Robert Redford’s indie and arthouse mecca Sundance arrives in London on April 26 for four days of movies, music and general soul enrichment. Like Comic-Con for culture-vultures, it crams 14 feature films, eight shorts, several gigs, and, no doubt, quite a few memorable moments into that short space of time. But, you’re probably asking yourself, what should I spend my hard-earned on? Good question. Here for the time-poor movie fan is Empire’s pick of five Sundance films designed to suit any mood.
2 Days In New York** **(Dir. Julie Delpy)
Indie doyenne Julie Delpy is bringing her fifth feature film as director to Greenwich. Gauloise-tinged romance will be in the air again in her follow-up to 2007’s 2 Days In Paris, with Adam Goldberg swapped for Chris Rock’s radio personality in Marion’s (Delpy) ever-hectic life. Like Green Card remade by Woody Allen, the arrival of Marion’s French family causes chaos on a near-Cloverfield scale. Expect cats, cultural carnage and Delpy’s real-life dad as the rabbit-bothering, cheese-fixated Gallic maniac Jeannot.
The House I Live In (Dir. Eugene Jarecki)
Documentarian Eugene Jarecki, the man behind the impressively brainy Why We Fight and the equally thought-provoking Freakonomics, will deliver this brutal indictment of America’s war on drugs to a no-doubt rapt audience. It certainly stunned Sundance audiences in Utah with a critique of a policy that’s damned as both “tragically immoral” and “heartbreakingly misguided”. We assume he’ll be smuggling it into the country hidden in a straw donkey.
The Queen Of Versailles (Dir. Lauren Greenfield)
The film that saw Sundance sued for defamation – someone forgot that Robert Redford was in Legal Eagles – Lauren Greenfield’s documentary is a tale of ego, excess and a Xanadu-like Florida mansion called ‘Versailles’. The film follows 76 year-old billionaire David Siegel, who was left coping with a 90,000 square-foot catastrophe when the credit crunch struck his timeshare empire. Siegel took the festival to court, unhappy with the film’s label “a rags-to-riches-to-rags” story, but failed to stop it screening. If that’s not reason enough to track it down, the house itself is a Greek tragedy with a kitchen the size of Athens.
Shut Up And Play The Hits (Dir. Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace)
House music legends LCD Soundsystem went out in a blaze of glory at New York’s Madison Square Garden in April 2011. Now, a year later, hipster crown prince James Murphy and his DFA Records chums hang up the sequencers on The 02’s big screen in a concert doc that takes on the group’s last 48 hours in raucous fashion. With Spike Jonze lending a hand behind the camera, expect this to put the ‘dance’ into Sundance. Look out for Robert Redford’s legendary big fish / little fish / cardboard box down the front.
Liberal Arts (Dir. Josh Radnor)
Bookish Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) meets smart and funny Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) when he returns to his old Midwestern college for a dinner. So far, so rom-com – only she’s 19 and he’s 35. After Radnor’s debut, 2010’s Happythankyoumoreplease, this one is more Ohmygodshesfartooyoungforyou, but the result is described by Empire’s own Damon Wise as a “sweet, funny and sometimes surprisingly acerbic comedy”. Up-and-coming indie filmmakers like Radnor, Lena Dunham and Jeff Orlowski are central to Redford’s Sundance manifesto, so this should be near the top of your list. Also, Zac Efron’s in it, which we imagine will delight a certain younger segment of the audience.