Sundance picks top flicks

Tom Andrew

Nestled amongst Wasatch Mountains, usually covered in a thick blanket of snow, is the quaint town of Park City, Utah and is the home of actor/director Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival.

The festival runs annually for two weeks and showcases the works of filmmakers around the country. All types of films are represented over the two weeks including short films, documentaries, and feature films.

Sundance gives many filmmakers the chance to screen their films with the hopes of them being purchased by film companies, and then having them widely distributed to theatres across the country.

One such film was “500 Days of Summer,” a big hit at last year’s festival. This year, many films had high hopes, but not all lived up to their hype.

“The Company Men” starring Kevin Costner, Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones was one of the films that had high expectations but seemed to fall to the wayside quickly after its first viewing. Others featuring stars like Bill Murray in the film “Get Low,” Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in “The Runaways,” and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in “Jack Goes Boating” kept theatres full and viewers happy.

The first film to be picked up was the “Buried,” starring Ryan Reynolds, which follows the claustrophobic story of Paul Conroy (Reynolds) who has been buried alive with only a cell phone and a lighter. This film, part of the Park City at Midnight series, was just one of the films that generated considerable buzz. A few others were “Frozen,” where 3 college students are left stranded on a ski lift, only to realize that the resort has closed and there is a threat of an oncoming snow storm, and “High School,” a comedy about a high school valedictorian who schemes with a slacker pothead student to pass a mandatory drug test, by getting the entire student body stoned. “The Perfect Host,” a thriller starring “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce as the consummate dinner party host, who may not be as perfect as he seems to be, also received considerable buzz.

The festival began in 1978 in Salt Lake City, but was moved to Park City in 1981, and was renamed the Sundance Film Festival after Redford’s character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

The town of Park City, Utah is transformed into a filmmakers haven, where actors, writers, producers, directors, and patrons alike stand in line, walk, run, and huddle in the cold to catch a glimpse of what next film will make it big. It is an event NOT to be missed.

Look for reviews of festival films “The Extra Man,” starring Kevin Kline, “The Dry Land,” starring “Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrera, and “Obselidia,” from director Diane Bell in upcoming issues.