By Matt Singer | Criticwire January 19, 2013 at 12:14PM
The Sundance Review Report rounds up each day's notable premieres, along with a sampling of their reviews and tweets from Park City, Utah. Here's the reaction to four of Friday's films:
Category: U.S. Dramatic
Director: Jerusha Hess
Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King
Synopsis: "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."
"A witty and hilarious directing debut."
"Finds new ways to exploit the Mr. Darcy archetype."
"'Austenland' as a movie is great... well, up until Jane gets to Austenland -- which, unfortunately, is 80 percent of the movie."
"A crowd-pleaser with a smart script and a cast that appears to be having a jolly ol' time."
"I expect it to play well only to a small base of chick-lit lovers and casual Austen fans. I’d give it maybe 2.5 stars."
"'Austenland' was a fun, well-received romantic comedy set in the world of "Pride and Prejudice." My girlfriend loved it #Sundance"
"Liked 'Austenland.' Has some fun moments with a solid 3rd act and great ending credits. Will get picked up. #Sundance13"
"'Austenland' has a great cast & plenty of yuks, but musical montage alone not enough to develop main char & her troubles with love. #Sundance"
"'Austenland' (C) Cute comedy should appeal to Austen fanatics but it feels a little undercooked. Keri Russell sadly underutilized. #Sundance"
"Imagine 'Westworld' transposed to 19th century England, and you have the tone-deaf, insufferable 'Austenland.' Bad start to #Sundance"
"Escape From Tomorrow"
Director: Randy Moore
Starring: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady
Synopsis: "Jim White is an average American family man, mostly content to exist within his humdrum reality. At the tail end of a theme park vacation with his loving wife and two beautiful children, he is awakened by an unsettling phone call from his boss, who tells him that he has lost his job. Unwilling to disturb their sabbatical, Jim holds off on breaking the news to his family so they can enjoy their last day at the idyllic and beloved tourist destination. In desperate need of a distraction, he finds one amidst the long lines at the park -- two attractive and fun-loving teenage girls. In his fractured state, Jim falls obsessively in love, making any excuse he can to follow them everywhere. Along the way, his paranoid psyche spirals even further downward, and the fine line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred."
"It is not possible that this film exists. It is not possible that they shot long scripted sequences on the actual rides. It is not possible that I just saw a film in which it is suggested and then shown that the various Disney princesses all work as high-priced hookers who sell their wares to wealthy Asian businessmen. It simply cannot be true."
"Has the potential to accrue major cult value."
"The movie seems to be denouncing a culture-of-distraction in a way that might call to mind 'Infinite Jest.'"
"Unlike anything you’ve seen before and will probably be unlike anything you see again."
"Moore's work of mad obsession turns Disney's small world into a strange one, and while you have to laud his passion, you have to question his practicality."
"'Escape from Tomorrow' insane on so many levels. Never seen anything like it. Wally World has nothing on the real thing. #Sundance13"
"#sundance re 'Escape From Tomorrow'... Disney's not gonna like this! Mwahahaha (that's my evil laugh)"
"'Escape from Tomorrow:' an honest-to-God brain-melter; Polanski's idea of the family vacation from Hell. Your mileage may vary. #Sundance"
"'Escape from Tomorrow,' a b+w surrealist movie shot guerilla-style at Disney parks, may be one of the strangest films ever to play #Sundance."
"Kill Your Darlings"
Category: U.S. Dramatic
Director: John Krokidas
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen
Synopsis: "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."
"Director John Krokidas (co-writing with Austin Bunn) tell the tale with great care and affection, but they stumble by assuming we know enough about these Beat Generation icons that we'll fill in the gaps of character development."
"Allen Ginsberg …has come of age by the end of the movie. And so, Daniel Radcliffe, have you."
"Well shot and well-made, 'Kill Your Darlings' is a very competently constructed effort on a whole, but there’s an emptiness and familiarity at its core that it cannot transcend."
"Even if it doesn't fully connect the dramatic dots, the film is impressively realized on a scene-by-scene basis."
"If Radcliffe's performance puts skeptics to rest, DeHaan's proves he's at the top of Hollywood's young actor's pack."
"'Kill Your Darlings' is terrific: Unhinged as it catches fire, taut as it ratchets suspense. Spit-take one-liners, great perfs across board."
"'Kill Your Darlings' was really good. Best part was fantastic performances from entire cast. Will def get sold (if it hasn't already)"
"Just saw 'Kill Your Darlings.' @danedehaan is going to be a huge star. And Dan Radcliffe growing a lot post-Potter. #Sundance"
"'Kill Your Darlings' is electrified with energy, emotionally charged and has one hell of a performance from @DaneDeHaan."
"'Kill Your Darlings' - a compelling look at the baby Beats with standout perfs by Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan. #Sundance"
"Don Jon's Addiction"
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown
Synopsis: "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."
"Both as a director and actor, Gordon-Levitt is switched on all the time, offering little shading or nuance."
"A far gutsier film might have explored what it was like for a character who resembles Gordon-Levitt to be addicted to porn. But then Gordon-Levitt would have to take his material a little more seriously instead of just going for cheap laughs."
"Gordon-Levitt’s usual charm goes a long way toward helping us warm up to a one-dimensional lout who eventually becomes less self-centred."
"An endearingly masturbatory look at how a culture of objectification erodes our capacity for intimacy."
"A charming and impressive directorial debut."
"'Don Jon's Addiction' was a brilliant examination of sexual relationships and pornography. Still don't know how it's going to avoid NC-17"
"'Don Jon's Addiction' (D): Saturday Night Feeble."
"'Don Jon's Addiction' bulks up the body and career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What a fantastic directorial debut from the Boy Wonder. #Sundance"
"Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s 'Don Jon’s Addiction' is a decent character-growth piece. It could almost be a play. I mean that as a compliment."
"'Don Jon's Addiction' = New Jersey's version of 'Silver Linings Playbook.' Well done @hitRECordJoe. #Sundance"