Sundance 2013, Day Five Recap

'The Way, Way Back', Upstream Color' and more


Upstream Color

After the premiere of his mysterious and disturbing head trip Upstream Color, director Shane Carruth extrapolated that he was “in love with a building, an architecture to a story that will feel like a fable or a myth.” When asked about how he compared this film to his debut Primer, he strongly stated that his second feature is “vastly better and not really connected.” They are completely different and he loves how its construction ensures that it “descends into nothing but subtext.”

Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.

~ Synopsis

The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way Back

As co-directors/writers Jim Rash (Community) and Nat Faxon (Ben & Kate) took the stage, the audience gave them a standing ovation. This script was in development for 8 years and so sought after that it led to the both of them being able to write The Descendents (winning them the Oscar). The success of the that movie combined with buzz about the quality of the writing led to a dream cast which includes Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph and Sam Rockwell. Rash seemed to have an effortless punchline for every audience question with the exception of explaining that his own terrible relationship with his stepfather (who once told him he rated him a 3 on a scale of 10 as a person) was put into the film. After that somber moment, Rash paused and then said: “I can now confidently say I’m a 4.5.” Steve Carell also stole a few laughs on stage as when someone asked why Collette’s character would find him attractive. He stepped out of the cast line and silently raised his hands in angry exasperation at the audience member.

The Way, Way Back tells the story of 14-year-old Duncan’s awkward, funny, and sometimes painful summer vacation with his mother, Pam, her overbearing boyfriend, Trent, and his daughter, Steph. Although Duncan has a tough time fitting in and finding his place, he does find an unlikely ally and mentor in Owen, a carefree employee at the local water park where Duncan gets a job. Over the course of the summer, as his mother drifts further away, Duncan—with encouragement from Owen—begins to open up and come into his own.

~ Synopsis


The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

This ultra violent film proved to please most of the audience although it was clear the blood cleared the more faint of heart out before the Q & A. One particular chase scene in the film stands out, and star Shia LaBeouf said shooting the scene was “quick, dirty and painful.” The cast and crew talked about filming in Romania where they didn’t have to go through massive bureaucracy to shoot what and where they wanted to. They listened to the locals and didn’t do too many takes. Co-star Evan Rachel Wood, who plays a local girl, said she didn’t have a dialect coach on set and “that was how low budget it was.” Writer Matt Drake interjected fairy tale like qualities into this love story set in the seedy underbelly of Bucharest. LaBeouf commented that “fear does wild things to you” when asked how his he got through filming such a risky, harrowing film.

Obeying the last wish of his deceased mother, young American Charlie travels to Eastern Europe with no plans. He lands in a truly unknown place—wilder, weirder, and more foreign than he could have ever imagined. Committed to spontaneous, explosive, and instinctive acts, Charlie now finds himself pursuing an equally lost soul named Gabi, a mysterious Romanian woman unable to shake her dark, violent past.

~ Synopsis


Afternoon Delight

The premiere screening of Afternoon Delight saw the audience smitten with the onscreen quips of star Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers, The Goods), who plays a dissatisfied housewife who turns to a strip club to spice up her marriage and her psychiatrist Jane Lynch. The inspiration for the film came from real life when director Jill Soloway and Lynch went to a strip club together. Soloway got a lap dance and felt that there was a connection between her and the dancer. In the film, Hahn brings home the dancer because she believes she can turn her life around. Soloway has been a writer and director for television for years and said she could not get her own show so naturally turned to film. One extended sequence in the movie where wives from the Silver Lake community in California get drunk and go too far was inspired by the improvisational style of John Cassavetes. The cast actually got drunk and was allowed to riff on anything they wanted, leading to some riotous dialogue, but also some disquieting statements.

Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirtysomething steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Plagued by purposelessness, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and ends up meeting McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. It becomes clear that Rachel is feverishly, desperately trying to save her own sense of who she is

~ Synopsis

The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 17 to October 27, 2012. For a complete schedule of films, screening times, and ticket information, please visit the official website.

By Lane Scarberry

Lane Scarberry is a photographer and writer who loves to work at film festivals. Most notably, she has devoted herself to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for the last nine years. Favorite films include Dark City, Harold and Maude, The Apartment, Hud, and childhood favorite The Blues Brothers. The TV show Homicide: Life on the Street remains an obsessive fixture in her life that she refuses to let go of or find any fault in. She still wants to someday own a Dalmatian plantation a la 101 Dalmatians (only think Golden Retrievers and otters) and a sushi restaurant that holds insane movie marathons.

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