A Hurried Man’s Guide to Sundance 2014
America’s favorite party-fueled, star-studded movie bender, the Sundance Film Festival, starts its projectors this Thursday in Park City, Utah.
And whether or not you’re planning on packing up your skis and a promising starlet and heading to Redford-ville for the next 10 days, there’s no way you’ll be able to catch all 16 American dramatic premieres—let alone the 16 documentaries, 24 international films and 66 shorts that will be screening over the next 10 days. So we’ve put together a fool-proof primer on what you need to know to pass muster.
Herewith, an annotated guide to the films at Sundance this year:
The Flick: Camp X-Ray The Buzz: Kristen Stewart plays a soldier at Guantanamo Bay, befriends an inmate and puts the final nail in the coffin when it comes to camouflage as a style choice.
The Flick: Cold in July The Buzz: Dexter’s Michael C. Hall kills a home invader, then must deal with the thief’s vengeful father. Described as “muggy, oppressive and hard to shake,” kind of like the weather in New York right now.
The Flick: Dear White People The Buzz: A tongue-in-cheek comedy about racial tension in a prestigious university. Expect spot-on witty satire and white audience members unsure of whether or not their laughter is acceptable.
The Flick: Fishing Without Nets The Buzz: Somali pirating, from the point of view of the Somali pirates. Early reports say Tom Hanks is nowhere to be seen.
The Flick: God’s Pocket The Buzz: John Slattery directs Christina Hendricks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and other big names in a crime drama set in what looks like the same small town that Don Draper grew up in.
The Flick: Happy Christmas The Buzz: A family drama starring Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham; drunkenness, sisterhood ensue.
The Flick: Hellion The Buzz: Aaron Paul, as an adrift father, must set aside differences with his delinquent elder son to regain custody of the younger from Child Protective Services. Heart-wrenching, no doubt.
The Flick: Infinitely Polar Bear The Buzz: Raising two girls while their mother attains her MBA in another city, a bipolar Mark Ruffalo struggles to keep afloat. Uplifting, apparently.
The Flick: Jaime Marks Is Dead The Buzz: A boy befriends the ghost of his mysteriously dead, bullied classmate and falls in love with the girl who discovered the body. Based on the novel Sorrow by Christopher Barzak.
The Flick: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter The Buzz: A Tokyo woman, convinced that a fictional briefcase filled with money awaits her, takes her bunny and heads to Minnesota. Obviously.
The Flick: Life After Beth The Buzz: While mourning the death of his girlfriend, a teenager is relieved to find her revived... sort of. Aubrey Plaza is, unsurprisingly, a hilarious zombie.
The Flick: Low Down The Buzz: The daughter of bebop pianist Joe Albany grows up managing her father’s heroin addiction but must define herself regardless. Starring Elle Fanning, John Hawkes and two-thirds of the Lannister siblings.
The Flick: The Skeleton Twins The Buzz: Led by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, this is actually not a comedy, but about estranged twins repairing their relationship after simultaneously surviving near-death experiences. So, maybe a comedy?
The Flick: The Sleepwalker The Buzz: A psychological thriller involving two sisters in a secluded family estate and some seriously warped versions of reality. That sadsack from Girls plays the boyfriend of one of them.
The Flick: Song One The Buzz: Anne Hathaway tracks down her comatose brother’s favorite Brooklyn musician, falls in love and learns about life. Classic Brooklyn.
The Flick: Whiplash The Buzz: Trained by a prestigious musician with unorthodox methods, a young drummer epically battles his fear of mediocrity. Blood is spilt, somehow.