By Gregg Goldstein gcgoldstein@yahoo.com

Sundance Sales Chart Day Three

by Gregg Goldstein

Film Section Sales
Co
Odds Pros Cons First
Screening
Today’s Top Five
I Love You Phillip Morris Prem CAA/
End
2:1 A Carrey/McGregor prison romance from writers of “Bad Santa” First-time helmers tackle subject matter that could go very wrong in the wrong hands. 1/18, 9:30p, Eccles
Push: Based on the
novel by Sapphire
DrComp Cin 2:1 Standing O for audacious portrait of abused girl; vivid performances by Mo’Nique and wacky supporting cast (Mariah Carey, Sherry Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz) How much of the rapturous response is the Sundance effect? And how do you sell it? 1/16, 8p, Racquet Club
Spread Prem CAA/
End
2:1 Gigolo satire from sexpert helmer of “Young Adam” How many good Ashton Kutcher or Anne Heche comedies can you name? 1/17, 9:15p, Eccles
Humpday DrComp Sub 3:1 Straight best buds link for gay porn; those who loved it really have a hard-on for it No stars, a premise not for the squeamish, and failed to turn some on 1/16, 12:15p, Eccles
The September Issue Doc Comp CAA 3:1 Rare inside look at the alleged inspiration for “The Devil Wear’s Prada,” Vogue’s Anna Wintour; great early buzz from SLC screening Sellers still have to convince buyers it’s as theatrical as its subject 1/16, 6:30p, Rose Wagner
Other Narratives In Play
An Education World DrComp CAA 4:1 ’60s coming-of-age romance from scribe Nick Hornby with Sarsgaard, Molina, Thompson and a breakout Mulligan Subject matter too familiar and trite if not done right 1/18, 3p, Egyptian
Arlen Faber Dr Comp CAA/
ICM
4:1 Daniels, Graham, Pucci in romantic tale of reclusive author Might be too navel-gazing or quirky for its own good 1/18, 5:15p, Racquet Club
Brooklyn’s Finest Prem WM/
CAA
4:1 Gere, Cheadle, Hawke, Snipes, Barkin in cop drama from “Training Day” director. Supposedly a few solid offers, and editing could continue Not the feel-good film of the year. Audience liked sections of it, hated others. 1/16, 6:15p. Eccles
Cold Souls DrComp Cin 4:1 Giamatti, Strathairn, Watson, Ambrose in a unique “metaphysical tragi-comedy” Yes. A metaphysical tragi-comedy 1/17, 5:15p, Racquet Club
The Greatest DrComp End/
CAA
4:1 Tearjerker with Brosnan and Sarandon called “as fine a debut as we can present” Son dies in car accident; it better be a satisfying cry 1/17, 3:15p, Eccles
In The Loop Premieres Prot 4:1 James Gandolfini in satire of war and politics could be a sleeper hit; word-of-mouth building from pre-fest screening Small, filled with unknown Brits and distinctly British humour 1/19, 11:15a, Yarrow
Motherhood Premieres End 4:1 Harried-mom comedy with Thurman, Edwards, Driver Urban anxiety can make for anxious audiences 1/21, 9:30p, Eccles
Paper Heart DrComp UTA 4:1 Two words: Michael Cera. Possibly offbeat hit Muted response to screener making rounds 1/17, 8p, Racquet Club
The Winning Season Premieres Cin 4:1 Female “Bad News Bears” centering on high school basketball team, Emma Roberts, late add like top-seller “Hamlet 2″ Sam Rockwell films sell big at Sundance, but haven’t performed. James Strouse a Sundance fave … but not for comedy 1/19, 8:30p, Library
World’s Greatest Dad Spectrum CAA/
Cin
4:1 Robin Williams in another dark comedy from “Sleeping Dogs Lie” writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait Williams sometimes a selling point, sometimes a liability 1/18, 5:30p, Library
Big Fan DrComp Andr
Hur
5:1 Good buzz on sports fanatic spoof directed by “The Wrestler” scribe … … who also wrote “The Onion Movie.” Star Patton Oswalt an unproven commodity 1/18, 8p, Racquet Club
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Dr Comp CAA 5:1 Hot star John Krasinski directing, starring and adapting from David Foster Wallace novel Adaptations are tricky, and not every sitcom star is Zach Braff. Slot after heated sales lineup weekend 1/19, 3:15p. Eccles
Endgame Prem End 5:1 Good cast (Hurt, Ejiofor) in South African apartheid thriller CNN currently chock full of other real-life political thrillers 1/18, 6:16p, Eccles
Five Minutes of Heaven World DrComp UTA 5:1 Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and director of “Downfall” Violence in Northern Ireland. Good times. 1/19, 6:30p, Egyptian
The Killing Room Mid CAA 5:1 Psychological thriller with compelling premise and solid indie cast slayed some audience members … … while others feel it’s a pretentious “Saw”; could middling response kill its chances? 1/16, 11:30a, Prospector
Peter & Vandy DrComp End 5:1 Some good buzz behind Manhattan romance with Sundance “Teeth” award-winner Weixler Stage adaptations risk being stagey; Star Ritter must live down last year’s “Good Dick” 1/19, 8p, Racquet Club
Shrink Premieres WM 5:1 “In Treatment” has proven the appeal of therapy dramas Spacey’s star power has shrunk; Hollywood inside baseball? 1/18, 11:15a, Yarrow
Dare DrComp xCin 6:1 Sex-charged teen romance featuring Emmy Rossum Supporting cast (Gasteyer, Cumming, Bernhard) from many an indie stinker 1/19, 5:15p, Racquet Club
The Messenger Premieres UTA 7:1 Talented scribe Oren Moverman’s directing debut Another Iraq war drama; Ben Foster, Harrelson have spotty track records 1/19, 9:30p, Eccles
Amreeka Dr Comp WM 8:1 Sometimes humorous, very topical struggle of Palestinian mom on West Bank No stars, Iraq war backdrop … it better be great 1/17, 12:15p, Eccles
Black Dynamite Mid End 8:1 Blaxploitation satire with potential for cult following Too culty for its own good? 1/18, 11:30p, Library
Helen Spectrum Little 10:1 Ashley Judd sinks her teeth into bipolar role, and can sell some ancillary Seems to be depressing buyers, and audience response is tepid 1/16, 8:45, Library
Manure Premieres v 10:1 Thornton, Leoni, McLachlan in what could be the Polish Bros’ Coen Bros moment with a ’60s period comedy Polish Bros artiness sometimes overwhelms all else 1/20, 9:30p, Eccles
Mary & Max Opening Night Icon 10:1 Quirky Aussie claymation from Oscar-winning director good enough to attract Hoffman and Collette Too quirky for many at the opening night screening, garnering mixed reactions 1/15, 6p, Eccles
Mystery Team Midnight Sub 10:1 Potential sleeper with foul-mouthed teens; could hit right chord… …or extremely wrong one. Online trailer looks iffy; no-name cast 1/17, 11:30p, Library
Toe To Toe DrComp WM 10:1 Complicated relationship between two female high school teammates; interracial issues a hot topic Early buzz not looking good, but many have yet to weigh in 1/16, 3:15p, Eccles
The Vicious Kind Spectrum ICM 10:1 Tough portrait of emotionally damaged father See “Pros” 1/17, 8:30p, Library
Don’t Let Me Drown DrComp Loeb
Loeb
20:1 Latino high schoolers in post-9/11 romantic drama No stars, depressing premise 1/18, 12:15p, Eccles
Other Documentaries In Play
The Carter Midnight Cin 4:1 One of the hottest selling rappers in a hurting music biz, Lil’ Wayne Will the audience for this film go to the theater or wait for DVD? 1/17, Midnight Eccles
When You’re Strange Doc Comp Sub/
Cin
6:1 Indie vet Tom DiCillo unveils all-original footage of The Doors Video sales assured, but will it break on through to theatrical? Some industry office screener feedback less than stellar 1/17, 9p, Temple
Good Hair Doc Comp ICM 5:1 If every black hair magazine reader buys a ticket to producer/star Chris Rock’s comic, celeb-filled take on the topic, it’s a hit. Interest in niche topic could be hair today, gone tomorrow 1/18, 9p, Temple
Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy Spectrum WM 5:1 Robert Townsend interviews a Who’s Who of top comedians. The next Kings of Comedy? Maybe be too long on analysis, too short on laughs 1/17, 5:30p, Prospector
Passing Strange Spectrum: Docu Spotlight End 5:1 Spike Lee filmed this unconventional, Tony-nominated musical, and both names will help sell the project: some good initial word Still has to show its theatrical pull 1/16, 2:30p, Library
Reporter Doc Comp Films
Trans
6:1 A New York Times reporter’s valiant attempt to put an African crisis on the map speaks volumes about the state of journalism today Most political docs have had a tough boxoffice ride 1/16, 9:30p, Temple
We Live In Public Doc Comp Sub/
Cin
6:1 Stranger than fiction dot-com boom art experiment from Web entrepreneur Must rise above Discovery Channel audience interest to sell 1/19, 6p, Temple
The Cove Doc Comp Sub/
WM
8:1 Fascination with dolphins may propel sale of this dark tale Animal Planet shows wade in similar waters 1/18, 3p, Temple
No Impact Man Spectrum: Docu Spotlight Cin 8:1 Family undertakes controversial experiment to live a year with no carbon footprint; could tap “An Inconvenient Truth” audience Another inconvenient truth: many socially conscious docs have no theatrical impact 1/16, 11:30a, Library
Art & Copy Doc Comp Sub 6:1 Ad industry study getting good word of mouth; could it be this year’s “Helvetica?” Amidst interest, some are questioning commercial appeal 1/16, 5:30p, Prospector
Big River Man World Doc Comp Salt 20:1 Slovenian man’s attempt at record swim could be Michael Phelps meets “Grizzly Man” No waves just yet. 1/16, 3:15p, HV4

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“A shot is a story. A shot on its own should be a piece of a story. Which is why I talk a lot about watching films, even the films we’re working on, with the sound off. Just to analyze how the film works, because a film should work for an audience without any sound. The biggest problem I see is that someone may have a superficial understanding of what a shot is propositionally, but they don’t have an understanding of how all of these shots are part of a family that needs to connect, and so you’ll get something that’s like a sentence arranged poorly with six nouns in a row. That surprises me, because I think that’s something that can be learned. Some things can’t be, but that can. It’s a grammar. In a classroom I could walk somebody through the difference between a sequence in which the filmmaker has a deep understanding of how images connect, and someone who doesn’t. It’s not really an intellectual process. Some people are just born with it and are just sort of savants at that deep mathematical understanding of shot construction.  I’m better than I used to be, but there are some people I’m just never going to catch. Spielberg. His staging ability. I’m never going to catch him. But when you’re trying to figure out how to get better—I’m not competitive in the sense of looking around at other filmmakers and comparing myself to them. What I do have to think about in trying to navigate myself through a career is: what can I get better at, and what do I have that I can enhance that somebody else doesn’t have?”
~ Steven Soderbergh

“It’s not going to be huge. He and I had been corresponding for a while. When I finally met him, he said, ‘We should collaborate.’ When John Ashbery says that to you, you don’t say when, you just say yes. It has not been easy to conjure this out of nothing. Sean Price Williams and I spent time with him, and it will appear on FilmStruck before the year is out…. I have figured out how to streamline things. I still have dreams of making movies with bigger budgets, and they might be considered to have more of a voice in pop culture. I don’t want to let go of that. I also realize that you grow up a lot of your life with wishful thinking and waiting. I have figured out ways to avoid doing that. I am working on a bigger movie about Nikola Tesla, set in the past, so it is not an easy film to make. I am also working on an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s ‘White Noise.’ That seems more likely to catch fire.”
Michael Almereyda Steps It Up