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Sundance Review: David Gordon Green Returns To Form With The Meditative, Funny & Sublime 'Prince Avalanche'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2013 2:54 PM
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  • 2 Comments
It's the summer of 1988 and a violent wildfire has swept through Texas, destroying 43,000 acres and some 16,000 homes. In the wake of this horrific devastation -- a freak of nature that no experts can explain -- two highway road crew workers spend the season in isolation, painting and repairing the roads that lie alongside these ravaged forests. Disciplined to a fault, Alvin (Paul Rudd) is perhaps too tightly wound for his own good and has a myopic idea of what a man should be. The boss of this operation, he loves the solitude the job affords him, and being away from the nearby (unnamed) big city. His girlfriend however, isn't entirely sold on the idea. Lance (Emile Hirsch), his partner and polar opposite, is a hopeless, emotionally immature dumbass. He lives for the weekend, getting wasted and getting laid. In fact, the only reason he has this job is because he's the brother of Madison, Alvin's girlfriend.

Sundance Review: Idiosyncratic & Hilarious ‘Toy’s House’ Heralds The Arrival Of A Fresh New Comic Voice

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 21, 2013 10:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
After the premiere screening of his wonderful debut feature “Toy’s House,” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts – responsible for the short “Successful Alcoholics” and a veteran of “Funny Or Die Presents…” – told the audience his influences for his first feature included early Amblin films like “The Goonies” with “elements of [Terrence] Malick,” and most surprisingly, “Bad Boys II.” The filmmaker had to clarify that he was not, in fact, joking about Michael Bay’s destruction opus, and his Twitter bio proves it (“Really into Michael Bay”). And so, from these wonderfully disparate influences we have “Toy’s House,” a crockpot of comedy and coming-of-age film without a trace of irony.

Recap: Minor Key 'Girls' Finds Hannah & Marnie Getting Some New Ideas

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 21, 2013 10:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If the season premiere was a bit of shakeup to reorient the gang in "Girls" for wherever the new season will take them, the second episode almost seems like an addendum. It's as if Lena Dunham and company decided they needed to make yet another shift to get the show in the direction they needed, and a couple of characters who we figured might be in play a bit longer definitely get sidelined. So yeah, spoilers ahead.

Sundance Review: Love Is Hard In The Charming But Emotionally Challenging 'Before Midnight'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2013 5:46 AM
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  • 7 Comments
What happened at the cliffhanger ending of 2004's "Before Sunset?" Did Jesse (Ethan Hawke) manage to catch his flight back to the United States or did he and Celine (Julie Delpy) finally re-consummate their nine-year-after-the-fact romance? These questions are answered in Richard Linklater's trilogy-concluding "Before Midnight," a charming and funny, but much more emotionally difficult and pained picture than one might have imagined. Those expecting another swooningly romantic movie are going to be in for a rude awakening. While "Before Midnight" certainly has its appealing moments of allure and levity, it's ultimately more "This Is 40"-style pain with much more honesty and real bite than Judd Apatow would likely ever go for, and when "Before Midnight" bares its fangs and becomes uncomfortable there are few moments of comedic relief or a new jaunty scene to cut to.

Sundance Review: Silly & Cartoonish 'Stoker' Is A Garish Misfire For Park Chan-Wook

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2013 5:05 AM
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  • 57 Comments
One could argue there's nothing subtle about the movies made by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, the director behind "Oldboy," including the celebrated Vengeance Trilogy and the loopy vampire movie, "Thirst." Violence reigns in his films, cameras pirouette like self-conscious characters in his ensemble, and style is king. But in the past, especially in "Oldboy" and "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance," his penchant for the outrageous and over-the-top always included sublime, comically brutal and sometimes even emotionally devastating conclusions that could leave the jaw agape. Style was always in service of a story and characters.

Sundance Review: The Searing 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' Burns With Intense & Visceral Portent

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 11:50 PM
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  • 13 Comments
Set in 1970s Texas, but stationed inside an authentic milieu that feels timeless and classic, David Lowery's second feature-length effort, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," is the culmination of a filmmaker who has put in over a decade of work in the trenches as an editor, cinematographer, writer, electrical department hand and more (fun fact: he's also the editor of Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color"). The jack of all trades is not only fluent in several languages within the vocabulary of this medium, he clearly has an innate understanding of each. Lowery is the real deal and understands filmmaking, and this is abundantly clear in this searing, romantic crime drama and love story.

Sundance Review: 'The East' Is A Divisive, But Stylish Thriller & Worthy Companion Piece To 'Sound Of My Voice'

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 20, 2013 10:25 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The first images in "The East" – the new thriller from Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, the team who made last year's underrated cult thriller "Sound Of My Voice" – are grainy footage of intruders breaking into someone's home juxtaposed with images of seagulls covered in oil. We are told through voiceover that this is the home of a CEO whose company was responsible for dumping millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.

Sundance Review: Lynn Shelton's 'Touchy Feely' Flirts With Greatness, But Proves Too Listless & Frustrating

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 9:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There's a strange and opaque energy coursing through the veins of Lynn Shelton's languid fifth feature-length effort, "Touchy Feely." It's a little mysterious, to the film’s moody credit, and it’s a little unavailable and removed, to its detriment. Lead actress Rosemarie DeWitt admitted, "I didn't really understand the character when I read the script," in the post Sundance Q&A. "But then I told her I didn't understand her either," Shelton explained. And not only does this sentiment ring true, it’s this mild inscrutableness that muddies this often compelling, occasionally sublime, but ultimately uneven family drama about energy, connections (missed or otherwise) and healing.

Sundance Review: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Takes Viewers On A Mind-Melting Vacation from Hell

  • By William Goss
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  • January 20, 2013 5:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We’re not sure why writer/director Randy Moore decided to come swinging out the gate with a first feature like “Escape from Tomorrow,” and frankly, we’re not entirely sure how he got away with even making it in the first place. Much of this dark, utterly bizarre comedy would appear to be covertly shot on the property of Orlando’s Walt Disney World, and despite Moore’s strident avoidance of the dreaded D-word, there’s little doubting that the Mouse House and all it represents is in his sights.

Sundance Preview: Jane Campion’s ‘Top Of The Lake’ Feels Like ‘The Killing’ Only With Haunting, Lasting Sustain

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2013 5:00 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Moody, without being oppressively dark or atmospheric, compelling and mysterious, Jane Campion's seven-part Sundance Channel series, "Top Of The Lake" – based on two episodes thus far – is an intriguing crime drama and mystery that's got this writer hooked.

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