Film: The 2016 Sundance Film Festival
This year’s festival includes a testament to Kristen Stewart’s continuing career in art house cinema, Don Cheadle tooting his own horn as Miles Davis and one movie about a wiener dog, and another about a dog named Weiner.
By Katherine Monk
The festival kicks off in earnest later today with Robert Redford’s annual press conference, but before the press corps gets pressed together and becomes a blurb-spouting Borg, I made a list of ten standout titles that may, or may not, get mileage when it’s all over:
Captain Fantastic: Viggo Mortensen plays a father who’s raised six kids off the grid, and — for reasons as yet unknown — is forced to plug back in the world he left behind.
Certain Women: Kelly Reichardt is a true independent who embodies the Sundance ethos, and she returns with Certain Women, an adaptation of Maile Meloy’s short stories that stars Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart and Lily Gladstone.
Complete Unknown: Rachel Weisz stars as a mysterious dinner guest who may have a completely different identity than the one she is wearing in this new movie from Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace) that also stars Michael Shannon, Danny Glover and Kathy Bates.
Miles Ahead: Don Cheadle looks killer as the legendary jazz artist Miles Davis, but his participation in this biopic goes further than the eye can see: Cheadle also co-wrote and directed this homage to the late great horn player.
The Hollars: John Krasinski directs and stars in this family yarn about a matriarch about to undergo brain surgery and her motley brood who stand by her side.
Love and Friendship: Whit Stillman returns with a take on Jane Austen. I know, it sounds weird until you think about it, then it makes complete sense. Stillman has always been an observer of social codes and manners, using them to denude his characters — much like Austen — so this movie starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevingny should tat together like fine lace.
Wiener-Dog: Not to be confused with Weiner, a documentary about Anthony D. Weiner, former NYC mayoral candidate and sender of lewd messages, this new Todd Solondz movie stars Greta Gerwig, Ellen Burstyn and Danny DeVito as a cast of human characters whose lives are forever altered by a dachsund.
Maggie’s Plan: Because this year’s Sundance just can’t get enough Gerwig, Danny Glover or Michael Shannon (all of them appearing in multiple titles), this one features Gerwig alongside Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as a young woman looking to have a baby with an ambitious academic. With Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur Miller and wife to Daniel Day-Lewis) behind the camera, you know the dialogue will be lofty.
O.J. Made in America: This is actually a mini-series, not a movie, but it reflects some of the changes taking place at the festival as it moves into different formats, delivery systems and distribution models. Created by ESPN films’ 30 for 30 team, this series takes us from the halcyon days of “The Juice” as pop hero, to his infamy driving a white Bronco on the LA Freeway.
11.22.63: Another example of the changes taking place within the larger industry, this is just one part of a nine hour event created for Hulu that explores several simultaneous narratives surrounding the assassination of JFK. It also stars James Franco, Sarah Gadon, Josh Duhamel and Chris Cooper.
The Sundance Film Festival runs to January 31, and so does our coverage.
THE EX-PRESS, January 21, 2016