January 2016 - Posts

Review: 'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 5 Spills Blood On The Linen

PREVIOUSLY: Review: 'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 4 Brings Back Another Familiar Face Upstairs Just like last week, the crux of this episode takes place around the dining table. Violet pulls out all the stops to thwart the hospital takeover, especially when Dr. Clarkson defects to the opposing camp. She invites (read: blackmails) the Minister of Health to come to dinner where she can make her case, and the Minister turns out to be future Hitler-appeaser Neville Chamberlain who, in a blunt piece of historical characterization, shrinks away from every possible confrontation. When asked if he enjoys a good fight, Chamberlain literally says, "I'm not sure I do." Subtle. Downstairs It's Baxter's day in court to testify against her old abuser Mr. Coyle, and Molesley goes with her because that's what Molesley does. And once again, the show lets a character off the hook, by having Coyle change his plea off-camera. Baxter won't have to testify after all, and even the show...
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Magnolia Pictures and HBO Pick Up Sundance Doc 'Tickled'

One of the last purchases to come out of Park City, David Farrier and Dylan Reeve's documentary "Tickled" has been acquired by Magnolia Pictures and HBO. The former will handle both North American and international distribution rights, excluding New Zealand and Australia, while the latter has picked up U.S. television rights. The film premiered in Sundance's World Documentary section and will next screen at the Berlin International Film Festival. READ MORE: Sundance: Documentary Gets a Multi-Million Dollar Boost From Submarine and Grosvenor Park The doc follows Farrier, a TV and radio personality who specializes in the weird, as he discovers the sport of "competitive endurance tickling." The movie was produced by Carthew Nea and financed by the New Zealand Film Commission and MPI. Documentary seller Submarine negotiated the HBO and Magnolia deals.
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All of the Winners of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Updating Live

This year's Sundance Film Festival caps off this evening with the fest's annual awards show, held at Park City, Utah's own Basin Recreation Field House. The ceremony kicks off at 7:00PM MT, featuring host (and Sundance premiere "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" director) Taika Waititi shepherding along the festivities in surely amusing fashion. Featuring awards judged by six different juries, the ceremony is always a lively, fun and forward-thinking end to the festival. Follow along as we update the list of winners live, and even check out the show below, using Sundance's own live-stream. Check out the full list of winners below: READ MORE: The 2016 Indiewire Sundance Bible: All the Reviews, Interviews and News Posted During The Festival U.S. Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:  U.S. Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:  World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:  World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:  U.S. Dramatic Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Audience...
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Sundance Review: 'Dr. Strangelove' Meets Christopher Guest in Moon Conspiracy Tale 'Operation Avalanche'

Matt Johnson's 2013 debut "The Dirties" boldly applied the overused found-footage approach to tell the story of a high school shooter. By those standards, his followup "Operation Avalanche" has more traditional aims, but it nevertheless confirms Johnson's ability to craft surprisingly engaging material out of an overused device. READ MORE: Review: High School Shootings In Kevin Smith-Released 'The Dirties' Put the Bully Problem In a Unique Spotlight Relying on a mashup of archival footage and staged bits, "Operation Avalanche" is a lively action-comedy period piece about a pair of bumbling would-be filmmakers hired by the CIA to fake the moon landing in the late sixties. Despite the inherent silliness of that premise, Johnson captures a unique climate of Cold War era paranoia while keeping the material fast and fun. As with "The Dirties," the new movie finds Johnson casting himself in the lead role and using his real name. Along with...
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Sundance: Amazon Studios Sundance Institute Producers Awards Honor 'Morris From America' Duo

READ MORE: Sundance Review: 'Morris From America' Puts a Fresh Spin on Familiar Ingredients The 2016 recipients of the Amazon Studios Sundance Institute Producers Awards have been announced as Sara Murphy and Adele Romanski, producers of "Morris From America" and Julie Goldman, executive producer of both "Weiner" and "Life, Animated." As part of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, these awards grant money to emerging producers of a film at the Sundance Film Festival. Per their official aims, "the award recognizes bold vision and a commitment to continuing work as a creative producer in the independent space." Past recipients of the award include Stephanie Langhoff ("The Bronze"), Elisabeth Holm ("Obvious Child"), James Johnston & Toby Halbrooks ("Ain’t Them Bodies Saints") and Josh Penn & Dan Janvey ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"). Goldman is an Emmy Award-winning producer and...
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Sundance Review: 'Morris From America' Puts a Fresh Spin on Familiar Ingredients

The story of a 13-year-old boy who moves to a new neighborhood and struggles to find his place, "Morris From America" hails from a familiar playbook. But the specifics of that scenario — Morris (extraordinary newcomer Markees Christmas) is African American, and he's living in Heidelberg, Germany — freshen up the formula. The dissonance of character and place in writer-director Chad Hartigan's followup to 2013's similarly low key "This is Martin Bonner" gives this otherwise straightforward, well-acted coming-of-age tale an added cultural weight. It's both sweetly understated and progressive. READ MORE: The 2016 Indiewire Sundance Bible: All the Reviews, Interviews and News Posted During The Festival From the moment Morris is seen in the opening shot, bobbing his head to a hip hop beat, Hartigan makes it clear whose perspective the movie will adopt. Sent to his room by his father Curtis (Craig Robinson, in his first genuine dramatic turn) for not liking...
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Sundance: Why Newly-Minted Director Clea DuVall Finally Went Behind the Camera for 'The Intervention'

READ MORE: Paramount Lands Clea DuVall's Sundance Directorial Debut 'The Intervention' "I get a lot of 'you-look-familiars,'" Clea DuVall explains when asked if the long-time actress is often recognized on the street. Maybe that will change after her charming Sundance premiere, "The Intervention," starts rolling out on VOD, thanks to a freshly signed deal with Paramount Home Media. The film is DuVall's debut as a filmmaker, and she serves as writer, director, executive producer and star on the funny feature, which joins some of DuVall's real-life best pals (including Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne) with some newfound friends (like Vincent Piazza and Cobie Smulders) and indie stalwarts (Jason Ritter, Alia Shawkat, Ben Schwartz) for what's been compared to "The Big Chill" for a new generation. Led by Lynskey's Annie, "The Intervention" revolves around a group of long-time friends who attempt to stage a "relationship...
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Sundance: How 'Cameraperson' Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson Found Herself in Her Own Documentary

READ MORE: Sundance Review: ‘Cameraperson' is a Transcendent Documentary Experience Lauded cinematographer Kirsten Johnson has worked on some incredible films during the course of her 25-year-long career, from "Citizenfour" to "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," "Derrida" to "Lioness," "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" to "The Invisible War," and many more in between, but she's long rejected the idea of putting her own life on the big screen. Until, that is, she decided to make "Cameraperson," a bold documentary that functions as both an overview of Johnson's professional life and a probing look inside her own personal experiences. Partially a cinematic collage of some of Johnson's most essential pieces of work, the film uses both old and new material to provide a touching and complex look at the person behind the camera, before finally pulling her clearly into frame. Indiewire sat down with Johnson at the festival...
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Sundance Documentaries Climb The Mountain (Sometimes Literally)

By its very nature, documentary filmmaking is tricky business. Directors are dependent on their subjects, they can't control those subjects, chances are they aren't being paid a living wage to follow around said subjects and, at the end of shooting, they have tens (sometimes hundreds) hours of footage and no script to guide them in editing a cohesive narrative about their subjects. Yet, some of the most exciting and cinematic storytelling at this year's Sundance is coming from the nonficiton categories, so we asked the documentarians in Park City how they overcame the biggest challenges they faced in making these remarkable films. READ MORE: Sundance Review: ‘Cameraperson' is a Transcendent Documentary Experience "My subject, a 13-year-old nomad girl, lives in the Altai Mountains of North West Mongolia, which is the most remote corner of the least populated country on Earth. At most my team numbered five people, but we still wanted to give the documentary a big, cinematic...
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Sundance Review: 'Audrie & Daisy' Has a Powerful Hook, But It's Missing Something

READ MORE: The 2016 Indiewire Sundance Bible: All the Reviews, Interviews and News Posted During The Festival In 2012, two different girls from two different towns on two different ends of the country were sexually assaulted by boys they thought were their friends. On a cold January night in Missouri, Daisy Coleman left her home to hang out with some friends of her older brother, one of whom raped her and eventually dumped her in her own icy front yard. Later in the year, Audrie Pott was assaulted at a party by two fellow students she considered to be pals. Both Daisy and Audrie pursued criminal charges against their assailants, and both girls were taunted online for what happened to them, thanks to the spread and prevalence of social media in their respective high schools. That's where the big similarities stop. In their "Audrie & Daisy," filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk attempt to cobble together the unsettling parallels between Audrie and Daisy's cases to...
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Sundance Review: Steve Gleason Goes From NFL Star to ALS Survivor in Tearjerker Documentary

READ MORE: Amazon and Open Road Team Up for Acclaimed Sundance Doc 'Gleason' The story of Steve Gleason, the former NFL star now paralyzed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, has a built-in emotional hook. "Gleason," Clay Tweel's documentary on the former athlete's struggles, doesn't try anything fancy to tap into the material's inherent tearjerker potential. But it's the subject who does the heavy lifting in this earnest portrait built around Gleason's video diary to his unborn son. While fairly straightforward in its attempts to galvanize viewers around efforts to combat the disease, "Gleason" hits those familiar marks with superb aim. Structured chronologically starting with Gleason's diagnosis, the movie quickly establishes his track record. Famous for a blocked punt during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints, Gleason at first copes with the news that he'll lose all motor abilities in a matter of years in privacy. Once he learns that his wife Michel is...
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Sony Pictures Classics Acquires John Krasinski's Sundance Drama 'The Hollars'

The final wave of Sundance acquisitions continues as Sony Pictures Classics picks up distribution rights in the U.S. and Asia to John Krasinski’s family drama "The Hollars." The film is Krasinski's second feature after 2009's "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men." Jim C. Strouse, the writer-director of "People Places Things," wrote the screenplay. READ MORE: Sundance: Why 'The Hollars' Director and Star John Krasinski Doesn't Mind If You Call His Film 'Sundance-y' The official synopsis reads: "The film follows John Hollar (Krasinski), a struggling NYC artist who is forced to navigate the small middle-American town he left behind when news of his mother’s illness brings him home. Back in the house he grew up in, John is immediately swept up in the problems of his dysfunctional family, high school rival, and an over-eager ex-girlfriend as he faces impending fatherhood with his girlfriend in New York." The movie's all-star ensemble includes...
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Universal Lands Michael Shannon's Sundance Thriller 'Frank & Lola'

Universal has picked up a majority of worldwide distribution rights for Matthew M. Ross' romantic thriller "Frank & Lola," starring Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots. The movie, produced by Killer Films, had its world premiere earlier this week at Sundance. READ MORE: Watch: Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots are Sundance's Most Intense Couple in 'Frank & Lola' Clip The official synopsis reads: "Frank is a brooding, staunch Las Vegas chef who always focused his energy into his culinary talents — until he meets Lola, a young and beautiful enigma. Together, Frank and Lola build an intense relationship that saves each other from their mutual despair. Cracks begin to show after Lola suddenly cheats on Frank, which leads to Frank’s evolving mistrust of Lola and a growing obsession with an imposing man from her past. As Frank is given the chance to cook for a famed Parisian restaurateur, he is overcome by extreme thoughts of betrayal, causing him to seek...
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Netflix and Music Box Films Acquire Norman Lear Sundance Doc 'Just Another Version of You'

WATCH: At Sundance, Norman Lear and Lena Dunham Talk Political Correctness, Comedy, and Flushing Toilets Netflix and Music Box Films have teamed up to acquire Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You," the well-reviewed documentary about the legendary television producer. The film world premiered on opening night of the Sundance Film Festival just over a week ago. PBS & American Masters Pictures sold theatrical rights to the film to Music Box, while Netflix will handle the streaming release. The official synopsis reads: "'Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You' is chronicles Mr. Lear’s life, work, and achievements; at 93, Mr. Lear is as vital and engaged as he ever was. Cinéma vérité documentarians Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing seize the opportunity to fashion a dynamic portrait that matches the spirit of their subject. Breaking down the fourth wall to create an evocative collage where past and...
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'Swiss Army Man' and Daniel Radcliffe's Farting Corpse Head to A24

No Sundance movie premiered to as much love-it-or-hate-it buzz than Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's "Swiss Army Man." While some people utterly despised the film and walked out of its screenings, others found much to praise, and the movie has since grown into some kind of instant cult film over the past week. Fortunately, audiences will eventually get to see what the fuss is about as A24 has picked up U.S. distribution rights. READ MORE: Sundance Review: Daniel Radcliffe's Farts Tell Us Something Profound About This Year's Festival The survival indie stars a bearded Paul Dano as Hank. As he prepares to commit suicide on a deserted island, Hank discovers a corpse on the shore (Daniel Radcliffe) and uses it as a survival resource after it comes to life; this includes using the farting corpse's body as a jet ski and its penis as a compass. No wonder the movie divided critics so passionately. In his A- review of the film, Indiewire's Deputy Editor and...
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