Monday, April 15, 2024

Sundance 2012: From Bruce Willis to Chis Rock, Sarandon, Gere, Spike Lee, Paul Simon


The Sundance Film Festival has announced 13 premieres for this year’s festival, which begins January 19, 2012. Big stars like Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere. Chris Rock, and Spike Lee all figure prominently. Sundance regular Parker Posey, one of our favorite people is starring in a new film. A couple of films I knew were going–and had to sit on the news. “Arbitrage” is high on the must see list, especially because of director Nick Jarecki. And in documentaries, everyone’s excited to see Joe Berlinger‘s “Graceland” anniversary film with Paul Simon. Berlinger, however, is probably not thrilled to see Amy Berg’s Peter Jackson-funded West Memphis 3 film–and I’m surprised Sundance took it, given that Berlinger has already made three excellent films on the subject. But he’s already moved on to new things. Also Rory Kennedy has made a film about her mother, Ethel Kennedy. I’m sure this will be the topic of discussion at tonight’s Robert F. Kennedy Foundation dinner.


2 Days in New York (France) – Directed by Julie Delpy, written by Delpy and Alexia Landeau. A Gotham-set sequel of sorts to “2 Days in Paris,” starring Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau and Alex Nahon.

Arbitrage – Directed, written by Nicholas Jarecki. A hedge-fund magnate, desperately trying to unload his financial empire before his fraud is revealed, makes a fatal mistake. With Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling and Laetitia Casta.

Bachelorette – Directed, written by Leslye Headland. A woman becomes engaged to one of New York’s most eligible bachelors and asks three high-school friends to be her bridesmaids, bringing their issues to the surface. Features Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer.

California Solo – Directed by Marshall Lewy. A Britpop ex-rocker now living on a farm outside Los Angeles must deal with personal demons. Stars Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Kathleen Wilhoite, A Martinez and Danny Masterson.

Celeste and Jesse Forever – Directed by Lee Toland Krieger, written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. In which the titular high-school sweethearts decide to get divorced at 30 but remain best friends. Stars Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood and Emma Roberts.

For a Good Time, Call … – Directed by Jamie Travis, written by Katie Anne Naylon and Lauren Anne Miller. Two new roommates embark on a highly unconventional business venture. With Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber and James Wolk.

Goats – Directed by Christopher Neil, written by Mark Jude Poirier. In which Ellis leaves his unconventional desert home to attend the rigorous Gates Academy, where he reconnects with his estranged father. Stars David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Justin Kirk and Ty Burrell.

Lay the Favorite – Directed by Stephen Frears, written by D.V. DeVincentis. A young woman gets involved with a group of geeky older men who have figured out how to get rich in Vegas. With Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall.

Liberal Arts – Directed by Josh Radnor. A thirtysomething guy falls for a 19-year-old student at his old alma mater. Stars Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, John Magaro and Elizabeth Reaser.

Price Check – Directed, written by Michael Walker. A happy family man copes with rising debt and a job he hates. Features Parker Posey, Eric Mabius, Annie Parisse, Josh Pais and Cheyenne Jackson.

Red Hook Summer – Directed by Spike Lee, written by James McBride and Lee. A young Atlanta boy spends a summer in Brooklyn with the grandfather he’s never seen before. With Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, Toni Lysaith, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd.

Red Lights – Directed by Rodrigo Cortes. A psychologist and her assistant with an interest in paranormal activity find themselves investigating a world-renowned psychic. With Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen and Toby Jones.

Robot and Frank – Directed by Jake Schreier, written by Christopher Ford. An old curmudgeon gets a robot for a caretaker. Stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler. Salt Lake City gala.

Shadow Dancer (U.K.) – Directed by James Marsh, written by Tom Bradby. Arrested in an aborted bomb plot, a widow must make hard choices to protect her son. With Andrea Riseborough, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.

The Words – Directed and written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. An aspiring writer claims another man’s literary achievements as his own. Features Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoe Saldana. Closing-night film.


The eight world premieres in this section are from the U.S. unless otherwise noted.

About Face – Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Explores issues of beauty and aging through supermodels’ stories.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography – Directed by Stacy Peralta. Examines the lives off six teenage boys who formed a skateboarding team in the 1980s.

The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia – Directed by James Redford. Follows a dyslexic high school senior struggling to get into a competitive college.

Ethel – Directed by Rory Kennedy. An intimate portrait of Ethel Kennedy, specifically her years with and later without her husband, Robert F. Kennedy.

A Fierce Green Fire – Directed by Mark Kitchell. Etches a history of the environmental movement from the 1960s to the present.

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (U.K.) – Directed by Ice-T, co-directed by Andy Baybutt. Traces the roots and history of rap through interviews with some of its most influential practitioners.

Untitled Paul Simon Project – Directed by Joe Berlinger. Follows Simon back to South Africa to explore the musical and political legacy of his “Graceland” album.

West of Memphis – Directed by Amy Berg. Examines judicial, prosecutorial and jury misconduct in the widely publicized West Memphis Three trials.

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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