Friday, May 24, 2024

The Real Sundance Bombs: “Ledge,” “Cedar Rapids,” “Salvation,” “Future”


I told you all about the really good films we saw at Sundance 11 –“The Details,” “The Devil’s Double,” “Higher Ground,”  the Morgan Spurlock and Harry Belafonte docs, etc– and some of the even mildly interesting ones– “Martha Marcy Ray Marlene,” and so on. Here are a few of the failures, even those now bought for distribution.

Agonizing and disappointing is the only way to describe Miranda July’s “The Future.” Her “Me and You and Everyone We Know” was so much fun a few years ago. And “The Future” had promise galore. It’s narrated by a cat, so you know it’s eccentric. But it is a ghastly enterprise that has a little promise and goes nowhere. With July (real name Miranda Grossinger) and Hamish Linklater, it seems like the couple is cute and so is the premise. But there’s no there there. The movie also jumps the shark when Miranda’s character, for no reason, cheats on Hamish with a stranger. Just pfeh.

“The Ledge” was a mystery to me. Charlie Hunnam and Terrence Howard alternate storylines. The former wants to commit suicide. The latter was cuckolded by his wife. Enter Liv Tyler, who needs to pick better material. (She has so much potential, but no defined screen persona.) This film also has the worst lighting and production values. Yikes. None of it makes sense. I won’t give the ending away, but you will never see it either. This was a script either not thought through, or birthed in a haze of substances.

I could barely tolerate “Cedar Rapids,” a forthcoming Fox Searchlight film that seems like a branch of “The Office.” Fox Searchlight did pick up the very interesting “Another Earth” and “Homework,” two strong titles.  They also debuted Tom McCarthy‘s “Win Win” which is a win win. You can’t have everything. As usual, Ed Helms from “The Office” is a naif. John C. Reilly is a lout. The whole thing looks and sounds like an airplane movie. Sigourney Weaver, I know it’s tough out there, but really this is not necessary. Anne Heche needs to do serious dramatic work in indies. I still believe in her.

Equally quease-making was Greg Kinnear in “The Convincer,” with Alan Arkin helping to make this “Little Miss Sunshine” reunion collapse. This is supposed to be a ‘sting’ kinda movie with a big reveal toward the end. It’s too late. Bad title, and weird plot line about a rare violin. I don’t want to see Greg Kinnear thinking up any more get rich quick schemes, okay? Bob Balaban was very good as the violin appraiser. Otherwise, “The Convincer” strikes a sour note.

Finally, “Salvation Boulevard” is one of those not-funny wearying Christian send-up films. (I’m starting to feel sorry for the Christians.) Pierce Brosnan tries hard. Ed Harris and Marisa Tomei–who literally lights up the screen–are wasted. Greg Kinnear–yes, Greg, again–can do better. He also needs to start getting choosier. No redemption here.

And all these movies will be released. The trades and blogs were killing each other to report on which film went to which distributor. In these cases, really, it matters not. They will all be in DVD bins soon enough.

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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