Sundance Turns the Big 3-0 by Trace De La Torre


Los Angeles — With Sundance Film Fest just hours from lighting up screens — there’s something more perceptibly INDIE about this year’s line-up than usual (hitting the big 3-0 maybe?) — surely adding to all the merrymaking that marks the annual film festivities.

Here’s my Top 10 film picks that will everyone buzzing in 2014:

1.) Cooties

Directors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer
THE BUZZ: Already bought by UPI for territories including the U.K. & Germany — ‘Cooties’ is pegged as the breakout hit of the midnight section — plot centers around a mysterious virus that breaks out in a remote elementary school transforming students into freak zombies…

dear white people  2.) Dear White People  
Director: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Dennis Haysbert
THE BUZZ: A satire centered around four Black students attending an Ivy League College in the midst of a riot caused by a popular ‘African American’ themed party on campus.

3.) Frank     frank
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
THE BUZZ: A quirky bio-pic comedy starring Fassbender as mysterious 80’s pop singer Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom promises to be draw — even if I never heard of him.

4.) God’s Pocket     God's Pocket
Director: John Slattery
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro
THE BUZZ: Wow — WHAT A CAST — based on the 1983 novel by National Book Award Winning author — Pete Dexter — this drama stars Hoffman as a man whose son dies in a supposed accident in the gritty blue-collar neighborhood of ‘God’s Pocket’.

5.) Laggies      Laggies
Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell
THE BUZZ: A bit more commercial fare — this dark Dramedy stars Keira Knightley as a commitment-phobe who runs off to hang out with a 16-year old friend to stall on her decision after her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Sounds quirky.

6.) Life Itself     Life Itself
Director: Steve James
THE BUZZ: A heartrending documentary shot during the last four months of Roger Ebert’s life. Bring the tissue.

Get the 1st look here:

7.) Love Is Strange     Love is Strange
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei
THE BUZZ: Touching Dramedy about the consequences a gay couple — played by Lithgow & Molina — face when they tie the knot after 38 years together. Shot in Manhattan & Brooklyn also stars Marisa Tomei. Bring the tissue, chocolates, and Gummi Bears.

8.) The Skeleton Twins

skeleton twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
THE BUZZ: Estranged sibling twins cheat death on the same day without knowing it — karmic forces bring them back together to do some bitter-sweet soul-searching — especially about their love lives.

Click HERE: to hear filmmaker Craig Johnson talk about his film ‘Skeleton Twins‘ premiering in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

9.) Song One     song one
Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen
THE BUZZ: A touching drama set against the Brooklyn music scene sees Anne Hathaway play a woman who’s been estranged from her family but returns home after her brother suffers an accident that leaves in a coma — grasping to fill in the void left by time — she retraces her brother’s life as an aspiring musician and tracks down his favorite musician to vicariously make up for lost time through music. Definitely bring the tissue.

10.) Wish I Was Here   wish i were here
Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King
THE BUZZ: Braff’s much touted Kickstarter-funded Dramedy sees him playing a middle-aged husband, father, failed thesp, faced with the daunting task of home-schooling his kids.

Sundance Film Fest runs Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah — GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

12 Years a Slave — Irrefutable MUST-SEE Film of the Year by Trace De La Torre

12 NEW YORK 1841  Ever since it first hit screens at Telluride & Toronto Film Fests last month, the hype surrounding 12 Years a Slave reached soaring heights.  Don’t expect the hype to cool anytime soon — it looks poised to run the distance through the awards season — walking away with more than one statue.

BAFTA KILTED STEVE  Directed by illustrious Brit/Dutch London-born visual artist — Sir Steve McQueenKnighted OBE AND CBE by the Queen — winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes 2008 for his film Hunger, about the 1981 Irish hunger strike as a first-time Director — the Turner Prize in 1999 (a prestigious annual prize awarded to British visual artists under the age of 50 representing ALL media) — and a 2009 BAFTA for Hunger amongst many other awards — it’s irrefutable that THIS is the movie you need to see this year.

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt — 12 Years a Slave is a historical drama based on the 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, a free black man living in upstate Saratoga Springs, New York who is lured to Washington, D.C., kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841.

12 CAST STARS                         12 yrs slave poster

The film takes us on an emotional odyssey where Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, and faces cruelty from slave owner baddie played by Michael Fassbender.  The story takes a fateful turn in the 12th year of his capture when Solomon has a chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) that forever alters his life.

12 violence 3                   12 violence 2

SPOILER: McQueen boldly shows us the injustice of slavery by depicting disturbingly violent scenes — such as when Solomon is beaten 15 times with a bat before being whipped by his captors.

Slaves are shown being hanged, murdered, lashed — including by each other, on their masters’ orders.

Poignant line by Solomon: “I don’t want to survive. I want to LIVE.”

12 violence 4          12 violence 5

Reviews so far have been unanimously positive with one astounding message: 12 Years a Slave will be a movie to tango with come award season.  Buzzfeed’s Adam Vary called it “most emotionally powerful film I have seen in a decade,” in his initial reaction. “The Oscar race has been pronounced over, six months before the ceremony itself,” writes the Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard. Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman says it’s a “landmark of cruelty and transcendence.”

12 Years a Slave, adapted by John Ridley from Northup’s memoir, and also starring Quvenzhane’ Wallis from “Beast of the Southern Wild”; Paul Dano; Sarah Paulson;  Alfre Woodard; Paul Giamatti; and Lupita Nyong’o — opens in US theatres on Oct 18th — bring a tissue.

Here’s a look at the bone-chilling Trailer:

Or watch the full movie here:  12 Years a Slave FULL MOVIE link