PARK CITY - From the first line of dialogue in John Michael McDonaugh's second feature "Calvary," it's clear we're in for a very compromised comedy indeed: as rural Irish priest Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits impassively in his dim confession booth, an unseen male parishioner bluntly says, "I first tasted semen when I was seven years old." The words are so ugly, so out of step with their serene surroundings, that a large proportion of the Sundance audience responded with a queasy laugh, as if it were a dirty joke cracked at a funeral. But it's no joke at a holy man's expense; it's an admission, and as its implications become clear, tied to the uncovered legacy of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, silence takes over.
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One of the coolest things to have seen take shape over my years covering the awards beat has been watching the program of Oscar-nominated short films find an outlet to the public through Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures' annual theatrical and, eventually, VOD showcase of the contenders. And they're more accessible than ever as, in addition to theatrical distribution on Jan. 31, they'll be available on things like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and DirecTV.
"Flowers in the Attic" attracts 6.1 million
That was Lifetime's best numbers for an original movie since "Steel Magnolias" in October 2012.
Chinese TV is blatantly ripping off "The Colbert Report's" opening credits
A show called "The Banquet" totally copied Colbert's opening -- see for yourself.
"Klondike" gets big numbers for Discovery
About 3.4 million watched last night's premiere, resulting in Discovery's best-ever Monday.
HBO's "Game of Thrones" exhibit is going around the world
The only two American stops this year are New York and Austin, as the traveling exhibit heads to Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Belfast.
Sherri Shepherd is the latest to apologize for anti-gay comments
Last week, "The View" star defended her view that homosexuality is a sin.
PARK CITY - Even with four critics reviewing movies it's hard to catch everything at a festival as big as Sundance. One movie that we'll be reviewing over the next few days is Edet Belzberg's new documentary "Watchers of the Sky." The film debuted last weekend in the U.S. documentary competition and follows four modern day humanitarians who all owe something to the legendary Raphael Lemkin, the man who first termed the word genocide (and that was just the beginning of his legacy).
PARK CITY - When you attend a festival like Sundance, one of the great things about it is the diversity of voices and styles and stories that you'll experience over the course of your stay. I love discovering filmmakers here, I love stumbling into small movies that I might otherwise never have seen, and I love the sheer range of human experience on display.
So of course the film I'm most excited to see while I'm here is about Indonesian guys kicking the holy hell out of each other.
I haven't exactly been shy about expressing just how excited I am for "The Raid 2" tonight at the Eccles theater. It was the first ticket I booked for the festival, and I built my entire schedule around it. Absolutely nothing is going to stand in the way of me being there for what I hope is a very special evening. They even announced a secret screening for tonight of what Sundance is calling a "major motion picture" that is coming out in theaters later this year from "a major filmmaker," and I didn't consider for a moment skipping tonight's "Raid 2" premiere. Hell, it could be my first movie premiering in that spot, and I'd still be at "The Raid 2."
Screenwriter Terence Winter, who last week was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," was just as confused by some of the reactions to his film as Leonardo DiCaprio was toward the end of the year. The hedonistic depiction of Wall Street excess had led some to question its moral standing, surmising that it seemed to take far too much delight in its depictions.
But that thin line is also partly the point. It's a film that shows you a good time and dares you to have fun with it, because it's a display of antics that appeal to base, primal desires in many ways. That having been said, the idea that anyone would take away from it the idea that it was meant to be a glorification was "sort of a head-scratcher" for Winter, he says. "You'd think it would go without saying, but anyone who would watch that behavior and want to emulate what's going on on screen has got a screw loose as far as I'm concerned."
PARK CITY - Going from the bruised beauty of Ana Lily Amirpour's "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" to the brutally silly majesty of the mockumentary vampires of "What We Do In The Shadows" only points up just how easy it is to start from similar places and still end up with very different movies.
Before the film began at the Egyptian, co-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi took the stage to talk about how the film came together. They said they were approached by the New Zealand Documentary Board about making this in 2010, asking them to look into the vampire population of Wellington. Sure enough, the opening logo for the film is for the NZDB, and they play the film as a fairly straight-faced documentary, but let's be clear: this is one of the silliest comedies I've seen in a while, and it is so packed with laughs that before they even got to the opening titles, my face was already sore.
PARK CITY, Utah - Keegan DeWitt is having a busy week. He wrote/co-wrote two Sundance film scores, for "Land Ho!" and "Listen Up Philip"; his band Wild Cub released its Mom + Pop Records debut "Youth" today; and they're performing on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to celebrate. The Nashville-based writer and composer is hitting up spots like the KCRW lounge and the BMI songwriters' roundtable to discuss his work throughout the week in Park City for the Film Festival.
We caught up yesterday (Jan. 20), touching on his transition from performing under his own name to playing as a band project. I liked DeWitt's approach to this idea of stripping songs of a face, of a first and last name and a preconception of "white guys with guitars" that overrun his adoptive home base.
He also went into detail on his new scores, like for "Land Ho!": "... As though it was a late 1980s movie being scored by a top 40 band."
Sundance is a return for DeWitt, who helmed the sounds for last year's selections "Life According to Sam" and "This Is Martin Bonner." He also scored the Oscar Award-winning short documentary “Inocente" (2013). Successful formula he suggests to composers in the field is to go to festivals, see a lot of movies, stay for the Q&A, talk to the filmmakers and "make friends."
Check out our full interview above.
"The Great Gatsby" turned out to be a bone of contention between director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer and production designer Catherine Martin. He had loved F. Scott Fitzgerald's book for many years, while it didn't exactly bowl her over when she first read it as a teenager in Australia. As a 15-year-old, it alienated her, and she couldn't quite understand the central love story.
"Ellen" to become the 1st American talk show to be shown regularly in China
The video website Sohu has picked up Ellen's talk show, and Ellen jokingly says it'll be renamed "The Happy Lady Dance Hour." PLUS: Ellen gives interviewing tips to Seth Meyers.
Opera star Renee Fleming to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl
Fleming will become the first opera star to sing the National Anthem before a Super Bowl.
"Sleepy Hollow" season finale was No. 1 for Monday night
The Fox drama's season finale tied fellow freshman "The Blacklist" in the 18-49 demo.
Esquire apologizes for "A Straight Man's Guide to HBO's Looking"
An Esquire article published yesterday said of "Looking," "It commits the heinous sin of being gay and boring."
Check out Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones' final "Parks and Rec"
Here are images from "Ann and Chris," which airs next week. PLUS: Jim O'Heir was stunned by the early pickup.
PBS animates Carol Burnett
The animated interview series Blank on Blank has adapted a 2003 Burnett interview.