I didn’t even know that was an option, so I have asked for that now! Last year it was my present and my oldest daughter’s, she was a freshman in college and last year she had a long winter break (that stopped now that she is a sophomore) so my middle daughter received it, and my nephew who is also 18 got this from our family for his birthday last year, this year, graduation, Hanukkah and a little help from his parents!  He is the filmmaker of the family, and had short films submitted and presented at a multitude of festivals, even the Jim Henson foundation used one of his films in training. Last spring he and some classmates won the Best High School short award at South by Southwest (SXSW) yes, very proud Auntie!!  Last year, my oldest and I got a ticket package, so we had to decide which movies we wanted to see in December, and hope we got tickets to the ones we wanted and which ones would work in our schedule.  It ended up great and we saw some wonderful films.  This year, the 3 of us has “Award weekend passes” so for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we could see any movies we wanted, as long as they were playing and we had arrived 30 minutes ahead and got seats.  This was fabulous and now I can’t imagine going any other way!  It was so easy to pick our movies, and once the 3 of us were headed to one movie then my nephew quickly changed his mind and took a bus to a different one---without a pass, this could not be done (thanks again to my parents----this was amazing!) We all saw 5 movies on Friday, I saw 5 on Saturday, they saw 5 on Saturday, and then we saw 3 on Sunday. 

If you every plan on going to Sundance and want to see a ton of movies, you need to realize, that all you will be doing all day is either, getting in line, getting in seats, watching movies (rinse & repeat) you don’t think about eating, sleeping, talking on the phone or even email (as anyone who tried to contact me last weekend now knows!) You might see celebrities, you might not, you might recognize them and you might not (last year my dad was in a private club getting ready to ski and spent a great deal of time talking with Bradley Cooper, and even after hearing his name, he had no idea who he was… embarrassing!)  I saw more celebrities last year, and that was fun, but I didn’t take any pictures, I just thanked them for all they do for the community.  Yes, I am that geeky!

One of the best parts of the event is hearing the passion from the screen writers and the directors.  About their stories of bringing a movie from set to screen, the process, the time, the waiting etc.  It is very exciting and they are beaming in front of you.  I loved seeing their excitement-it is truly a blessing.

So, below, I have written about all the movies I saw, a little grade I gave them, a little reason why I liked them and then their synopsis, directors, screenwriters and stars which were on the Sundance site.  Some of these movies could be coming to the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), and I hope they do.  Last year there were some of the Sundance movies I missed and was able to see them there. I just signed up to volunteer at the festival-maybe one day I can volunteer at Sundance and be there all 10 days-------I can dream, right?

Friday January 25th

Sweetwater-1st movie we saw, didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it, some very funny lines by Ed Harris, January Jones did very well. would give it a “B”
Against the backdrop of the American Old West, newlyweds Miguel and Sarah struggle to make a living cultivating their small patch of land. Soon a much bigger struggle arises as powerful landowner and community preacher Prophet Josiah makes a play for their property. As he launches his diabolical plot to take their land, an eccentric big-city sheriff comes to town. Things soon go from bad to worse, culminating in a jaw-dropping, hell-hath-no-fury showdown.

Sweetwater boldly establishes its own identity while remaining true to the tenets of the western genre. Wonderfully cinematic, this expressive tale is superbly directed by the Miller brothers, who extract strong performances from the ensemble cast. Ed Harris is especially striking in a bravura role as the sheriff. With the magnificent New Mexico countryside as their canvas, the Miller brothers imaginatively stroke their cinematic brush across an intense but humorous film.

Directors: Logan Miller, Noah Miller
Screenwriters: Logan Miller, Noah Miller, Andrew McKenzie, based on a story by Andrew McKenzie
Principal Cast: Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs, Eduardo Noriega, Jason Aldean, Stephen Root

Afternoon Delight- really enjoyed this, mom was a JCC preschool mom, so the whole jewish preschool mom stereotype cracked me up!  Also love Josh Radner from How I met your mother, so enjoyed this, probably a B+
Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is.

In a perfect storm of hilarious writing, performance, and direction, first-timer Jill Soloway pinpoints the ambivalence of privileged, educated women seduced by an idealized vision of marriage and motherhood, yet deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, lackluster sex lives, and careers that have gone kaput. Afternoon Delight compassionately revels in the existential trials of a Peter Pan generation battling too many choices, resisting adulthood, and distractedly tapping their iPhones instead of tuning in to what matters
Director: Jill Soloway
Screenwriter: Jill Soloway
Principal Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch
Also won the directing award for the 2013 festival!
Directing Award: U. S. Dramatic

Breathe In-definitely our favorite by then, it was very intense, and quiet, you could read their emotions on their faces, tough choices, but closer to real life, And Guy Pearce is excellent….A J
As summer turns to fall, music teacher Keith Reynolds privately reminisces about his days as a starving artist in the city. While his wife, Megan, and daughter, Lauren, look forward to Lauren’s final year of high school, Keith clings to those evenings he’s asked to sub as a cellist with a prestigious Manhattan symphony. When Megan decides the family should host foreign exchange student Sophie, the British high school senior soon rekindles an impetuous aspect of Keith’s personality.

Drake Doremus, winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Like Crazy, reunites with actress Felicity Jones and cowriter Ben York Jones for this passionate ensemble drama of family dysfunction. Ditching the hand-held aesthetic of his past works, Doremus conceives a grander story of love and heartache, only heightened by his lead character’s symphonic avocation, while maintaining his keen eye for intimate performance.
Director: Drake Doremus
Screenwriters: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Principal Cast: Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, Amy Ryan, Mackenzie Davis

The Spectacular Now-excellent teenage movie, I was bothered by a couple of things that weren’t answered, my nephew told me not to worry about those things, so obviously he thought it was a great screen-play and not needed, very thought provoking and real, the leads ended up winning acting awards! An A
Sutter Keely lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified 7UP cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky hovering over him. Not a member of the cool crowd, she’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She does have dreams, while Sutter lives in a world of impressive self-delusion. And yet they’re drawn to each other.

Adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel, The Spectacular Now captures the insecurity and confusion of adolescence without looking for tidy truths. Young actors rarely portray teens with the maturity that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley display, and they are phenomenal together. Funny, compassionate, and poignant, James Ponsoldt’s third feature again demonstrates his ability to lay bare the souls of his character
Director: James Ponsoldt
Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by Tim Tharp
Principal Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
The teen leads won this award-------and it is not just for teens!

U. S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting

Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Kill Your Darlings-I really enjoyed this, the teens did not, this was NOT a typical Daniel Radcliffe role, so that could have been it, or because it was a true story with a lot of history could have been why I liked it so much, well done, excellent talent, A
While he is attending Columbia University in 1944, the young Allen Ginsberg’s life is turned upside down when he sets eyes on Lucien Carr, an impossibly cool and boyishly handsome classmate. Carr opens Ginsberg up to a bohemian world and introduces him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Repelled by rules and conformity in both life and literature, the four agree to tear down tradition and make something new, ultimately formulating the tenets of and giving birth to what became the Beat movement. On the outside, looking in, is David Kammerer, a man in his thirties desperately in love with Carr. When Kammerer is found dead, and Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr are arrested in conjunction with the murder, the nascent artists’ lives change forever.

Daniel Radcliffe fearlessly takes on the role of the young Ginsberg on a journey of discovery—to find his sexuality and his voice as a writer. Cowriter/director John Krokidas takes on this less-explored early chapter of the Beats and captures the period with visual flair, kinetic energy, and imagination. Kill Your Darlings is the riveting true story of a crime, a friendship, and the nexus that spawned a cultural movement
Director: John Krokidas
Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
Principal Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen

Saturday January 26th

In a World-this was definitely more of a comedy than a drama, very sweet and funny, well acted and well written, Lake Bell won a screenwriting award that evening so I was bummed she didn’t show up to this screening though-A
Carol Solomon is a struggling vocal coach. Propelled by the hubris of her father, Sam Sotto, the reigning king of movie-trailer voice-over artists, Carol musters the courage to pursue her secret aspiration to be a voice-over star. Her fiery sister, Dani, becomes a trusted confidante, and Carol engages the skills of a charming sound techie named Louis. Armed with renewed confidence, Carol lands her first voice-over gig—a primo spot—nabbing the job from industry bad boy Gustav Warner. And then the real trouble begins. Carol becomes entangled in a web of dysfunction, sexism, unmitigated ego, and pride.

Lake Bell returns (her short film Worst Enemy played at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival) with her enchanting feature directorial debut. The multitalented Bell also wrote and stars in this hilarious comedy. With the help of a captivating ensemble cast that includes Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, and Rob Corddry, In A World…brings its viewer into an idiosyncratic world where one woman fights the odds and finally finds her voice.
Director: Lake Bell
Screenwriter: Lake Bell
Principal Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed
It Won this AWARD!
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic

Toy’s House-I promise you, we saw so many great movies and this was one of them, and many of them were about teenagers, and I had 2 18 year olds with me, we all enjoyed this great movie about independence A
Joe Toy, on the verge of adolescence, finds himself increasingly frustrated by his single father, Frank’s, attempts to manage his life. Declaring his freedom once and for all, he escapes to a clearing in the woods with his best friend, Patrick, and a strange kid named Biaggio and announces that they are going to build a house there—free from responsibility and parents. Once their makeshift abode is finished, the three young men find themselves masters of their own destiny, alone in the woods.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of the short Successful Alcoholics, which screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, returns with a feature film debut fueled by teenage angst and childlike imagination. Anchored by the comedic performances of newcomers Nick Robinson, Moises Arias, and Gabriel Basso, Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta create a humorous coming-of-age tale that deftly combines moments of heartfelt rebellion and complete lunacy
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Screenwriter: Chris Galletta
Principal Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Prince Avalanche-this was my least favorite movie I saw the entire festival, Paul Rudd was excellent, but serious, Emile was great, the story had some great moments, but it was slow and confusing, not my favorite by any means-C
An odd couple of sorts, meditative and stern Alvin and his girlfriend’s brother, Lance, dopey and insecure, leave the city behind to spend the summer in solitude repainting traffic lines down the center of a country highway ravaged by wildfire. As they sink into their job in the remarkable landscape, they learn more than they want to about each other and their own limitations. An unlikely friendship develops through humor and nasty exchanges, leading to surprising affection.

Adapted from Icelandic film Either Way, Prince Avalanche is driven by wonderful performances by Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, and Lance LeGault. Writer/director David Gordon Green gets back to his independent roots with this character study, which shows his knack for realistically capturing people and finding meaning in their lives and dreams. With a soundtrack by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo and gorgeous cinematography by Tim Orr, Prince Avalanche bucks convention by exploring male bonding in a refreshingly genuine way
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenwriter: David Gordon Green
Principal Cast: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch

The Way Way Back-Definitely one of my very favorites, and before I saw it I learned this was sold for 20 million dollars! Was written by the writers of the Decendents, Nat Faxon (Ben on Fox’s BEN & KATE, and Jim Rash, the Dean on NBC’s COMMUNITY, and they both were in it, but not the stars.  So wish they had been there, but it was a premiere (and could not win an award) they were long gone by this time. Steve Carell plays an ass, which is surprising, because we all are so used to him being funny, a touching story, very well acted and so mesmorizing. A+
The Way, Way Back tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local waterpark where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan—with encouragement from Owen—begins to open up and come into his own.

Mining the caverns of human vulnerability for the humor necessary to make life bearable, first-time directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have transformed their terrific screenplay into a bittersweet comedy that is both charming and insightful. Boasting an extraordinary ensemble of some of the most revered actors working today, as well as a young actor destined to join their ranks,
 The Way, Way Back brims with nostalgia for the magical time of adolescence, as well as the great coming-of-age films of the 1980s that captured its wide-eyed confusion and wonder.
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Screenwriters: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Principal Cast: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James

Mud, I have to admit, I didn’t want to see this, what a stupid name and the Winning Dramatic movie was also playing at this time, but it was not announced, I wanted to take a chance and go to the TBA instead, SO GLAD WE DID NOT! This was excellent, Matthew McConney was amazing and these kids were awesome, great story and totally worth it!! A+
Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, consummate storyteller Jeff Nichols, whose Take Shelter premiered to great acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, returns to Park City with this homespun fable set on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

Ellis and Neckbone are best friends approaching the twilight of their youth. While exploring, they stumble upon the hiding place of charismatic outlaw Mud (played with controlled charm by a well-cast Matthew McConaughey), who takes a quick liking to the boys and recruits them to his cause: the search for true love and a clean getaway.

Illustrating a vibrant imagination, sumptuous attention to detail, and a remarkable gift for extracting magnetic performances from a talented ensemble, Nichols hurtles us into the middle of a lush adventure, ensnaring the excitement every youngster feels when trouble lurks everywhere and anything is possible. Steeped in the vanishing myth of the Deep South, a place that Nichols dearly loves, Mud’s handcrafted vision shines through in each richly textured frame and proves a tall tale for the ages
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Principal Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard

Sunday January 27th

Shorts Award Winners—
Short Film Grand Jury Prize

Short Film Jury Award: US Fiction

Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction

Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction

Short Film Jury Award: Animation

Short Film Special Jury Award for Acting

Short Film Special Jury Award

Kahlil Joseph, Until the Quiet Comes
Short Film Audience Award, Presented by YouTube

An aspiring drummer enters an elite conservatory’s top jazz orchestra.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Screenwriter: Damien Chazelle
Executive Producers: Jason Reitman, Jason Blum
Principal Cast: J. K. Simmons, Johnny Simmons

Since we hadn’t seen any short films, we thought we should go see the winning ones—UGH, it was awful, out of the 8 , we only really enjoyed one, Whiplash (I profile it above) next year my nephew will definitely submit something (he will be at NYU film school, and will have a place to stay if he comes in!) So many of his films are better than the winners, it was uncomfortable how awful some of them were…. C

US Grand Jury Prize and Award Winner Documentary-
U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary

Audience Award: U.S. Documentary presented by Acura

This supposedly had NEVER happened and then Both documentary and Dramatic films won both the audience and the jury awards. I heard lots of ramblings from some regular festival goers that it was a waste, there should have been more films being shown on that closing day----but we thought it was cool to be there when history happened J

Blood Brother-I didn’t want to see this, AIDS and children in India, what a depressing subject, we had talked about seeing a foreign film, but my daughter was concerned about the subtitles, so last minute we chose to see this and so glad we did, it was a love letter film from the director to his best friend, so proud of all he has done to help save the world, one child at a time!  An A for sure!
The unmistakable power of love is celebrated in this story of one man’s decision to move to India and restart his life among the dispossessed. “Rocky Anna,” as the children living at an orphanage for those infected with HIV know him, was dissatisfied with his life in America. Having grown up without a close-knit family of his own, he found his calling living and working with kids in need. Unlike others who simply passed through their lives, Rocky stayed, dedicating himself to their health and well-being. Despite formidable challenges, his playful spirit and determination in the face of despair proves to be an invaluable resource.

Director Steve Hoover—who is best friends with his subject—ventured to India to chronicle Rocky’s newfound life in this beautifully crafted and personal film. The bond Rocky forges with his friend and the deep connection he makes with the children he serves is Blood Brother’s testament to one person’s ability to create a meaningful life
Director: Steve Hoover
Executive Producers: Steve Hoover, Leigh Blake, John Carlin

US Grand Jury Prize and Award Winner Dramatic
U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic

Audience Award: U. S. Dramatic presented by Acura

Fruitvale –fabulous, the only bad part was that by the last day I had heard so many excellent stories about this film and how hard everyone cried and that I needed to bring Kleenex, that I still loved it, but I did not cry, it was so well done and so enrapturing and based on a true story (that is what upset so many people) An A for sure
Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed himwith their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Director Ryan Coogler makes an extraordinary directorial debut with this soulful account of the real-life event that horrified the nation. Featuring radiant performances by Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan as Grant, a young man whose eyes were an open window into his soul,
 Fruitvale offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today
Director: Ryan Coogler
Screenwriter: Ryan Coogler
Principal Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O'Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray

Other Movies I heard about that were wonderful—and still want to see-

A.C.O.D. –not playing while I was there, my mom saw it and loved it!
Carter has spent much of his life mediating fights between his acrimoniously divorced, ill-behaved mother and father and taking on the role of designated authority figure to his carefree younger brother, Trey. Inspired by Trey’s sudden engagement, Carter resolves to negotiate a truce between his parents, a process that nearly unhinges him. Adding Adding insult to injury, a frantic sprint back to his childhood therapist, Dr. Judith, reveals he was a prime subject in her self-help book on the “least-parented, least-nurtured generation” ever. Dr. Judith may not be able to help him, but she’s delighted he’s come back and inspired a sequel.
Director: Stuart Zicherman
Screenwriters: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman
Principal Cast: Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke

Aint them Bodies Saints-heard great things about this one, but my schedule didn’t allow it L
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

The barren landscapes of David Lowery’s poetic feature evoke the mythology of westerns and saturate the dramatic space with fatalism and an aching sense of loss. Aided by powerfully restrained performances by Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster, Lowery incorporates an unnerving tension into the film, teetering it at the edge of violence.

The beautiful, irreconcilable dilemma of the story is that Ruth—compelled by the responsibilities of motherhood and her evolving relationship with the deputy she shot—remains haunted by her intense feelings for Bob. Each of them longs for some form of peace. Ironically, it’s Bob, the unrepentant criminal trapped in the romantic image of a bygone past, who is driven by an almost righteous sense of clarity. Following in the footsteps of Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde, Lowery’s humanism transcends the genre.
Director: David Lowery
Screenwriter: David Lowery
Principal Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine
Also won an award for the 2013 festival
Cinematography Award: U. S. Dramatic

Austenland-my mother LOVED this, sounds like a Christopher Guest film, she said Jennifer Coolidge was excellent, I wanted it to win some award so it would play the last day, but it didn’t so I couldn’t see it.
Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her thirties, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen. Careworn by love, she saves enough to fulfill her dream of stepping into Austen’s world and heads to Austenland for an “immersive” vacation to eschew all things modern. And it couldn’t be more perfect. There’s an imposing manor with verdant grounds for afternoon promenades, rosy-faced servants, trusty steeds for hunting expeditions, gilded drawing rooms for evenings spent in polite conversation, and, yes, gallant young suitors. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, she’s relegated to lesser quarters and drearier costumes than fellow bachelorette guests, but her cares melt away as she catches the eye of a young footman, and she’s swept into a romantic adventure she could never have imagined.

Will fantasy and reality merge for Jane? A wickedly funny, irreverent comedy, featuring a malapropism-peppered performance by Jennifer Coolidge and an impeccable cast of archetypal characters, Austenland hits all the right notes of the Regency era and our curious infatuation with it
Director: Jerusha Hess
Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale
Principal Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis

Before Midnight-the end of a trilogy, my mom saw it, and had not even see the other 2 and loved it, so I am sure I would have!
We meet Celine and Jesse nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story.

Director Richard Linklater continues his enchanting tale of a chance meeting between two strangers, bringing to it a nuanced perspective only gained by years lived. As it does in each film in the series, life carries with it new responsibilities and attitudes, forcing the two dreamers to reassess what they want next. Bolstered by an increasingly refined onscreen chemistry between lead actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight is a fitting third chapter in one of the great love stories of American independent cinema.
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater
Principal Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, Ariane Labed, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

Don Jon’s Addiction-heard this was great and that seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt would have been cool!  Yes, there was a lot of sex in it, so my mother said she was uncomfortable, but would still like to see it.
Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography.Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.

Crass, funny, and startlingly sincere, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s
 Don Jon’s Addiction resonates with its utterly authentic realization of people and place, transcending New Jersey stereotypes by infusing its characters with tantalizing complexities. Gordon-Levitt’s chemistry with costars Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore ignites the screen with heat and emotion. With abundant charm and formidable wit, Don Jon’s Addiction marks the evolution of an incredibly talented actor into a truly gifted writer/director
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Principal Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown

Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes-wanted to see this, but it was at 8:30 one day and that was too early for me, still interested!
Emanuel, an acerbic but sensitive teen, lives with her father and stepmother. She’s on the verge of another birthday—a day she has never cared for since her mother died giving birth to her—when the mysterious Linda, a young and hip mother, moves in next door. Intrigued by Linda’s striking resemblance to her late mother, Emanuel begins to babysit for Linda’s newborn daughter. As Emanuel and Linda spend more time together, they develop a bond that becomes deeply entwined in a surprising secret Linda harbors.

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes is a hyperstylized and often darkly humorous film that vacillates between surrealism and realism while it incorporates suspenseful drama. Writer/director Francesca Gregorini’s tightly constructed script fuses pain with poetry and explores the complexity of being complicit in the lives of our loved ones. In a breakout performance, Kaya Scodelario is the heart of the film as Emanuel, who must take a courageous journey to enter her dream and help extract Linda from hers
Director: Francesca Gregorini
Screenwriter: Francesca Gregorini
Principal Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O'Connor, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard

Hell Baby-nephew saw this and he loved it (he missed “the Way WAY back” which was my favorite) he said it was so funny, a lot of great comedians in it.
Expectant couple Jack and Vanessa move into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans—a house with a deadly demonic curse. When things soon spiral out of control, it’ll take the help of Vanessa’s Wiccan sister, a nosey “neighbor” who lives in their crawl space, two local detectives, and a pair of elite Vatican exorcists to save them—or is it already too late?

Revered as two of the minds behind the hilarious sketch television shows Reno 911!, The State, and Viva Variety and the screenwriters of big-budget comedies like the Night at the Museum films, comedians Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant finally unleash their codirectorial debut. Featuring a seasoned comedic ensemble, including scene stealers Leslie Bibb and Keegan Michael Key, this raucous horror spoof sics the devilish humor of its creators on the most sacred of genre conventions: the haunted house, an exorcism, and one pissy demon child
Directors: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Screenwriters: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Principal Cast: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel

jOBS-my parents saw this, my daughter wanted to go ONLY to see Ashton Kutcher at the first screening, I am sure this will make it to the theaters,
In 1976, college dropout Steve Jobs heralded a revolution within the confines of his parents’ garage. Jobs, along with friend and technical wizard Steve Wozniak, unleashed the “homebrew” Apple 1 personal computer kit onto an unsuspecting public, producing 200 units by hand and shipping each one themselves (monitor and keyboard not included). Apple Inc. was born, and the world would never be the same. Today hundreds of millions of users around the world remain tethered to the remarkable products that Jobs championed—his impact on the world of technology was undoubtedly colossal, but his effect on our culture was simply immeasurable.

Although the road that Jobs traveled to become CEO of the company he cofounded was a tumultuous one, director Joshua Michael Stern unfurls his story with relative ease, and Ashton Kutcher’s highly nuanced portrayal of the technology icon adroitly captures the essence of a man who changed the way we live
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Screenwriter: Matt Whiteley
Principal Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J. K. Simmons, Matthew Modine

Lasting- Spanish/Polish with English subtitles- we almost went to see this, because it was an award winner, but ended up seeing the winning documentary instead, so it has piqued my interest!
Michał and Karina fall head over heels in love during their summer holiday in Spain. Under the warm sun-soaked vineyards in the ecstasy of their thrilling new romance, everything feels carefree and innocent. But when Michał has a threatening encounter with an unsavory property owner while scuba diving, an impulsive act leads to a devastating turn.

Michał covers up what happened and suddenly returns to Poland without telling Karina the truth. Soon Karina also has something she keeps from Michał. With their secrets looming over them, their once-unbridled affection begins slipping through their hands, and their bright, innocent faces turn dark with worry.

With an immersive touch, Jacek Borcuch effortlessly captures the couple’s youthful spirit and rapture, amplifying the weight of the emotionally sobering drama that ensues. Marking a welcome return to the Sundance Film Festival (All That I Love screened in 2010), Lastingis an exploration of that rare species of love that can endure life’s pitfalls, and a terrifying reminder that one fateful minute can upend everything
Director: Jacek Borcuch
Screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch
Principal Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Ángela Molina
Also won an award for the 2013 festival
Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic

Life According to Sam-documentary- My parents saw this, and a woman I sat next to during Fruitvale-the woman thought this should have won the documentary prize!  Sounds amazing!
Progeria is an extremely rare and fatal disease, exemplified by accelerated aging in the children who are afflicted by it. There is no treatment. There is no cure. Enter Doctors Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns. When their son, Sam, was diagnosed with progeria at age two, the prognosis was grim—the couple were simply told to enjoy the few years they had left with their only son—but they weren’t willing to give up that easily. They spearheaded a campaign to save Sam and the other children in the world who share this devastating illness. In a little more than a decade, their extraordinary advances have led not only to identifying the gene that causes progeria and testing the first experimental drug to treat it but also to the amazing discovery that it is linked to the aging process in all of us.

With Life According to Sam, directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine return to the Sundance Film Festival (War Dance won the Documentary Directing Award in 2007) with a deeply touching account of one family’s courageous fight, reminding us to make the most of our lives in the time we are given.
Directors: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine

Lovelace my mom saw this and my kids (it was a midnight movie that night, they were on their 6th movie, I needed to get to bed!) and everyone said it was an excellent story and that Amanda Seyfried was amazing….
In 1972—long before the Internet porn explosion of today—Deep Throat became a cultural phenomenon. As the first pornographic feature film to be embraced by mainstream audiences, Deep Throat took a multitude of risks: it boasted a plot, humor, and an unknown and unlikely star named Linda Lovelace.

Lovelace tells the story behind the phenomenon. Fleeing her strict religious family, Linda Boreman falls for charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor, who launches her pornography career. Reborn as “Linda Lovelace,” the charming girl next door skyrockets to international sensation with her uncanny capacity for fellatio. Fully inhabiting this new identity, Linda becomes a spokesperson for sexual freedom and hedonism. But six years later, she reveals a far more sinister narrative—the dark secrets of her own life story.

Lovelace sizzles with honest, daring performances by Amanda Seyfried as Linda and Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck. As they demonstrated with their previous feature, 2010’s HOWL,filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Academy Award–winning masters of the documentary form, have become experts at using true stories to make magical fiction
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Screenwriter: Andy Bellin
Costumes: Karyn Wagner
Principal Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone
Metro Manilla-My mom said this was excellent, it has subtitles too, so you have to be in the mood to “read” a movie---won an award for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic

Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.

Director Sean Ellis’s return (The Broken premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival) vividly captures the desperation of life amongst the squalid Manila slums, then ratchets up the tension, creating an intense thriller with a poignant humanity and palpable dramatic stakes. In the role of Oscar, Jake Macapagal brings emotional depth to the wrenching choices he must make to sustain his family
Director: Sean Ellis
Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers
Principal Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega

Sound City-how can you NOT love Dave Grohl?? Wanted to see him!
Multitalented musician Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana fronts a mission to resurrect the rapidly vanishing human touch behind the creation of music. When Sound City, a fabled recording studio, opened in 1969, it boasted a one-of-a kind recording console. Tucked away behind train tracks and dilapidated warehouses in the sunburnt SanFernando Valley, Sound City became rock ’n’ roll hallowed ground where music’s megastars captured their magic on analog tape for three decades. 

The advent of the digital age ultimately sounded the death knell of Sound City. Grohl cobbles together a troupe of iconic musicians and singers who once called the studio home. Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield, and Paul McCartney are just some of the legends who jam with Grohl and create a brand-new album on that revered soundboard. Fasten your seat belts.
 Sound City, Grohl’s outstanding filmmaking debut, rocks the silver screen, not only unearthing music history but making it as well
Director: Dave Grohl
Screenwriter: Mark Monroe

Stoker-my nephew wanted to see this one so badly, but it wasn’t playing when we were there, he said this director is awesome!
After India’s father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evelyn. Soon after his arrival, India begins to suspect this mysterious, charming man has disturbing ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, the friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Visionary filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, whose Old Boy and Three…Extremes both played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, returns with another macabre story, one that marks his first venture into English-language cinema. Armed with an inspired script, a world-class cast, and a wickedly playful nature, he subverts audience expectations by employing delightful visual trickery and placing a magnet over the moral compass of the film, giving complex and sympathetic motivations for the characters’ violent actions. Featuring a gasp-inducing performance from Nicole Kidman, Stoker is a haunting, Hitchcockian tale as unsettling as it is stunning.
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Screenwriter: Wentworth Miller
Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

A Teacher- my parents saw this and recommended it.
Diana, a young, attractive teacher at a suburban Texas high school, is well-liked by her students and colleagues. Her life seems to be following the status quo, but in reality she’s having a secret affair with her student Eric. She confides in no one but him, reveling in the teenage terrain of sexting and backseat quickies. Even when the risk of discovery looms over their relationship, her investment in the fantasy remains stronger than reality. Unable to control herself, she heads down a reckless path of self-destruction.

The subject of a teacher-student affair may be tabloid fodder, but writer/director Hannah Fidell resists sensationalism or the temptation to pathologize her protagonist. At its core, Diana’s affair with her student is the manifestation of her avoidance of responsibility, and the film lets us in on her internal struggle. With bold vision, Fidell uses highly controlled pacing, silky camera movements, and a tense percussive sound aesthetic to free her narrative from the confines of convention, while a fascinating performance by Lindsay Burdge transports us into Diana’s head space, where her unabated obsession lives
Director: Hannah Fidell
Screenwriter: Hannah Fidell
Principal Cast: Lindsay Burdge, Will Brittain, Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, Julie Phillips, Chris Doubek

Twenty Feet from Stardom-heard so many great things about this film, and that the women in it played a concert in Park City, was so sorry I couldn’t see it.
What would a pop song be without the riffs, refrains, and harmonies of its backup vocalists? Although these singers are usually relegated to the margins, and few, if any, become household names, their work has defined countless songs that remain in our hearts and collective consciousness. Twenty Feet from Stardom juxtaposes interviews with industry legends (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and others) and the relative unknowns who support them like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill as they illuminate the art of melding their own distinct voices with lead vocals and reveal their desires for careers as solo artists.

Twenty Feet from Stardom traces the backup singers’ history—from those Phil Spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired British Explosion acts (Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today. Filmmaker Morgan Neville’s unprecedented look at the moving personal journeys of these normally uncelebrated artists pays tribute to their indelible role in popular music
Director: Morgan Neville

Upstream Color-we almost saw this one too, but ended up seeing Prince Avalanche, now I need to see it to see how badly we messed up.
Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

Shane Carruth’s sensuously directed and much anticipated sophomore effort (his feature debut, Primer, won the Sundance Film Festival 2004 Grand Jury Prize) is a truly remarkable film that lies beyond the power of language to communicate while it delivers a cohesive sensory experience. With its muscular cinematic language rooted in the powerful yearnings felt before words can be formed, Upstream Color is an entirely original, mythic, romantic thriller that goes in search of truths that lie just beyond our reach.
Director: Shane Carruth
Screenwriter: Shane Carruth
Principal Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
Also won an award for the 2013 festival

U. S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design

Shane Carruth & Johnny Marshall, Upstream Color

Very Good Girls—missed this one, not playing while we were there
Best friends—introspective Lilly and free-spirited Gerry—spend their last summer at home in New York City before parting ways for college. The girls meet Brooklyn boy David, whom they both fall for, and Lilly soon begins a secret relationship with him. As Lilly’s home life falls apart after she discovers her father’s affair and Gerry becomes more obsessed with David, Lilly seeks solace in her first romance. However, a tragedy in Gerry’s family catapults Lilly back into reality, and she must face the consequences of her actions.

Very Good Girls is a refreshing representation of contemplative, smart, and curious teenage girls, who experience their everyday lives with a sophistication and grace that most of their peers lack. Naomi Foner’s intimate story emanates a raw nostalgia for that painful time when we waver precariously between adolescence and young adulthood
Director: Naomi Foner
Screenwriter: Naomi Foner
Principal Cast: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Boyd Holbrook, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin

Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) the woman I sat next to on the plane home said this was her VERY favorite film!  Now very intrigued.
Persian with English subtitles
It’s snowing in Kabul, and gregarious waiter Mustafa charms a pretty student named Wajma. The pair begin a clandestine relationship—they’re playful and passionate but ever mindful of the societal rules they are breaking. After Wajma discovers she is pregnant, her certainty that Mustafa will marry her falters, and word of their dalliance gets out. Her father must decide between his culturally held right to uphold family honor and his devotion to his daughter.

Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) offers us a more complex and nuanced portrait of contemporary dating and the role of women in middle-class Afghanistan than we’ve been permitted to see before onscreen. Wajma Bahar’s dynamic intensity in the title role is matched by the powerful work of Hadji Gul as her foreboding but conflicted father. Beginning his story as an intimate romance, filmmaker Barmak Akram shifts the focus to the volatility in Wajma’s home after her secret is divulged, ultimately revealing an Afghan family just as capable of cruelty—and forgiveness—as any in the world
Director: Barmak Akram
Screenwriter: Barmak Akram
Principal Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Habibi, Hadji Gul, Breshna Bahar
And won an award at the festival!
Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic