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The Lucky 13: Anticipated Films of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

January 3, 2014

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It’s January and you know what that means? Sundance month! For my third year, I’ll be returning to the Sundance Film Festival to do my annual volunteer work at the MARC theater, and while I’m there I’ll be reviewing some of the latest films of the fest. Hopefully I can squeeze in a few interviews here and there. You never know.

In the mean time, these are my Lucky 13 most anticipated films to hit the festival:

13. “They Came Together” – Directed by comedian-vet David Wain (“Role Models”, “Wanderlust”), who debuted the cult Sundance classic “Wet Hot American Summer” back in 2001, now in 2014 he returns with “They Came Together”, a homage to the romantic comedies of American cinema. Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd star alongside many past collaborators of Wain’s. From what I’ve heard, the film treats its audience to absurdly hilarious cameos at every turn. Very exciting!

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12. “Frank” – See the weirdo in the ceramic head down below? That’s Michael Fassbender playing the leader of an Irish pop-techno band. From what I’ve gathered he’ll be wearing this strange piece of head gear for the entire 95 minute runtime. To me, it looks like “Frank” will pay homage to Daft Punk, more or less.

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11. “Young Ones” – Gwyneth Paltrow’s younger brother Jake returns with his sophomore feature, about a future where water is scarce, and the entire planet is nearly all dried up. Michael Shannon plays Ernest Holm, a father who works the supply routes, hopes to rejuvenate the soil, and defends his farm from vicious bandits. Michael Shannon is pure AWESOME in just about anything, and getting to be in the same room as him will be quite enthralling. I need to think of a good question.

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10. “God’s Pocket” – “Mad Men”‘s John Slattery makes his directing debut in a film that stars two of the best working dramatic actors of today, Richard Jenkins and Philip Seymour Hoffman. A construction death leads to an investigation of conspiracy and cover ups in this gritty New York crime tale. I’m a major fan of both lead actors, and the supporting players aren’t too shabby, including Christina Hendricks & John Turturro.

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9. “Locke” – On the biggest day of his career, Ivan Locke receives a  call that threatens to destroy the life he has worked so hard to create. As he struggles to keep his world intact, he is forced to confront his imperfections and the fractured foundation where they are rooted.

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8. “Jamie Marks is Dead” – The films description on the Sundance page caught my attention: Jamie Marks is found by the river. Adam, the star of his cross-country team, becomes fascinated with Jamie—a boy nobody really knew or interacted with, except occasionally to bully him. When Jamie’s ghost begins to appear both to Adam and Gracie, the classmate who discovered the body, Adam is caught between two worlds. He has a budding romance with Gracie, but he also feels a deep connection to Jamie, who brings him closer to the world of the undead. I am so there for this!

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7. “Whiplash” – Miles Teller is certainly gaining momentum as the new Sundance kid to look out for, he stars alongside J.K. Simmons about a 19-year-0ld learning to play the drums from a brutally savage music instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. A coming of age story where blood, sweat, and tears erupt from hardcore jamming.

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6. “Happy Christmas” – It’s Christmas time at Sundance in this Joe Swanberg written & directed feature, starring the likes of Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Swanberg himself. The film focuses on complicated family interactions during Christmas time. Relatable? I’m sure you’ll find common ground in this film when it comes out next Holiday season.

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5. “Life After Beth” – Things have gotten a little complicated for Zach and Beth’s relationship, but Zach is willing to make it work, even if Beth is a zombie. Starring Dane DeHaan & Aubrey Plaza, with John C. Reilly & Cheryl Hines.

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4. “Wish I Was Here” – It’s been 10 years since Zach Braff debuted his first directorial feature, “Garden State”. Now he returns with this Kickstarter success project, “Wish I Was Here”, a surreal dramedy about a pot-smoking slacker of an actor/dad who decides to infuse a unique imaginative vision for his flawed children.

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3. “Cooties” – The cooties are real kids! And apparently it transforms bratty little elementary children into feral cannibalistic monsters. This hilariously/horrific satire are one of the many twisted films to premiere at Sundance at midnight, and with the exception of “Dead Snow 2”, this is one of the midnight premieres I’m hyping for the most. Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, and Nasim Pedrad star as the faculty, ironic in Elijah’s case.

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2. “The Trip To Italy” – I LOVED Michael Winterbottoms “The Trip”, it was one of my top favorite films of 2011, and now Winterbottom reunites British comics Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon, as they take another holiday, this time to Italy, as they visit the locations of famous Italian Romantics, eat fine foods, and parody ‘terrible-Christian Bale Batman voices’.

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1. “The Raid 2: Berandal” – The biggest, and most action packed movie to hit Sundance premieres the day I leave! FUCK! I’m so fucking pissed that I’ll miss “The Raid 2”, and even though I won’t be able to see it, that doesn’t mean I can anticipate it. Who knows, maybe the Volunteer screener before the festival will indeed be the film, fingers crossed kids. Check out this intense trailer:

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