Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
Interstellar Review
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Empire Blogs
Words From The Wise

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 3

Posted on Wednesday January 23, 2013, 20:45 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 3

The female-directed comedies at this year's Sundance have been a marked improvement on previous years, and I will skate over the unendurable Ass Backwards – another spin on the Romy & Michelle formula, this time with two dim-witted best friends revisiting the beauty-pageant world of their childhood – to get to the really rather wonderful In A World.... Written by and starring Lake Bell, this small but very charming comedy takes place in the competitive world of Hollywood vocal talents, and begins with a tribute to the king of voiceover artists Don LaFontaine, who died in 2008. From here, we meet Carol (Bell), daughter of Sam (Fred Melamed), who is widely regarded to be the fruity-toned successor to LaFontaine's mantle. Carol has been struggling as a part-time voice coach in her father's shadow, but when the trailer for an new tween-lit quadrilogy is mooted, Carol decides to put in her bid to narrate it, going up against hot newcomer Gustav (Ken Marino).

Though it has some excellent in-jokes, cameos and industry references, In A World... could be set in any other business, really, since it spends more time on Carol's relationship with her sister and their father, who has taken up with a young girlfriend they snidely call “the groupie”. Like a more female-friendly Zoolander, or even Dodgeball, it uses the underdog formula to great effect, but the real fun is in the interconnecting and mostly very likeable characters. Bell's comedic style, like a less annoying Miranda Hart, lends itself well to the chaos-surfing nature of the narrative, and the whole adds up to one of the most enjoyable finds of this year's festival.

Another find is Metro Manila, a realist crime drama made by a British director Sean Ellis in an entirely Filippino setting. My first instinct was to describe it as The Raid as made by Michael Winterbottom, and, though that might be a little glib, it does go some way to describing its expert combination of genre and naturalism. It begins in the provinces, where farmer Oscar (Jake Macapagal) and his wife find that the price of rice has dropped, making his work no longer viable. Taking their savings, he moves his family to the big city, Manila, where they become easy prey for con men and crooks. Then, just as their situation becomes unbearable, Oscar is offered a job as a security guard as partner to the generous Ong (John Arcilla), who takes him under his wing.

The film takes a little while to get started, and were it not for a brutal shooting in the pre-credits sequence this could easily be taken for an earnest migrant drama. Slowly, though, the story starts to reveal itself, and when the two men take collection of a safety-deposit box full of money from an obvious small-time gangster and coke dealer, Ong plants the seed of corruption in the straitlaced Oscar's mind. Though it remains unshowy, with the occasional blast or mere threat of gun violence, Ellis's script sets up a quietly brilliant third act, in which Oscar is forced to choose between the moral high ground and the bidding of a man who has been so good to him. How it pans out you'll have to see for yourself. Suffice to say, I couldn't see any of it coming, and I found this to be one of the best films of the festival, poetic, authentic and damn near perfect.

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Lovelace, however, is only as good as it could ever be, a good-looking but a little too-clean biography of Linda Lovelace, the poster-girl for 70s porn. Amanda Seyfreid makes a decent job of the title role, transitioning from an uptight 21-year-old Floridian to the sexually open wife of a small-time pornographer. Lovelace's life story is famously contradictory, since she later disowned the porn world – which for a brief moment became mainstream, thanks to the success of her signature film Deep Throat in 1972 – and claimed that she was forced into it by her then-husband Chuck Traynor, played here by a very hirsute Peter Sarsgaard. Rather than try to make sense of it all, the directors smartly decide to have it both ways, first indulging the popular image of Lovelace as a proto-feminist trailblazer and, after a scene in which it is revealed that she is writing her autobiography, telling the story again, with Lovelace as victim of the tyrannical Traynor.

That neither version of the story fully convinces is part and parcel of the Lovelace myth, but it doesn't really matter, since the film's true object is to show that she survived it. Seyfreid plays both Linda's sympathetically and convincingly, but it is a measure of the true darkness of this somewhat whitewashed story is that Chuck Traynor is a deeply unpleasant character in both.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (323)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Final report: The Kid With A Bike, Le Havre, Michael, Walk Away Renee, The Murder, Oslo 31 August
By Damon Wise

This Must Be The Place
By Damon Wise

The Artist
By Damon Wise

Drive
By Damon Wise

Cannes Videblogisode #9
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #8
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #7
By Amar Vijay

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #6
By Amar Vijay

The Skin I Live In
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Drive
"So it's more of an 80s homage? Judging by the title, as well as the theme, I thought this would be a"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Good 'un!"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"I live my life like I'm in a Carry On film, Megan."  Chris Hewitt
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"My bra just fell off LOL amazing Carry On film vibe there. Have to say though, Chris is scarier when"  megank13
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
"★good★ look love--- w w w - jordansforking - c o m   qeedsss
Read comment

Melancholia
"More on this will follow in the magazine later; I met Lars after the banning and heard his views on "  Damon_Wise
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Heh hee hee hee. So, Chris, twitter profile pic now, right?"  Ethanial
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Is that the young Mike Cimino playing "Neil LaBute?"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
"Fair point usually but in that dress I think we should make an exception for Cheryl"  ErnestWilde
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Aha. Sam informs me that he had to cross the line as his original shooting angle would have ended up"  Chris Hewitt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Cannes 2011: Tree Of Life: First Reaction
13 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #2
8 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #5
7 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #4
5 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #6
3 comments

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
3 comments

Cannes 2011: The Tree Of Life
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #1
2 comments

Melancholia
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #8
2 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (20)
Owen Williams (15)
Simon Braund (6)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 48% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
'Today The Pond… Tomorrow The World!'... The 50 Silliest Horror Movie Taglines
Be afraid - or possibly not actually...

Marvel's Infinity War - What Does It All Mean?
Gods! Gems! Gauntlets! We explain it all...

Empire Meets Mike Leigh
On Mr. Turner, 007 and liver in lager

World War II Movies That Win At History
Seen Fury? Here’s what to watch next...

The 25 Shatneriest William Shatner Moments Of All Time
Prepare. For. Many. One. Word. Sentences.

Lists Of Our Lifetime: Empire's 25 Greatest Scares
Monsters, ghosts, horrible old ladies: the scenes that have kept us hiding behind the sofa for the last 25 years. Warning: contains spoilers.

Empire's Interstellar Review
Read our official verdict on Christopher Nolan's science-fiction epic

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)