Director: Jeff Orlowski
Cast: James Balog
In under 80 minutes, Jeff Orlowski’s documentary Chasing Ice manages to capture something that disaster movies have been trying to for years: the colossal, beautiful and horrifying destruction of our planet. It makes The Day After Tomorrow look like Trumpton.
Using still photography and staggering video footage, he follows the gradual annihilation of glaciers around the globe due to climate change. The results are jaw-dropping, easily eclipsing any amount of Hollywood CGI. If Roland Emmerich saw it, he would probably pee his pants.
(Update: This film is so good that now even my nephew has been inspired to write a review of it. To see my writing outclassed by a seven year old, click here.)
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt
For a film called Nobody Walks, there’s quite a lot of walking. No jetpacks. No hover cars. Not even a pogo stick.
The title of Ry Russo-Young’s drama refers to the place in which it’s set: Los Angeles, where nobody walks – presumably because they’re too busy having sex. Into this anti-pedestrian town strolls Martine (Thirlby), a young student finishing an art project. She stays with Peter (Krasinski), Julie (DeWitt) and their family. She’s an outsider. And, like all outsiders who enter a loving home, she proceeds to screw everything up. Literally.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson
“WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed.”
How would you react to that classified ad?
Journalist Jeff (Johnson) thinks it’s a good source for a magazine article. Downtrodden journo intern Darius (Plaza) hopes it might be true. Equally exploited unpaid worker Arnau (Soni) thinks the guy is insane. When writer Derek Connolly saw the classified, he thought it would be a great idea for a movie. Director Colin Trevorrow agreed.
In a way, all of them are right.
“I make films for myself, but I try to respect the audience at all times.”
So Yong Kim is a quiet person. The kind of filmmaker who’s too shy to speak up a panel discussing independent cinema and insists that she doesn’t sit through a screening of her own film – or at least sits somewhere near the door so she can run away without anyone noticing.
But the director, who lives with her husband – also a filmmaker – in the US, has been a Sundance regular ever since she started out with a video camera and no money in 2006. After returning to Utah this year with For Ellen, the tale of a washed-up rock musician Joby (Paul Dano) trying to connect with his daughter before he loses custody completely, So Yong Kim has come to Sundance London to share her low-key, moving drama.
Here’s what she had to say to us about funding, filming and Paul Dano’s secret dance moves.
Director: So Yong Kim
Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Shaylena Mandigo
A man and a young girl sit together at a table. He has long, straggly hair. She has a blue coat. They say nothing. Every now and then, he strokes his pathetic excuse for a beard. Then, she leans forward. "Why did you not come see me before?"
A quiet, moving film, For Ellen follows Joby's (Dano) attempt to connect with his daughter, Ellen (Mandigo), before he loses her completely. He's a washed-up rock musician. He hasn't visited home since she was born. He's about to sign divorce papers that will see his wife, Claire, take full custody of her. Ellen, meanwhile, is - well, what?
He knows absolutely nothing about her. He tries, awkwardly, to find out. She doesn't like ice cream. She doesn't like school. What does she like? Does she like him?
Director: Terence Nance
Cast: Alisa Becher, Jc Cain, Dexter Jones
Terence Nance’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is an experimental film. Taking footage from an existing film made by Nance in 2010, titled How Would You Feel?, the director layers it with animation and a seductive baritone narrator, who promises to add factual context to the events on screen.
A boy expects a girl to come round to his house. She phones him to say that she won’t be coming round. He feels bad. Then it starts all over again.
Looping the scenario over and over, Nance treats us to occasionally interesting visuals and constant monologuing, as the boy’s increasingly neurotic concerns about his feelings become increasingly neurotic about his feelings, which become increasingly neurot– you get the idea. Yes, the idea behind the project is interesting, but only for about 11 seconds.
"I don’t think you ever have to grow up. You just have to stop being an asshole."
Wise words from the bearded bundle of cheerful neuroses that is Josh Radnor, the man who met your mother, made a film called Liberal Arts and brought it all the way to England for Sundance London. Chatting to us before and after the UK premiere of his campus mid-life crisis comedy, he explains what it's like to go back to your old university, the difference between acting on TV and writing/directing your own film, and why Elizabeth Olsen is so amazing.
Here's what he had to say:
Chris Morris' controversial new comedy is currently storming its way through Sundance. But for us over here is a chance to catch a quick glimpse of the potentially inspired Jihadist satire.
Following The Day Today, Blue Jam and, of course, Brass Eye is no mean feat - especially if you want to offend as many people as possible. But hey, judging from these few minutes of hilarity, Chris Morris has done it again.
The titular quartet are a cell of incompetent terrorists planning a large domestic attack. For this, they need bleach. Cue a bizarrely brilliant discussion as to how best to buy it inconspicuously from the corner shop. So keep reading, start watching and run away telling people all about it.