15 items from 2015
I am at my second Sundance Film Festival. These are my reviews.
Sundance Film Festival 2015 Reviews
Director/Screenwriter: Leslye Headland
U.S.A., 2015, 92 min., color
Plot (courtesy of Sundance): Jake and Lainey impulsively lose their virginity to each other in college. When their paths cross 12 years later in New York, they realize they both have become serial cheaters. Bonding over their chronic infidelity, they form a platonic friendship to support each other in their quests for healthy romantic relationships.
Review: Right from the beginning, we know Lainey (Brie) is a train wreck. She tries to get a dorm door down, and Jake (Sudeikis) is somehow charmed by this mess. Mainly because we learn he’s a little messed up too. That was college, but now we’re in present day, »
- Jeff Bayer
Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we’ve got a new image from HBO’s upcoming Westworld TV adaptation, featuring Ed Harris as The Man in Black, a character described as “the distillation of pure villainy into one man”…
Based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is produced by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight), Lisa Joy (Burn Notice) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), and will see Harris joined in the cast by the likes of Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World), James Marsden (X-Men), Ingrid Bolso Berdal (Hercules), Eddie Rouse (American Gangster), Demetrius Grosse (Justified), Kyle Bornheimer (Bachelorette), Currie Graham (Murder in the First), Lena Georgas (Ray Donovan), Steven Ogg (Grand Theft Auto V), Timothy Lee DePriest (With the Angels), Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Game: Mockingjay), Rodrigo Santoro (300: Rise of an Empire), Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope), Angela Sarafyan (The Immigrant), and Simon Quarterman »
- Gary Collinson
I try not to make sweeping pronouncements about Sundance movies until I’m back at sea level, and my brain is receiving its usual amounts of oxygen; there’s something about the air up here that can occasionally lead to irrational exuberance. (Google “The Spitfire Grill” or “Happy, Texas” if you don’t know what I mean.)
Even though I’m still in Park City, Utah, (and panting when I walk up hills) I’ll »
- Alonso Duralde
Leslye Headland’s first feature, Bachelorette, debuted at Sundance in 2012. An adaptation of her own bleak, savage play about female friendship, it was duly toned down for the screen. Her followup, Sleeping with Other People, is the full Hollywood sell-out. One of the more interesting young voices in film has made a very, very traditional romantic comedy.
In Park City to present her film, Headland described it as: “When Harry met Sally for assholes” – and indeed the plot is very close to the Nora Ephron classic. Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) lose their virginity to each other in college and don’t meet again for a decade, when they’re both attending a sex addicts anonymous meeting. Ever since Lanie left him, »
- Jordan Hoffman
One of my favorite romantic comedies of all time is When Harry Met Sally. It's classic, timeless and delivers the perfect depiction of friendship between the opposite sexes, dating and relationships. And while countless films have tried to duplicate the brilliance of director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Eprhon, many of them fall tragically short. But thankfully, we have Sleeping with Other People from Bachelorette writer and director Leslye Headland, and this is hopefully as close as we'll get to what is essentially a remake of the aforementioned 1989 romantic comedy staple. But the film has a style and attitude all its own. Headland herself describes the film as When Harry Met Sally for assholes, and since the story follows Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie), two people who have problems committing to relationships and cheat to get out of them, that's pretty damn accurate. They meet in college and »
- Ethan Anderton
The last time writer and director Leslye Headland premiered a film at Sundance, it was 2012’s “Bachelorette,” a raunchy twist on the “girls just wanna have fun” subgenre of comedy, and one that might have arrived just a touch too soon after the box office juggernaut that was “Bridesmaids” (in a strange twist, Paul Feig’s feel-good comedy hit was nominated for two Oscars the morning after “Bachelorette” premiered at the festival). Headland adapted that feature from her own dark comedic play of the same name, and the results were decidedly mixed. A pitch black comedy with a winning cast of stars who were all saddled with despicable characters that repulsed each other (and their audience) at every possible turn. Fortunately, Headland doesn’t seem compelled to return to that kind of material, as the filmmaker has now made a refreshingly funny and romantic feature that is more than worth »
- Kate Erbland
Park City, Utah -- Alison Brie feels supported. Not only did the actress refer to shooting her latest "Sleeping With Other People" as "the greatest experience I've ever known in film," but she is also feeling the love for her TV show "Community," which has moved from being network television on NBC to being run via Yahoo. "NBC kept us on the air for a long time and I'm very grateful, but being with Yahoo, we've never felt more supported as a show," Brie told HitFix from the red carpet at the Sundance Film Festival, where "Sleeping" premiered last night (Jan. 24). "Theyre excited to market the show, they're excited about the show, which I think is something we haven't felt in a long time." As for this comedy movie -- in which she starred opposite of Jason Sudeikis -- Brie experienced a couple of firsts: it was her first time filming with a female director, »
- Katie Hasty
You expect a romantic comedy titled "Sleeping With Other People" to feature a lot of sex, and on that front Leslye Headland's follow-up to "Bachelorette," which premiered last night at Sundance, didn't disappoint. The comedy stars Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as a pair who lost their virginity to each other in college, only to reunite years later in a sex addicts support group in New York. The two actors appear in several compromising positions with a variety of partners (including Amanda Peet and a smarmy Adam Scott). What Headland's film is notable for is its total lack of nudity despite the provocative subject matter. "I personally don't like nudity," Headland explained during the post-screening discussion at the Eccles. "It was Leslye's choice," Brie added. "It especially speaks to her innovation and creativity to create sex scenes that are about intimacy and connection and not about nudity — and can still be. »
- Nigel M Smith
At a time when audiences are more friendly to raunch-coms than to rom-coms, writer-director Leslye Headland tries to split the difference in “Sleeping With Other People.” Essentially an updated “When Harry Met Sally … ” with texting (or, as Headland described the characters at the Sundance preem, “with a–holes”), two quippy New Yorkers spend more than 90 minutes trying to answer whether a man and a woman can be friends without romance entering the picture. Adhering pretty strictly to romantic-comedy conventions, the pic feels too broad for the arthouse and too small for the multiplex, leaving it in an uncomfortable commercial gray area.
Headland gets the meet-cute out of the way in the first scene, as Lainey (Alison Brie) makes a spectacle in a college dorm yelling at the top of her lungs and banging on the door of the unseen object of her affection. Jake (Jason Sudeikis) pulls her away to »
- Geoff Berkshire
Like the characters she creates, writer/director/playwright/producer Leslye Headland is delightfully unhinged. She doesn't hold back in her work or during an interview. Headland was last at Sundance with her raucous, female-driven directorial debut "Bachelorette," based on her hit off-Broadway play. Since then she has developed projects for television and wrote the script for the Kevin Hart film, "About Last Night." Headland's anticipated second feature, "Sleeping with Other People," premieres in Park City tonight and is said to be as raunchy and incisive about relationships like her debut. The comedy stars Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as a pair who lose their virginity to each other in college, only to later reunite at a sex addicts support group in New York. Headland spoke with Indiewire before Sundance got underway to discuss her latest film, shooting sex scenes and what she makes of the controversy surrounding the recent Academy Award. »
- Nigel M Smith
Filmmaking careers are born at Sundance, as evidenced by directors Kevin Smith (“Clerks”), J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call”) and Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”). This year’s festival features plenty of returning artists as well as new voices with something fresh to say. TheWrap talked to buyers and sellers before whittling down this list of 10 buzzworthy filmmakers on the eve of Sundance. Something tells us we’ll be hearing about them for years to come.
Nikole Beckwith, »
- Jeff Sneider
Buyers will be out in full force this week in Park City but with so many options to choose from, it helps to have a cheat sheet to prioritize the must-see acquisition titles at Sundance. After talking to buyers and sellers alike, here are the 10 most promising titles with the loudest buzz heading into this year’s festival.
The Bronze (WME)
What’s the Deal?: The highlight of Sundance’s opening night lineup is this raunchy comedy from director Bryan Buckley featuring co-writer Melissa Rauch in what could prove to be a star-making performance. The “Big Bang Theory” actress plays a washed-up Olympic gymnast whose local celebrity is threatened by the arrival of a promising young gymnast seeking a mentor. Sundance describes the foul-mouthed protagonist as “a lovably loathsome character who makes Tonya Harding look like Grace Kelly,” so perhaps this will be the next “Bad Words?”
First Screening: Thursday, Jan. 22, 9:30 p.m. – Eccles
What’s the Deal?: Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt play East L.A. parents on the verge of a nervous breakdown as they juggle marital and parenting duties. Things get weird when she enjoys a night on the town with her girls and he takes the opportunity to invite his buddies over for smoking, drinking and carousing. Joe Swanberg’s latest may be his most commercial film yet, and it certainly features his most high-profile cast. Between Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Chris Messina, Jenny Slate, Melanie Lynskey, Timothy Simons, Ron Livington, comedian Mike Birbiglia and veterans Sam Elliott and Judith Light, there’s someone for everyone.
First Screening: Monday, Jan. 26, 9:45 p.m. – Eccles »
- Jeff Sneider
Leslye Headland was last at Sundance for the premiere of her 2012 film "Bachelorette," with Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson. Since then she has developed some projects for television and wrote the script for the Kevin Hart film, "About Last Night." Headlan's latest film, "Sleeping with Other People," revisits similar themes of modern relationships. Years after impulsively losing their virginity to each other in college, Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) meet at a support group in New York ("What's a nice girl like you doing at a sex addicts meeting?"). A spark resurfaces, but they've walked this road before. Abject failures in romance who lead lives of serial infidelity and self-sabotage, they agree to a platonic friendship to mutually support their recovery—and what's more supportive than teaching your friend proper self-stimulation? Can love bloom while you're sleeping with other people? What it's about: characters »
- Casey Cipriani
The Party Report’s early picks of the prestigious, unique and special gatherings at the festival. Look for these intimate invites in your inbox
Despite causing agita throughout the industry for threatening not to circulate his annual “Sundance Party List” for talent, publicists and media — Chris Ryan’s encyclopedic tome is forthcoming and will be likely forwarded several times by the time you’re reading this post.
This is not that list.
Instead of a comprehensive treatise, I’ve picked the intimate, special and the unique gatherings of the creative community and people who make Sundance scene special and so broadly popular, »
- Mikey Glazer
Last week, Sony Pictures announced that their controversial comedy The Interview has earned $15 million from online sales and rentals, and an additional $2.8 million in its limited theatrical release over its first five days. The studio released even more sales figures today, revealing that the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy has earned $31 million in online and VOD sales and rentals, between December 24 and January 4, and $5 million in theaters in that same time frame. The $36 million total is just under half of $75 million Sony spent to produce and market the comedy.
The studio announced that The Interview, "is Sony Pictures' #1 online film of all time," with over 4.3 million online transactions in the first week and a half in release. The comedy, which follows a TV journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Seth Rogen) tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park), was initially slated to be released in over 3,000 theaters on Christmas Day, »
15 items from 2015
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