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The Best Films Of The 2012 Sundance Film Festival (Our Complete Coverage)

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 1, 2012 5:56 PM
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  • 3 Comments
The swag bags have been claimed, the drunken dealmaking is done, and Park City returns to being a sleepy ski resort as the Sundance Film Festival ended over the weekend. As always, it was a whirlwind, and for anyone who may have doubted the health of the film industry, the number of films getting buzzed about, sold and picked up, should quell those concerns.

Sundance Review: 'Under African Skies' A Straightforward, But Feel Good Triumph For Fans Of Paul Simon's 'Graceland'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • January 30, 2012 8:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A simultaneous portrait of a great moment in music and terrible one in human history, “Under African Skies” tells the story of the making of Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the backdrop of oppression out of which it triumphantly emerged. Director Joe Berlinger takes a closer look at the creation of the landmark album via Simon’s collaborations with a cross-section of South African musicians, in the process highlighting a volatile time in that country’s history, and arguing that the record eventually contributed to the downfall of apartheid, if indirectly. Clean and accurate to its premise without necessarily transcending expectations, “Under African Skies” is a documentary version of “The Help” in that it completely satisfies audiences’ demand for social justice without doing anything surprising in the process.

Sundance Review: 'V/H/S' A Solidly Delivered Horror Anthology That Brings The Thrills

  • By William Goss
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  • January 30, 2012 7:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When compared to the pristine picture quality of Blu-ray, the VHS format is a decrepit, grungy thing, so how better to make an anthology of grimy spook stories than to embrace that aesthetic all-around as "V/H/S" does? Made up of six found-footage style segments – few of which actually attempt to replicate the look of old tape, but all of which have their distinct variations in interference and texture – it’s a film consumed with bad deeds recorded and recovered, helmed by a who’s-who of current genre mavens and delivered with a good sense of playfulness around concepts and conceits generally exploited to lure in the gullible masses for the sake of a single opening weekend.

Sundance Review: Weird & Sometimes Confusing 'John Dies At The End' Is Still An Odd & Engaging Genre Treat

  • By John Lichman
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  • January 29, 2012 2:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The problem addressing fans of “Midnight” films and wacky horror can succinctly be found in the opening of Don Coscarelli's “John Dies At The End.” It involves axe handles, zombies, mutant leeches, axe heads, hardware store trips and answering a dead man as to whether or not the axe in question is the same that killed him. Confused? If you are, then you don't want to stick around. If you're too overjoyed that the spiritual successor to Sam Raimi has appeared, you're in luck.

Sundance Review: Richard Gere Shines In The Gripping Moral Morass Of 'Arbitrage'

  • By William Goss
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  • January 29, 2012 12:02 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is celebrating his 60th birthday at the start of "Arbitrage," first with his family – including wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and daughter/chief financial officer Brooke (Brit Marling) – and then with his mistress, Julie (Laetitia Casta). As the hedge fund manager’s deep financial woes become apparent to us, one wonders if he isn’t wishing while blowing out two cakes’ worth of candles for the ability to convince every character around that he still has the Midas touch.

Sundance Review: 'Red Lights' Invites You To Stop, Look & Listen

  • By William Goss
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  • January 28, 2012 6:53 PM
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  • 1 Comment
What you see, you can’t believe. What you can’t understand, though, can ultimately be explained. This is the modus operandi for Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), parapsychologists primarily interested in debunking supernatural phenomena. “When I see hoof prints,” she says, “I think of horses, not unicorns.” They work out of the Scientific Paranormal Research Center, a budget-strained department of an anonymous university, luring in curious students like Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ben (Craig Roberts) while butting heads with the well-supported likes of Dr. Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones).

Sundance Review: 'Save The Date' Is Light & Endearing Without Being Insubstantial; What Other Rom-Coms Should Aspire To

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 28, 2012 3:12 PM
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  • 2 Comments
With the countless number of romantic comedies focused on how difficult it is for a woman to find a good man, it’s incredibly refreshing to see one where the tables are turned. In “Save The Date,” Lizzy Caplan stars as Sarah, a struggling illustrator who keeps herself afloat by managing a local book store.

Sundance Review: 'Hello I Must Be Going' A Smart, Smutty & Sweet Tale About Love, Divorce & Growing Up In Your Mid-30s

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 28, 2012 8:53 AM
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  • 2 Comments
If there's a trend in the fiction narratives at Sundance in 2012, it's the series of smart(-ish), sweet(-er) and smutty(-styled) comedies in the mix here in Park City, some of which have been remarkably well-received ("For a Good Time Call") and some of which are not ("Bachelorette"). Think of it as the aftershocks and propagation wave of Judd Apatow's success, demonstrating that audiences can, and will, like characters who talk about their lives and lusts in blunt terms, make mistakes, and spend part of the time fucking and the rest of it fucking up.

Sundance Review: 'Keep The Lights On' A Moving & Engrossing Chronicle Of Two Men In Love

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • January 27, 2012 8:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
With "Keep the Lights On," co-writer/director Ira Sachs has made a triumphant return to Sundance. His latest drama is a beautiful exploration of a relationship’s progression from start to finish. With great tact and depth of feeling, Sachs shows us that the most remarkable thing about any relationship is not the beginning or end but rather the maintenance of what could only unfairly be called a dysfunctional couple. Unlike Sachs’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning "Forty Shades of Blue," which focuses on a singular moment in a marriage’s disintegration, "Keep the Lights On" follows a couple as they struggle to stay together.

Sundance Review: Disappointing 'Robot And Frank' Is High Concept Sci-Fi That's Low On Ideas

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 27, 2012 7:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In recent years Sundance has been hit with a handful of smart science fiction films tackling large themes within an extremely limited scope. From the $7000 “Primer” to the $5 million “Moon,” their respective filmmakers managed to put forth some interesting ideas without being hindered creatively by their minimal budgets. Last year’s breakout “Another Earth” may have suffered a bit from its great premise being pushed perhaps too far into the background of an otherwise standard grief drama. But it’s always a compromise between the resources that are available and how much of the hardware must actually be shown onscreen to create a believable world set in an alternate present or distant future. Arriving at a decision on what to cut and what needs to be shown must be agony for those films hoping to achieve any kind of scope. But in the best cases, smart filmmakers can use these restrictions to their advantage helping the films get their ideas across in the leanest way possible. This year’s sci-fi Sundance entry is “Robot And Frank,” a high concept, low-key heist film set in the near future.

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