Mark and Jay Duplass did not disappoint with Fox Searchlight-backed Cyrus, a bizarre, intimate, unpredictable family drama that is believable, real and often hilarious. Jonah Hill steps up a notch in the title role as a pampered mother's boy who freaks when his mom (Marisa Tomei) brings home a new boyfriend (Reilly). The Duplasses have not betrayed their Mumblecore roots: they still employ a loose hand-held HD camera approach. They start with a script but allow their actors to take off from there, said Reilly at the party on Bing on Main, which drew the Duplasses, Tomei, Hill, David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, Danny McBride and Crazy Heart's Scott Cooper, giddy over Jeff Bridge's SAG win. "We keep shooting till we get it," Reilly said.
Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directing debut with Bob Gaudini's play-into-film Jack Goes Boating, a theatrical four-hander in which the actors go to town. Hoffman plays yet another sad sack who fears a lifetime alone. His friends set him up with another depressive (Amy Ryan). It's a well-acted dark, claustrophobic drama, which Overture will release this fall with limited b.o. expectations. (If there still is an Overture this fall.)
I ran into Michael Moore at the Jack Goes Boating screening. He's programming for his Traverse City Film Festival, enjoying just going to see movies, he said. He loved the shorts program and doc The Tillman Story. (IndieWIRE critic @erickohn tweeted: "THE TILLMAN STORY is less expose than consolidation of story fragments, but compelling document of military cover-up.")
The Sundance site has a plethora of materials: photos, Mike Jone's blog, and a series of meet-the-artists videos: here Casino Jack director Alex Gibney describes his timely doc subject (given the recent Supreme Court ruling against campaign finance reform), Jack Abramoff, as "Walter Mitty on steroids." His film debuts Sunday night.