At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Indiewire set up our (first-ever!) Sundance portrait studio inside the Canon Craft Services space to shoot the filmmakers and cast behind the festival’s hottest movies. We shot a lot of work (courtesy photographer Daniel Bergeron) over three days.
For this roundup, we concentrated on the casts. Here you’ll find Sundance pickups like “Cooties,” “Whiplash,” “Love is Strange,” “Cold in July” and “Land Ho!” along with favorites like “To Be Takei,” “Dear White People” (Indiewire’s Project of the Year!) and “White Bird in a Blizzard.”
Check them out – there’s more to come.
“Gore can only go so far in the service of humor. Fortunately, the team behind “Cooties”—which includes “Saw” creator Leigh Whannell and “Glee” creator Ian Brennan—manage to pit comedy and horror together in a satisfying package. Whannell and Brennan’s unapologetically absurd script pairs nicely with Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s terse direction in this solid midnight movie, where the laughs outnumber the body count tenfold. Yet, when Milott and Murnion dial it up, we forget we spent the last ten minutes cracking up.” Read more.
“The collective gasps that filled the theater on opening night should stand as a testament to Chazelle’s impressive ability to inject the film’s musical milieu with thriller-level tension. Although the life-or-death stakes experienced by the main character may be pushed beyond the limits of reality at times, Andrew’s sense of all-consuming urgency comes across on a visceral level. In one particularly affecting scene, Fletcher rotates his three drummers for hours on end until their shirts are soaked through with sweat, their hands bleeding and raw. It’s the kind of physicality one might expect from a sports movie but rarely finds in films about musicians, and the otherwise mild-mannered Teller is able to unleash the fury with the sticks, holding his own amongst the professional musicians that make up the supporting cast.” Read more.
“Once known only as the enterprising Mr. Sulu on the initial iteration of “Star Trek,” George Takei has since blossomed into so much more. Jennifer M. Kroot’s decently entertaining if somewhat one-note portrait “To Be Takei” tracks the Asian-American actor’s transition from supporting player to major pop culture figure, emphasizing his late career emergence as a modern gay icon.” Read more.
“Featuring extraordinarily sensitive turns by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging married couple forced to vacate their Manhattan apartment, “Love Is Strange” is a sophisticated take on contemporary urbanity infused with romantic ideals and the tragedy of their dissolution.” Read more.
“There was a lot to do with few resources and not a lot of time to do it in, but Jim and I knew that going in and did quite a bit of prep including some 3D rendered pre-vis animatics. Most of the questions that would come up on set had already thoroughly been talked about and the answer had already been determined. That coupled with us knowing each other for over a decade and three features together under our belt creates a like-mindedness that is indispensable.” Read more.
“There are a fair amount of doors slammed, tears shed, and f-bombs hurled but the household dynamic eventually settles into one of touching codependence that culminates in the film’s tearjerker of a final scene. Cynics may scoff at the fact that “Infinitely Polar Bear” glosses some of the filmmaker’s darker memories, but they’ll need an ice bucket handy if they intend to avoid its warmth altogether.” Read more.
“The years needed for change as in other civil rights movements echoes in the slow burn of win-appeal we suffer as an audience in the film. “The Case Against 8,” with its intimate argument in favor of humanity, could have something to teach the prosecutors leading that fight.” Read more.
“You’ve never see Eva Green like this before,” Araki gushed. “It will blow your mind. The funny thing about Eva Green is—it’s weird—because she’s playing 40ish for this movie and Eva is only 32 when we made this movie. And Shiloh is like 27 and he plays Shai’s teenage boyfriend. I don’t want to give it away, but there’s a weird flirtation between the Shiloh and Eva in the movie. And in real life they are four years apart. But in the movie, so creepy.” Read more.
“So let it be known throughout the land: William H. Macy has balls of steel. In addition to juggling a busy, successful film and television career, he’s taken on a new role—filmmaker. His first feature film, “Rudderless,” is a poignant story that explores finding happiness in the midst of loss and pain. And you know what? It’s really damn good.” Read more.
“Dear White People” has both ambition and execution, with its satire sharpened, not dulled, by the characters and real emotions inside it. As brave and bold a debut film as you can ask for, “Dear White People” may be imperfect, but it’s a safe bet that one day we’ll see it not as a first film but instead as the first film in the career of a writer-director with things to say and the talent, humor and humanity to say them. Read more.
“But even without a major climactic moment, the filmmakers arrive at a thoughtfully triumphant conclusion. Treasuring small victories and mood above all else, “Land Ho!” makes it possible to engage with its subjects’ pathos and experience their sense of renewal along with them, and concludes with the lingering sense that their adventure has only just begun.” Read more.