Monday, April 22, 2024

Mary Kate and Ashley Have a Serious Actress Sister


Sundance 2011 opened with a lot of interesting moments, if not the best films.

Friday’s biggest revelation: that those annoying publicity hounds Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, aka the Olsen twins, have a serious actress sister.

Elizabeth Olsen, 21, debuted here on Friday with Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” the story of a young woman who gets sucked into cult in rural upstate New York. She’s raped, abused, brainwashed, and made witness to a murder.¬†Olsen is amazing. She also resembles more Maggie Gyllenhaal than her nightclubhopping sisters.

The rest of the cast is very good, of course: Hugh Dancy, Sarah Paulsen, John Hawkes, and Brady Corbet do a lot to support Olsen. But this young woman–who will appear later this year in Bruce Beresford’s “Peace, Love, and Understanding”–is going to be a big deal in 2011.

More from day 1: first, that Robert Redford narrates the opening animation for the premiere films does a lot to enhance the experience. Second: that every gift swagging, freebie guzzling, awful party person here should be made to watch the Susanne Rostock documentary of political activist, singer, and actor Harry Belafonte called “Sing Your Song.” The first 45 minutes recount an exceptional life of substance that should be a lesson to the crowd here. The great men and women of history didn’t waste their time trying to get free Oakley sunglasses.

Rostock literally just brought the finished film here. She may still do some work on it, especially in the second half. Belafonte’s recording career is rushed–his live Carnegie Hall album is considered a template for all such discs. Also, I don’t recall anything about his starring in Robert Altman’s “Kansas City.” But it was a pleasure to see his second wife Julie, and Diahann Carroll, another groundbreaker.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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