Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Marking the feature directorial debut of David Lowery, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints follows Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), two young outlaw lovers who, in true Bonnie and Clyde fashion, are wreaking havoc in rural Texas. Four years after being arrested, Muldoon breaks out of prison to find his lost love and their daughter he’s never laid eyes on—only to discover that Guthrie has given up the outlaw racket and settled down with a sheriff, played by Ben Foster, from their past. The film marks Mara’s first onscreen appearance since her stellar, Oscar-nominated turn as punk-hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
the third movie in filmmaker Richard Linklater’s triptych, following Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight takes place nine years after the previous, Paris-set film. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a Frenchwoman, cross paths once again in Greece and, after sharing their thoughts on life, love, death, and everything in between, have until midnight to decide if they want to be a lasting part of each other’s lives. The previous entry, 2004’s Before Sunset, was a heartbreaking love story that received universal critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Don Jon’s Addiction
In addition to emceeing this year’s festival awards ceremony, indie darling–cum–Hollywood megastar Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s wowed Sundance audiences with past gems Brick and (500) Days of Summer, will unveil his debut feature behind the camera, Don Jon’s Addiction. Written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, the film stars the dimpled actor as Jon “Don Jon” Martello, a porn-obsessed, modern-day Don Juan who beds a revolving door of women. One day, the disillusioned lothario decides to go on a journey in search of a more meaningful sex life and is shown the light by a pair of different women, played by Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.
The closing-night film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, jOBS, is directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and tells the real-life tale of the late Steve Jobs’s rise from college dropout to co-founder and CEO of Apple, and his transformation into one of the most legendary and endlessly creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century. In a controversial choice, the title role of Jobs is played by actor-entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher, who is joined by The Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad as Jobs’s cohort Steve Wozniak. This film is not to be confused with Sony Pictures’s upcoming Jobs biopic being scripted by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network).
Kill Your Darlings
Marking the feature-filmmaking debut of writer-director John Krokidas, Kill Your Darlings tells the real-life tale of David Kammerer’s (Michael C. Hall) murder by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) in 1944. Kammerer, an English professor and childhood friend of William S. Burroughs, had allegedly been pursuing the younger Carr, a prominent Beat Generation member, for quite some time. The shocking murder draws together Beat poets Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). The film marks another entry in Radcliffe’s post–Harry Potter oeuvre, and also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Filmmaking duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl) have crafted this biopic chronicling the rough-and-tumble life of Linda Boreman—better known by her stage name, Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried). The film’s story, told in flashbacks via a trio of interviews, follows the titular porn star’s life from the ages of 20 to 32, including her rapid ascent to ’70s porn icon, manipulation by her abusive husband-manager (played by Peter Sarsgaard), and reinvention in the ’80s as a conservative religious crusader. James Franco, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, and Sharon Stone round out the movie’s impressive ensemble cast.
Pussy Riot—A Punk Prayer
Filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin have made a documentary chronicling one of the biggest news stories of the past year: the plight of the Russian feminist punk-rock outfit Pussy Riot, which has attracted support from musical celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Madonna. Known for staging guerrilla performances in public locations, obscuring their faces with multicolored balaclavas, and performing protest songs targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, the band held an anti-Putin event in a cathedral in Central Moscow last Feb. 21. As a result, three of the group’s members were eventually charged with hooliganism and, in late October, two of them were sentenced to do time in remote Russian prisons.
Korean filmmaking maestro Park Chan-wook, whose 2003 revenge saga Oldboy is a cult classic, tries his hand at an English-language movie with the psychological thriller Stoker. Written by actor turned screenwriter Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), the creepy film follows India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) who, along with her volatile mother, played by Nicole Kidman, is grieving the loss of her father—that is, until her bizarre uncle (Matthew Goode) decides to move in with the family. India finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and more than a little suspicious of his motives. The film has already been picked up for distribution and will be released by Fox Searchlight on March 1.
The World According to Dick Cheney
There have been few U.S. political figures in recent memory more divisive than Dick Cheney, the 46th vice president of the United States under George W. Bush. And the smirking, bullish politician is finally given the documentary treatment by directors R.J. Cutler and Greg Finton’s documentary, The World According to Dick Cheney. This in-depth exploration of the controversial politician’s life, career, and relationships includes a series of sit-down interviews with Cheney, as well as his closest friends, all to reveal, as the film says, “How did Dick Cheney become the singlemost powerful nonpresidential figure in American history?”
In the wake of her stellar mumblecore-ish films Humpday, about two guys who engage in a game of macho one-upsmanship, and Your Sister’s Sister, which chronicles a ménage-à-trois gone awry, writer-director Lynn Shelton has fast become an institution of sorts at Sundance. Her films, imbued with droll, improvised, and naturalistic dialogue, are always a pleasure. Shelton’s latest, Touchy Feely, reunites the director with Your Sister’s Sister star Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays a massage therapist who finds her job in jeopardy when she develops a strange aversion to bodily contact. The movie also stars Ellen Page, Allison Janney, and Ron Livingston.
Filmmaker Shane Carruth’s 2004 film Primer, about a scientist who accidentally creates—and then exploits—a time-travel mechanism, was made on a shoestring budget of $7,000 and won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. After working on the time-travel sequences for Looper, Carruth will unveil his highly anticipated follow-up, Upstream Color. According to the film’s synopsis, after being drugged by a thief, a woman is “unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again” and, after joining forces with a fellow human being, must struggle to survive.
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)
Set In Kabul, Afghanistan, Barmak Akram’s film follows a charming waiter, Mustafa (Mustafa Habibi), who wins over a pretty young student, Wajma (Wajma Bahar). The two soon embark on a secretive relationship, well aware of the stringent social barriers they’re breaking. Wajma’s world turns upside down, however, when she discovers she is pregnant. The secret soon gets out and Wajma, fearful that her lover won’t commit to marrying her, has nowhere else to turn but to her conservative, highly conflicted father. The film is said to provide a captivating portrait of contemporary dating mores and the role of middle-class women in Afghanistan.
We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who has explored issues ranging from financial scandal (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and war crimes (Taxi to the Dark Side) to most recently, sexual abuse in the Catholic Church (Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, out next month on HBO), will focus his inquisitive lens on the clandestine organization WikiLeaks— known for publishing classified information on the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and Guantánamo Bay—and its exiled, debonair founder, Julian Assange. Assange apparently gave Gibney full access, and the project has his blessing; he reportedly even allowed the filmmaker to attend Assange’s 40th-birthday bash.