While Park City doesn’t seem to have changed much — it was a gorgeous sight this morning with a couple of inches of overnight snow, even with jet lag — the festival has, of course, evolved during my three-year absence. The old press lounge at festival headquarters (the Park City Marriott, where I’m staying a fourth or fifth time) has been replaced by an industry-only lounge, and there are some new combination public/press and industry screenings provoking some grumbling this year. In fairness, the press has grumbled at virtually every film festival I’ve attended over the past 30 years.
Before I head out to Robert Redford’s opening press conference up at the Egyptian theater — and tonight’s first opener at the Eccles Theater (aka that big high school auditorium), the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” — whose subjects are suing the festival for defamation — a quick look at some films Im looking forward to, or at least I think may be newsworthy in one way or another:
“Bachelorette” — As far as I can tell, the loudest advance buzz surrounds this “Bridesmaids”-style comedy that debuting writer-director Leslye Headland adapted from her raunchy off-Broadway play set in New York City. Will Ferrell co-produced one of many films looking for distribution at the festival. The cast includes Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and James Marsden.
“Lay the Favorite” — I’m a big fan of veteran director Stephen Frears and of Rebecca Hall, cast as “an adventurous young woman who gets involved with a group of geeky older men who have found a way to work the sportsbook system in Las Vegas.” With Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn.
“2 Days in New York” — Director/star Julie Delpy (“Before Sunrise/Sunset”) intriguingly joins with Chris Rock in this romantic comedy.
“Red Hook Summer” — Spike Lee’s first feature in several years returns to Brooklyn for a small film about a man and his visiting grandson.
“Liberal Arts” — Last year’s Queen of Sundance, Elizabeth Olsen, as a 19-year-old college student who puts a thirty something guy (Josh Radnor, who also directed) under her spell. With Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney and my beloved Elizabeth Reasor.
“Red Lights” — Liz Olsen also plays Sigourney Weaver’s assistant, helping her investigate a world-renowned psychic who pay be a fraud. Cillian Murphy and Robert (Paycheck) DeNiro co-star.
“Nobody Walks” — A Sundance fish-out-of-water story about a young NYC artist (Olivia Thirlby) who spends a week with a “hip, liberal L.A. family” that includes (of course) John Krasinski.
“Predisposed” — Jesse Eisenberg as a musical prodigy and Melissa Leo as his drug-addict mom in what sure sounds like Oscar bait.
“Me @ the Zoo” — Documentary on You Tube fame whore-turned-porn star Chris Rocker.
“The Surrogate” — Sundance sensation John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone,” “Marcy May”) as a poet with polio who decides to lose his virginity at 38 to a hired surrogate (Helen Hunt). With William H. Macy.
“Arbitrage” — Richard Gere as a hedge fund king trying to unload his company before his fraud is discovery. Susan Sarandon plays his wife in what may be this year’s “Margin Call.’
By Lou Lumenick
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