Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top 5 movies getting most buzz at Sundance!

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PARK CITY -- At the festival's midweek mark, here are the five films everyone is talking about.

The Kids Are All Right
Although its entry into the festival was so late that its place on the schedule read "Surprise Premiere," Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right" has already spent a day as the it-flick of Sundance. With a bidding war precipitating between companies for its distribution - with Focus Features eventually winning out - the comedy, starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple whose kids reconnect with their sperm-donor father, has garnered praise for its tackling of queer domestic issues.

Director Rodrigo Cortes' first English-language film, "Buried," had people talking well before its Saturday night premiere. The 90-minute thriller follows Ryan Reynolds' desperate attempts to escape from a coffin in which he's been buried alive. With a concept devoid of the usual cinematic resources -- supporting actors, for instance -- skeptics expected a claustrophobic, single-angle picture. But Cortes' ingenuity quickly won over doubters, and Buried turned out to be the first movie at the festival to be purchased for major release.

Exit Through The Gift Shop
The spray paint had barely dried on many Park City walls when British street artist Banksy premiered his late-entry documentary to a full theater at midnight Sunday. Part street-art doc, part celebrity critique, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" was prompted by another filmmaker's attempt to make a movie about the elusive underground star. Banksy's highly guarded identity is at the center of the film's debate, with the artist-turned-director questioning of the relationship between privacy and fame - drawing celebrities from Jared Leto to Adrian Grenier to its premiere.

The Runaways
With its non-competition status (meaning it already has a distributor) instantly labeling "The Runaways" as a bigger-budget film, the band biopic featuring Kristen Stewart as singer Joan Jett and a now-pubescent Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie is a Hollywood retelling of the story of the all-girl rockers who hit the mainstream in the late 1970s. In contrast to the 2004 Runaways documentary, however -- which excluded Jett and dished dirt about the jail-bait band's inner drama -- the Sundance debut is co-produced by Jett and nixes the alleged physical abuses by producer Kim Fowley in favor of playing up the band's halfhearted successes.

8: The Mormon Proposition
This Sundance has been marked by an explosion of documentaries, but none of the year's crop was more controversial than "8: The Mormon Proposition." Directed by Miami-area filmmaker Reed Cowan, "8" details the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints' efforts to raise $22 million to support California's anti-gay-marriage proposition. As expected, the film caused protests from citizens of the predominantly Mormon state, but less expected was the film's exclusion from Park City's Cinemark Holiday Village Theatre, the venue for most of the festival's official press screenings. Since the CEO of Cinemark made a large donation to the Prop. 8 campaign in 2008, one can only speculate as to why this compelling documentary was left out of the industry loop.

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