Every January, Hollywood industry people mingle with film critics and fans in a mountain resort in Utah to pat each other’s backs and give standing ovations to movies that make them feel things. Otherwise known as the Sundance Film Festival, this celebration of cinema has been known to kick-start major careers and early Oscar campaigns.
This year, there’s a handful of selections that we have high hopes for. We covered The Miseducation of Cameron Post in an earlier article.
Chloe Sevigny seems tailor-made to inhabit the role of Lizzie Borden, a plain Massachusetts woman who snaps one day and axe-murders her father and stepmother. Who can resist the combo of Chloe Sevigny, period film trappings (this is set in the late 19th century), and criminal psychology? Oh, and lesbianism: Kristen Stewart plays an Irish maid who has an affair with Borden. Hopefully her accent is better than Julia Roberts’ in Mary Reilly.
The synopsis of this movie sounds a lot like the set-up for Get Out: A black man travels to a seemingly innocuous party full of white people, but once they start drinking and growing more comfortable around him, they start to appear a lot more antagonistic. Queer director Sebastian Silva has thrilled and surprised us with prior flicks Nasty Baby and Crystal Fairy, and we are optimistic about this latest outing.
Out rock legend Joan Jett might have a “bad reputation,” but she has definitely used that to her advantage. With this film, director Kevin Kerslake — who has made documentaries on Bob Marley and Nirvana — employs Jett collaborators and Jett herself to comment on her reputation and resultant legacy. (Yes, it will cover “I Love Rock & Roll.”)
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Remember Milk? That was pretty good. So was Good Will Hunting and My Own Private Idaho and even Finding Forrester. But for the last ten years, queer director Gus Van Sant has embarked on a period of self discovery during which he has not discovered any good movies. His last three flicks since Milk have been duds, and the most recent, Sea of Trees, was one of the worst-reviewed films of that year. So hopefully this real-life story about a paralyzed alcoholic cartoonist who finds redemption in art (or something) is a comeback for Van Sant. There’s something promising about this cast of Jonah Hill, Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Black, Rooney Mara, Carrie Brownstein, and Beth Ditto.
This documentary about NYC’s infamous nightclub/discotheque named (you guessed it) Studio 54 is about the greed, lust, and hedonism that fueled the exclusive Theater District party spot’s rise and fall. Ian Schrager, an original founder of Studio 54, apparently spills a shitload of hot tea in this.
This Keira Knightley vehicle already looks fascinating due to its subject matter (Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a.k.a. renowned French novelist and feminist Colette), but we’re also excited by its Flagrant connection. Director Wash Westmoreland, who wrote and directed the Oscar-winning Still Alice with his late husband Richard Glatzer, is a FoF. (That’s “Friend of Flagrant.”) Westmoreland achieved notoriety first as a gay porn director under the nom de porn “Wash West” — including The Hole, a porn parody of The Ring — before moving on to less skinematic fare. Glatzer, unfortunately, lost his life to ALS just a few days after Julianne Moore won her Oscar for Still Alice, but his legacy lives on in Westmoreland.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Remember back when Mr. Rogers was on TV making sweater vests cool and using mass media for educating children instead of spreading fake news? This documentary explores how the gentle, soft-spoken ordained minister Fred Rogers set about making “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and thus influencing the lives of countless generations of young people. Director Morgan Neville highlights how Mr. Rogers himself was bullied as a kid and how he grew into the moral leader that the country needed (and honestly, still needs.)