Sundance 2011: Aha! So that's where all the movie stars were hiding!
Image Credit: Bob Charlotte/PR Photos (3)Yesterday, when the 2011 Sundance Film Festival announced its full in competition line-up, a few eyebrows were raised about the somewhat surprising lack of star power in the year’s crop of films. Well, today, the festival announced its full out of competition slate, and a cavalcade of bold-faced tumbled forth. For one thing, from Jan. 20 through 30, 2011, Elizabeth Banks is going to be quite busy in Park City, Utah. Some highlights:
Ed Helms, Sigourney Weaver, and John C. Reilly in Cedar Rapids, about a small-town Wisconsin insurance salesman overwhelmed by the big city life at a regional insurance conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from director Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt).
Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, and Tobey Maguire in The Details, a seemingly wild and strange comedy involving raccoons, organ donation, and archery-as-murder, from writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes, (the 2004 Sundance sensation Mean Creek).
Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer in My Idiot Brother, about a pot-head ex-con who tries to live with his three sisters, directed by Jesse Peretz (The Ex).
Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, and Marisa Tomei in Salvation Boulevard, about a charismatic evangelical preacher who frames an ex-hippie for a crime he didn’t commit, directed by George Ratliff (the 2007 Sundance sensation Joshua).
A full list of the non-competition Premiere series features and documentaries (including Morgan Spurlock’s doc about product placement and branding, and Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s doc following Chastity Bono’s journey to transition from a woman into the man now known as Chaz Bono), with their Sundance-approved synopses, is after the jump.
And the out-of-competition, Premiere series narrative films:
Cedar Rapids (Director: Miguel Arteta; Screenwriter: Phil Johnston) — A wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man travels to big city Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at a regional insurance conference. Cast: Ed Helms, Sigourney Weaver, Alia Shawkat, John C. Reilly, Rob Corddry, Anne Heche.
The Convincer (Director: Jill Sprecher; Screenwriters: Jill Sprecher & Karen Sprecher) — An insurance salesman, caught in a caper involving a rare musical instrument, sets off a series of dramatic consequences. Cast: Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour.
The Details (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) — When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation, and murder by way of bow and arrow. Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Tobey Maguire.
The Devil’s Double (Director: Lee Tamahori; Screenwriter: Michael Thomas) — An extraordinary chapter in recent history providing a chilling vision of the House of Saddam comes to life through the eyes of the man who knew too much. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast.
I Melt with You (Director: Mark Pellington; Screenwriter: Glenn Porter, based on the story by Glenn Porter and Mark Pellington) — Four friends gather every year to celebrate their friendship. This year they are unexpectedly forced to confront a forgotten promise they made 25 years earlier. As they examine choices they’ve made, they realize that what they said they would do with their lives and what they have done are entirely different. Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino.
Life in a Day (Director: Kevin Macdonald) — Life in a Day is a historic global experiment to create the world’s largest user-generated feature film. On July 24, 2010, professional and amateur filmmakers captured a glimpse of their lives on camera and uploaded the footage to YouTube, serving as a time capsule for future generations.
Margin Call (Director and screenwriter: J.C. Chandor) — Over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, the key people at a investment bank struggle to decide how to handle an emergency business situation while examining the personal and moral implications of every action they take. Cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci.
The Music Never Stopped (Director: Jim Kohlberg; Screenwriters: Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, based on the story “The Last Hippie” by Oliver Sacks) — A father struggles to bond with his estranged son who suffers a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. He learns to embrace his son’s choices and to try to connect with him through the power of music. Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mia Maestro. Salt Lake City Gale Film.
My Idiot Brother (Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) — After serving time for selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer.Perfect Sense (Director: David Mackenzie; Screenwriter: Kim Fupz Aakeson) — A poetic and magnetic love story about two people who start to fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Connie Nielsen.
Red State (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo.
Salvation Boulevard (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: Doug Max Stone and George Ratliff, based on the novel by Larry Beinhart) — An evangelical preacher who has captivated a city with his charm frames an ex-hippie for a crime he did not commit. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei.
The Son of No One (Director and screenwriter: Dito Montiel) — Two men in post-9/11 New York are forced to relive two murders they committed as young boys. Their lives start to unravel by the threat of the revelation of these shocking and personal secrets. Cast: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche. CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Win Win (Director and screenwriter: Tom McCarthy, based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni) — When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.
And the out-of-competition, Premiere series documentaries:
Becoming Chaz (Directors: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) — Born biologically female, Chastity Bono invites the viewer into a deeply personal journey as he transitions from female to male, embracing his true self, which is Chaz.
Bobby Fischer Against the World (Director: Liz Garbus) — The drama of late chess-master Bobby Fischer’s career was undeniable, as he careened from troubled childhood to World Champion and Cold War icon to a fugitive on the run.
Granito (Director: Pamela Yates) — A documentary film intertwines with Guatemala’s turbulent history and emerges as an active player in a nation’s struggle to heal itself and serve up justice.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Director: Morgan Spurlock) — A documentary about branding, advertising, and product placement is financed and made possible by branding, advertising, and product placement.
The Interrupters (Director: Steve James) — From the Academy Award-winning director of Hoop Dreams comes a story of ex-gang members who are now protecting their communities from the violence they themselves once employed.
Reagan (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — Reagan examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern world — icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.
Rebirth (Director: Jim Whitaker) — Weaving together five stories of individuals whose lives were profoundly altered by the 9/11 attack with unprecedented time-lapse footage of Ground Zero composed over ten years, what emerges is a chronicle of grief’s evolution and a nation healing.
These Amazing Shadows (Directors: Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton) — The history and importance of the National Film Registry unfolds in a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself.