Thursday, November 29, 2012

2013 Sundance - A Very Different Preview - Part 2

Continues from Part 1. If the news in the previous post weren't enough surprising for you, then let's continue exploring other films that have unusual stories centered in women.

Jill Soloway

Jill Soloway is not really known to me even when have seen most of the TV shows she has written for (Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy, United States of Tara, Dirty Sexy Money); then just learned that she was behind the "lesbian stories" told in some of those shows but most interesting is to find that her previous work is Valencia (aka Valencia: The Movie/s) a collaborative film project by twenty one queer filmmakers each shooting 5-7 minute short based on a chapter from the underground classic memoir into a kaleidoscopic vision of San Francisco's Mission District in the early 90's during the rise of a punk lesbian diaspora told through the experiences of Michelle, a single rootless twenty-something searching for sex and love, drugs and adventure. If you wish to read more about this movie go here.

But going back to Sundance that will screen Jill Soloway's debut feature film, Afternoon Delight, which she directed and wrote the script, and considering everything I learned today about her, have to admit that became very interested in her film even do there is not much info about it in the net but check the fest synopsis.

In this sexy, dark comedy, a lost L.A. housewife puts her idyllic hipster life in jeopardy when she tries to rescue a stripper by taking her in as a live-in nanny. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.

The housewife is played by Kathryn Hahn and from photo dare to deduce that the stripper is played by Juno Temple. I just hope that as much as Soloway has contributed to lesbian stories in television, she also contributes with a lesbian-interest storyline in this film. But will not be until more information becomes available that we will be able to find what story is really about.

Still, based on what I saw in her short Una Hora Por Favora I like her filmmaking style even do her humor is not exactly the kind of humor I enjoy; but I'm interested in watching this film.

Lynn Shelton

After watching Your Sister's Sister I became really interested in the work of Lynn Shelton and her new film Touchy Feely also in US Dramatic competition seems could be interesting especially because has Rosemarie Dewitt playing the leading role as a massage therapist who suddenly finds the human body repulsive. Check the synopsis from the fest.

A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother's foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch.”

The cast includes Ellen Page, an actress that I like but suddenly disappeared into low-profile roles and/or movies and just hope she shines again in this indie movie which was the milieu that made her well-known. I'm interested in finding what Shelton will give us in this movie that know probably will surprise me once again.

Shelton has been called Sundance's "L'enfant chéri" as her recent films have been showcased at Sundance, Humpday in 2009 and Your Sister's Sister in 2012; her newest is just following what it seems has become a tradition due to the quality of her films.

Liz W. Garcia

Not familiar with Garcia's work even do have seen some of the TV shows she has written for, like Dawson's Creek and Cold Case. But her film The Lifeguard also in the US Dramatic competition seems could have an interesting story. Check the synopsis from fest.

A former valedictorian quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home in Connecticut. She gets work as a lifeguard and starts a dangerous relationship with a troubled teenager.

Another film that has not much information in the net but here is a still from the film where Kristen Bell has the lead role.

Perhaps due to the casting and from the eight female directors in the US Dramatic competition, this is the film that I'm interested less in watching, but have to wait for info to become available to determine if film is interesting or not.

Lake Bell

I'm familiar with Lake Bell as an actress as has many big and small screen supporting roles but have no idea what a film directed and written by her could be like, especially when is her debut feature film, is an indie comedy plus also she is performing in what could be her first leading role. Not really interested but check the fest synopsis, cast and film still

In a World... An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation. Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed.

Maybe when we learn more about Bell's film I could be more interested in watching.

Jerusha Hess

Known as the half of the Jared and Jerusha Hess husband and wife filmmaking team behind movies like Napoleon Dynamite or Nacho Libre, Jerusha jumps to direct her first film Austenland based on the novel by Shannon Hale with a script co written by Hess and Hale. Check the synopsis from fest plus the cast.

Thirtysomething, single Jane is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. On a trip to an English resort, her fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman become more real than she ever imagined. Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis.

Perhaps the better known person from those involved in film is none other than Stephenie Meyer, which is one of the film producers. Not proud of what I'm about to say but I know will watch this USA and UK production as I see everything where Keri Russell is in, besides story could be "sweet" and entertaining.

I have the feeling that this unprecedented milestone that Sundance Film Festival has achieved is more than remarkable for being 50-50, have the work of some known female directors and most of all is an amazing moment for openly lesbian filmmakers, lesbian-interest audiences and the community in general as not often have something to celebrate, much less in cinema related events.

From the other six male directed films in the US Dramatic competition only one more has what seems is a women-centered story.

Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage. Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.

In the end there are 9 out of the 16 stories told about women, which is also surely a first. Nevertheless we have to consider that the two movies that had more buzz before the festival announcement are none of the ones in the first post or above. They are films with male directors, both have male-centered stories and are included in the following list that completes the US Dramatic competition lineup.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine.

C.O.G. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kyle Patrick Alvarez) — In the first ever film adaptation of David Sedaris' work, a cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. Cast: Jonathan Groff, Denis O'Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, Troian Bellisario.

Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O'Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.

Kill Your Darlings / U.S.A. (Director: John Krokidas, Screenwriters: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas) — An untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of an entire generation – their Beat revolution. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHann, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen.

The Spectacular Now / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber) — Sutter is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee is the introvert he attempts to "save." As their relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and "saving" and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler.

Toy's House / U.S.A. (Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Screenwriter: Chris Galletta) — Three unhappy teenage boys flee to the wilderness where they build a makeshift house and live off the land as masters of their own destiny. Or at least that’s the plan. Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie.

Upstream Color / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins.

If you can't guess which had buzz before being in the Sundance US Dramatic competition lineup, let me help you. First, the one where you find Rooney Mara and Cassey Affleck; and second, the movie where you find Daniel Radclife and Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, buzz came because the actors and not the directos.

Can't deny that I'm extremely curious to see how the fest will distribute their awards in this competition that has the most unexpected and surprising lineup. But we have to wait about two months as fest runs from January 17 to 27, 2013.

Cheers!!! ... and many congratulations to the honored women filmmakers and the festival programers that made history with this lineup.

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