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The 2013 Sundance Review Report: Day 5

Festivals
by Matt Singer
January 22, 2013 12:17 PM
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"The Way, Way Back."

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 are the reactions from Day 5 at this year's Sundance.

"The Way, Way Back"
Category: Premieres
Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash 
Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph
Synopsis: "'The Way, Way Back' tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local water park where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan -- with encouragement from Owen -- begins to open up and come into his own."

Reviews:

Kyle Smith, New York Post:

"The first movie I’ve seen at the fest (out of 15 or so) that I really loved."

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter:

"Tender and very funny."

Jeff Labrecque, Entertainment Weekly:

"Rockwell... simply pulls off the best 'Meatballs'/'Stripes'/'Ghostbusters'-era Bill Murray since the legend himself."

Gregory Ellwood, HitFix:

"Rash and Faxon don't bring anything new to the coming of age drama genre, but demonstrate they can create a world of interesting and very funny characters."

Peter Debruge, Variety:

"Can be explosively funny in parts, but overall feels pretty familiar."

Tweets:

Amber Wilkinson, Eye For Film:

"'The Way, Way Back' is way, way funny and way, way sweet. A crowd pleaser. #sundance"

Ethan Anderton, First Showing:

"Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell steal 'The Way, Way Back' but Liam James holds his own as the lead with an A-list supporting cast."

Jeff Goldsmith, Backstory:

"One trippy thing about 'The Way Way Back' - It's modern but had an '80s coming of age feel in places: 'The Flamingo Kid,' 'Meatballs,' 'My Bodyguard.'"

Steven Weintraub, Collider:

"'The Way, Way Back' was very funny and the crowd loved it. Sam Rockwell steals every scene he's in by channeling Bill Murray in 'Caddyshack.'"

A.A. Dowd, Time Out Chicago:

"'The Way, Way Back' (Naxon, Rash): Painfully generic coming-of-age comedy. I'll forgive you for this Dean, but it's gonna take time. #sundance"

"The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman"
Category: Premieres
Director: 
Fredrik Bond
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint
Synopsis: "Obeying the last wish of his deceased mother, young American Charlie travels to Eastern Europe with no plans. He lands in a truly unknown place -- wilder, weirder, and more foreign than he could have ever imagined. Committed to spontaneous, explosive, and instinctive acts, Charlie now finds himself pursuing an equally lost soul named Gabi, amysterious Romanian woman unable to shake her dark, violent past."

Reviews:

Alex Billington, First Showing:

"As one would expect from a commercials director, it's a very stylized, very music video-esque film but I don't mind, I loved it."

Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter:

"There’s plenty here to appeal to both the date crowd and crime-movie adherents, as well as fans of the two appealing leads."

Gregory Ellwood, HitFix:

"Change the music cues and this could have been released in the mid-90s. The dance club scenes look like it's 1998 and so do the token Romanian bad guys."

Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist:

"Opens up with an interesting first section, but only backslides deeper and deeper in its overwrought and incoherent second and third acts."

Scott D. Pierce, Salt Lake Tribune:

"Horrifically violent, bloody, loud, confusing, bordering on soft-core porn and completely full of itself. It’s nowhere near as original as it wants to be."

Tweets:

Damon Wise, The Guardian:

"'The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman' is pretty great; fresh spin on the boy meets gangster's moll story #Sundance2013"

Jeff Goldsmith, Backstory:

"Awesome mod-noir in 'The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman!' Cool script, direction, action and man did that score + music kick ass. #fb"

Ethan Anderton, First Showing:

"'Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman' is a wild, alternative fairytale. Flawed, but still enjoyable. A little long though."

Erik Davis, Movies.com:

"'The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman' was like a bad music video. Needed to be less cool & tell a better story. #Sundance"

Chase Whale, Twitch:

"'Necessary Death:' not even a solid Shia performance or M83 and Sigur Rós-filled soundtrack could save this incoherent love story. #Sundance"

"Computer Chess"
Category: NEXT
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Starring: Patrick Riester, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary
Synopsis: "'Is there a computer program in the house which can stand up against a human chess master?' That’s the question posed by mastermind of the game Pat Henderson, head of an annual computer chess tournament. Set in 1980 in a nondescript hotel, 'Computer Chess' follows several young geniuses as they try to make the ultimate chess program to beat a human player. As the nerdy guys sweat through various social situations (especially with the one girl there), and the convention overlaps with a group of new-age couples in therapy, things get really strange."

Reviews:

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

"Excels at conveying the frustrations of feeling trapped by forces beyond one's control, the complexities of humanity irresolvable by any neat code."

Christie Ko, ScreenCrave:

"The best surprise I’ve had at Sundance so far; I walked in, was confused for a few minutes about what I was seeing, and then was positively swept away by the comedy and the strangeness."

Anthony Kaufman, Screen International:

"A profoundly idiosyncratic and strangely offbeat movie."

Michal Oleszczyk, Chicago Sun-Times:

"Manages to create a parallel world as absurd as it is believable."

Jordan Hoffman, ScreenCrush:

"Like a bizarro version of a Christopher Guest film, loaded with deadpan humor and odd tangents."

Tweets:

Michael Tully, Hammer to Nail:

"Andrew Bujalski's 'Computer Chess' is the first truly visionary film I've encountered so far. #Sundance"

Peter Howell, Toronto Star:

"'Computer Chess:' Calling all nerds! Retro formalist approach, Lynch/Maddin zany, finds man/machine sweet spot. Cool 2B square. #Sundance"

Russ Fischer, /Film:

"'Computer Chess:' Kind of a Tim and Eric thing that no one remembered to ask Tim and Eric to show up for. #sundance"

Sam Adams, A.V. Club:

"'Computer Chess:' Knight to king's WTF. #Sundance"

Michael Nordine, L.A. Weekly:

"I hated everything about 'Computer Chess' but the cats. #sundance"

"Linsanity"
Category: Doc Premieres
Director: Evan Jackson Leong
Synopsis: "In February 2012, an entire nation of basketball fans unexpectedly went 'Linsane.' Stuck in the mire of a disappointing season, the New York Knicks did what no other NBA team had thought about doing -- they gave backup point guard Jeremy Lin an opportunity to prove himself. He took full advantage, scoring more points in his first five NBA starts than any other player in the modern era, and created a legitimate public frenzy in the process. Prior to this now-legendary run, Lin had faced adversity in his career at every turn. He wasn’t offered a scholarship by any major university, nor was he drafted by any NBA team after a standout collegiate career at Harvard."

Reviews:

Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter:

"A sports doc with abundant heart."

Scott D. Pierce, Salt Lake Tribune:

"The feel-good movie of the festival."

Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times:

"One of the most crowd-pleasing documentaries to play the festival this year."

Susan Gerhard, Fandor:

"As exciting as watching that game-winning miracle three-pointer or revenge dunk."

Daniel Fienberg, HitFix:

"A relatively familiar hagiography."

Tweets:

Robert Levin, am New York:

"#Linsanity doc at #Sundance a powerful reminder of how lucky we NYers were to experience Linsanity."

Jennifer 8. Lee, Jennifer8Lee.com:

"One of the best scenes in Sundance documentary 'Linsanity,' Jeremy Lin karaoking 'A Whole New World' in Taipei."

Brian Newman, Sub-Genre:

"'Linsanity' is the f-n bomb! #sundance"

Click Below to Read More Sundance Reviews and Tweets Of:
"After Tiller"
"Ain't Them Bodies Saints"
"Austenland"
"Before Midnight"
"Crystal Fairy"
"Don Jon's Addiction"
"The East"
"Escape from Tomorrow"
"In a World"
"Kill Your Darlings"
"May in the Summer"
"The Spectacular Now"
"Stoker"
"Touchy Feely"
"Twenty Feet From Stardom"
"Two Mothers"
"Upstream Color"
"Who Is Dayani Cristal?"

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