On Entourage, Vincent Chase would do his dumb-whore popcorn movies (like Aqua-Man) and feel humiliated, but the truth is that he rarely looked more hapless than when he was making one of his “integrity” projects — like his Pablo Escobar biopic, or the I’m-just-Vinnie-from-the-block indie Queens Boulevard, which wound up getting showcased at Sundance. If Entourage wasn’t about Vincent Chase but was about Kristen Stewart instead, her Escobar-meets-Queens Boulevard wince-worthy integrity dud might be Camp X-Ray, in which Stewart plays a guard at Guantanamo Bay who winds up uncovering the big lie of American anti-terrorist policy by making friends with one of the prison camp’s detainees. Has he been unjustly imprisoned? Maybe, but as the film sees it, the real injustice is that he’s been locked up with no end in sight, and he’s nice. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Sundance Film Festival (51-60 of 431)
Fresh off their festival-opening premiere, 28-year-old director Damien Chazelle, and actors Miles Teller, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, and Auston Stowell dropped by EW’s Sundance Lounge to chat about their buzzy new film Whiplash.
Teller and Chazelle described the prep work the 26-year-old actor (who also has a role in the upcoming Divergent movie) had to put in on the drums to play his character Andrew Neiman, a brilliant, driven young jazz drummer under the tutelage of an abusive maestro played by J.K. Simmons. (EW’s Owen Gleiberman describes the film as “a jazz version of the very good inside-classical-music drama Mr. Holland’s Opus crossed with a drill-sergeant-from-hell classic like An Officer and a Gentleman, with Simmons in the Lou Gossett Jr. role.”) READ FULL STORY
When we first meet 13-year-old Jacob in Kat Candler’s Hellion, he’s hopping on his motorbike and furiously speeding away. In the next scene, he’s demolishing a vehicle in the parking lot of a high school football game as heavy-metal guitars scream. He bashes in the windshield with a bat as his friends decorate the doors with red spray paint. Jacob even seems to get one last shot in after he realizes that a few angry adults have spotted them.
These are deeply angry young men, but Jacob is more nuanced than a rage monster thanks to the stunning breakout performance of Josh Wiggins. As the eldest brother of a Southeast Texas family in turmoil — mom’s dead, dad (played with stoic gruffness by Aaron Paul) is basically a shell — the now 15-year-old Texas native is a revelation, reminiscent of a teenage Leonardo DiCaprio in his breakout role in 1993’s This Boy’s Life. With his intense brow, angular face and piercing eyes, he even kind of resembles DiCaprio physically. “I get that… sometimes,” Wiggins laughs.
Unlike Leo, though, Wiggins was discovered on YouTube.
The opening-night movie at the Sundance Film Festival is often, almost by design, a mild, light, forgettable affair. A lof of filmmakers don’t want the opening slot, and the basic idea is that the bar can’t be raised too high, because then you’ll risk making all the movies that come afterward look disappointing. But Whiplash, which opened the 30th anniversary edition of Sundance last night, didn’t just raise the bar — it electrified the spirits of everyone who saw it, including me. It stars Miles Teller, who had his breakthrough role in last year’s Sundance favorite The Spectacular Now (and will soon be seen in Divergent), and Whiplash confirms that he’s truly a spectacular actor, with a slightly damaged glamour and a face you can’t stop watching because of all the feelings it registers. Last year, I said that Teller reminded me of Elvis Presley. In Whiplash, he’s more like the young John Cusack, but with a cockiness that never hardens into attitude; it’s open and shifting. He plays Andrew Neiman, a brilliant, driven young jazz drummer who is attending the Schaffer Academy in Manhattan, a (fictional) performing-arts institution that, as presented, is one of the best music schools in the country. There, he comes under the tutelage of the school’s fearsome and legendary taskmaster — a scarily exacting maestro of jazz named Terence Fletcher, played, in a bravura performance, by J.K. Simmons. This isn’t the cuddly, twinkly Simmons we’ve grown used to in recent years. In skin-tight black T-shirts, his shaved head set off by mad-dog eyes and a squiggly vein running down the side of his temple like an electric wire, he’s more like Bruce Willis with three times the ferocity. READ FULL STORY
Lionsgate and CNN Films acquired the North American rights to documentary Dinosaur 13, a film that follows the intense fight over Sue, the largest and most complete tyrannosaurus rex ever found. The film will have a broadcast premiere on CNN and will also be released in theaters.
Lionsgate and CNN Films have a strong history with documentaries: Fahrenheit 9/11, Religulous, and Grizzly Man are among the films Lionsgate has picked up in the past, and CNN Films released 2013’s hit Blackfish.
It’s going to be a memorable Sundance Film Festival if the rest of the movies can keep up with the beat that Whiplash laid down last night. The opening-night premiere from 28-year-old director Damien Chazelle tells the story of an ambitious jazz-drummer prodigy (Miles Teller) who bumps up against an intimidating tyrant of a music teacher played by J.K. Simmons. Bad-ass bald, with bulging biceps that fill his fashionable black t-shirts, Simmons’ Terrence Fletcher is a cruel taskmaster who bludgeons his students with torrents of mocking, often homophobic, invective in his mission to create true genius. Fletcher toys with them psychologically and bullies them physically, like some musical Bobby Knight. “I remember when I first met [J.K.], I just sort of told him, “Remember how you were in Oz? I want to make that guy look like the teacher in Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Chazelle said to the audience after last night’s premiere.
Chazelle himself was a serious jazz drummer in high school, and he based the poisenous relationship on one he had with one of his own mentors. “Drums had always been like a fun hobby for me, and for four years, when I was in that ensemble, it became just a source of constant dread,” he said last night. “Just looking back, it was an interesting experience because I became a much better drummer than I know I ever would’ve, but I also didn’t enjoy it at all. And maybe for people who feel that music should be about joy and fun, it was missing the point. So those were certain questions that I was grasping with and I just wanted to write about it.”
That Whiplash — which refers to a jazz composition composed by Hank Levy — got a prime Sundance showcase is a great tribute to Chazelle’s crew, and an honor to the festival’s spirit. Last year, Whiplash won the Sundance price for Best Short film, and Chazelle spent the last 12 months turning an 18 minute short, that was specially created as a sample to show potential investors, into a deeper, richer two-hander that questions all the blood, sweat, and tears that seem to be the price of greatness. Sony Pictures quickly picked up the distribution rights to some international markets. A big number for the price of the domestic rights would not surprise anyone who witnessed last night’s premiere. (Though if the film becomes a hit, Simmons’ future as a comforting, vest-wearing pitch-man for Farmers Insurance might soon need to be rethought.)
Sundance 2014: Elisabeth Moss tells Jason Schwartzman he's impossible to live with in 'Listen Up Philip' trailer
Philip is not for everyone.
An accomplished novelist, and world-class narcissist, the lead character (portrayed by Jason Schwartzman) of director Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip at least leaves quite an impression on the people he encounters, whether they’re his literary idols, his ex-girlfriends, random photo assistants, or the girl who happens to be living at the country house he retreats to.
In the first teaser for Perry’s third feature, premiering at Sundance on Jan. 20, we’re treated to bits from the supporting characters in his life. Some are reaching out to help, some are having heartfelt conversations, and some are just telling him to back off, but all are looking straight into the camera — putting the viewer in Philip’s place. Take a look after the jump.
After writer-director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash had a successful night as the opening film for Sundance, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired rights to several international territories to the movie.
Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, is adapted from a short film that won the jury award for fiction at last year’s festival. The movie follows new college student Andrew (Teller) as he struggles to become the core drummer of an esteemed jazz orchestra with the help of a tough instructor (Simmons).
If you’re not in Park City, Utah, for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, don’t worry: Entertainment Weekly will bring you along for the ride.
Stick with EW.com over the next week and a half for interviews with your favorite celebs and details about the movies you’ll be talking about over the next year. Let’s hand it over to resident movie experts Anthony Breznican and Sara Vilkomerson in Utah:
READ FULL STORY
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