Moviehole at Sundance – Day 1

Sundance ’06 Boasts Eclectic Line Up


Sundance ’06 Boasts Eclectic Line Up.
Paul Fischer checks out the first few days of Sunance 2006.

The snow is falling a little heavier than usual but the white landscape masks a more intense and frenetic atmosphere. As one closes into Park City the cell phones can already be heard with mutterings of would be deal makers bemoaning which actor has yet to sign for the next movie. Nothing changes as one slogs through the snow checking in for my 11th Sundance, full of expectations at the hope of seeing an undiscovered morsel such as a Squid and the Whale. One can live in hope.

Opening night was a perfect Sundance with Nicole Holofcener’s wry and sublime comedy drama Friends with Money featuring sterling work from a first rate ensemble. Pic revolves around a quartet of friends each with a demon or two to exorcise, some more than most. The black sheep of the group is Jennifer Aniston as a pot smoking ex teacher working as a maid unlucky in love. Aniston is a revelation here displaying an emotional resonance we rarely see from her in her studio movies. Catherine Keener also shines as a screenwriter dealing with a difficult marriage. Holofcener has an astute ear for dialogue and directs her richly human script with a crisp no nonsense style focusing on character and the realitý of our own human foibles. Dealing with marriage, relationships and friendship in Los Angeles, Friends with Money is exquisitely crafted and a joy to watch a formidable group of actors at the very top of their game. This is an absolute must when Sony Classics releases the film soon.

“Lucky Number Slevin” is one of those films that miraculously creeps up on you and entangles you in an unexpected brilliance. What begins as a series of graphic murders develops into a sly and darkly comic masterpiece enhanced by sublime work on the parts of Josh Hartnett at his best, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis and a fabulous Ben Kingsley. Hartnett plays a down on his luck guy mistaken for a gambler whose debts land him in bed with two unique gangsters. But here is a film where nothing and nobody are what they seem as it weaves its way through several ingenious twists and turns. At times bloody and sexy, Slevin is a stunning comic thriller, a full throttle gem that is destined for xommercial greatness. The Weinstein Co will release the film in the US in March. Here is another must see out of Sundance.

Also caught another fabulous film, the deliriously engaging “Kinky Boots”. Set in the north of London, Australia’s Joel Edgerton stars as a young man who inherits his late father’s shoe factory. On the verge of closure, a chance encounter with a vivacious drag queen changrs both of their lives in the most unexpected way. A beautifully crafted film that is hilarious and equally touching, Miramax has a sure fire hit on its hand.

The last time Joel Edgerton came to Sundance was 10 years ago an up and comer hanging out wity his friends. This time he has 3 films here and when I caught up with him shorrly after seeing him in “Kinky Boots” he admits surprise to his renewed success helped by “King Arthur”. Joel told me that he and his brother have written a script together whuch is a thriller due to start shooting un Australia in July. Nice to see the Aussies do well.

As Sundance continues tomorrow I talk to Toni Collette about her latest films here and check out the likes of Sherrybaby.