The 2014 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last month. Amongst the films screened included the hotly anticipated The Raid 2, which received overwhelmingly positive praise from critics and audiences alike. Needless to say, we’re all huge fans of 2011’s The Raid and are unabashedly excited for the sequel, which hits theatres in April. But it wasn’t all about The Raid 2, so here are our picks of the Sundance films we’re most looking forward to seeing in 2014.
Undoubtedly the most intriguing film showcased at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater. It chronicles one boy’s journey to becoming an adult across a twelve year period, but with one crucial idiosyncrasy. Linklater disposed with traditional prosthetics and voice technologies, choosing instead to film his subject over a real-time twelve year span. Having made a single short film every year since 2002, material has been compiled to create a form of cinematographic time-lapse. It will be fascinating to see this change happening before us and especially how actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, both of whom are ‘Linklater veterans’ and who shall play the boy’s parents, interact with their constantly changing on-screen son. Linklater’s proven track record of successful films which focus on everyday bizarreness and feature, in particular, pertinent examinations of Generation X ensures us that this wildly ambitious project is in safe hands.
20,000 Days On Earth
The acclaimed and award winning 20,000 Days On Earth is outwardly a documentary concerning legendary bad seed Nick Cave’s titular event. However, nothing could be so dull and straightforward for the consummate ‘alternative’ figure; the jack of all trades (musician, author, screenwriter, composer and actor), like an Australian Takeshi Kitano, has managed to work successfully within numerous fields with an idiosyncratic flair for decades. This cinematic excursion looks to be as equally multidimensional as that collected work.
Taking a more poetic form than most documentaries dare to, 20,000 Days drifts betwixt such unusual scenarios as Cave supposedly playing the more extravagant and beloved version of himself he presents on his 25+ albums, exploring his home archive and the novel notion of ruminating on life with a psychoanalyst. Most intriguing look to be the scenes of his driving around his adopted hometown Brighton, whereby he finds travelling companions in Ray Winstone and Kylie as well as founding Bad Seed member Blixa Bargeld. Reputedly the first encounter between the two former band-mates in ten years, this meeting, like the film itself, promises to be something special.
Frank is a film that is going to cause many cinema goers to shy-away from it on reading the synopsis, but bear with it, it is a highly well crafted and comedic piece. A young keyboard player joins an experimental pop band and becomes intrigued by the puzzling mystery of the group’s leader, who is only seen in a giant papermaché head. It is bizarrely in keeping with Sundance’s ability to attract experimental narratives. Yet, even so, it has been described by one critic as “unlike anything you’ve seen in recent memory”. It may be difficult for the average cinema-goer to get their head around the quirky and absurd story. However, for adventurous viewers willing to experience an original piece, Frank is not to be missed. Furthermore, this film is inspired by Jon Ronson’s (The Men Who Stare At Goats) experiences on the Manchurian music scene, particularly with musician Chris Sievey. Somehow, the cast seems at odds with the film’s fresh style, attracting well known names and standout performances from Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson. At best it offers standout performances from both Gyllenhaal and the undercover Fassbender, at worst it may lose you a few times.
Love Is Strange
Alfred Molina and John Lithgow star as Ben and George, a gay couple living in New York, who after being together for four decades finally decide to tie the knot. But the occasion is soured when George is fired from his job at a private Catholic school. Unable to pay the rent, the couple are forced to give up their apartment and live apart for the first time in forty years. Love Is Strange has received mostly positive praise with critics, in particular for the exceptional performances by Molina and Lithgow. Less of an expose of the injustices faced by homosexual couples but more of an exploration of marriage in general, that should appeal to audiences beyond the gay community. Love Is Strange was acquired by Sony Picture Classics so look out for it in theatres sometime this year.