THE SHOWROOM AT SUNDANCE 2015: “BROOKLYN” WAS A TOP PICK (REPOST)
Originally published February 5, 2015…
Every January, Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino, owners of The Showroom arthouse movie theater in Asbury Park, travel to the Sundance Film Festival to preview what will soon become some of the hottest movies.
Over the years, they shared in this column their love of “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” “Searching for Sugar Man,” “Black Swan,” “Boyhood” and many more that went on to wow both critics and movie-goers.
Asbury Park’s Siskel and Ebert returned blurry-eyed from their Amazing Race-style endurance test of film watching last week. In six days, the two saw 23 films that ranged from “eh” to “amazing,” but never disappointing.
At DJ’s Restaurant last week, we spoke about some of their favorites…
TBP: Let’s start with the trends you spotted in film making.
Sabino: There were never so many female directors than this year. Such a large number of women leaders has a positive effect on many aspects of the film industry.
Sodano: The dynamic of important relationships was a major theme category this year. Relationships of
all types – brother to sister, mother to daughter and even strangers to strangers. Each relationship was thrown into some kind of conflict, upheaval or question.
For example, “Stranger Land” starring Nicole Kidman. It was set in the Australian desert with beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cinematography and a story that was the proverbial pulling back of an onion. It examined the relationship of a teenage daughter with her mother and the mother with her entire family after a life-altering moment. Nicole Kidman was great.
Sabino: “Sleeping with Other People,” starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, was one of our top favorites. Directed by Leslye Headland, it explored the relationship of exes. During the Q and A session, Leslye likened her film to “When Harry Met Sally” if Harry and Sally were (bleep)holes. The writing was crystal-sharp, intelligent and sparkled because of the excellent cast.
Leslye took an old story and modernized it fantastically by having the characters re-meet each other in a sex addict’s anonymous meeting. You could see the film four different times and find new dynamics of the characters. Remember the classic Harry and Sally scene in the diner? You won’t forget the new take on that moment in this film.
TBP: Which films do you think we will be hearing about?
Sodano: The slow-moving “Last Days in the Desert” with Ewan McGregor playing Jesus and the Devil will get attention. The cinematography is what makes this film special. Nancy spoke with the director about filming in the middle of the desert for two weeks.
Sabino: “A Walk in the Woods,” starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte will appeal to anyone who liked the book.
Jack Black fans will enjoy “The D Train.” Jack plays the head of a high school reunion committee who travels to Los Angeles to find the most popular guy from his class played by James Marsden. It’s got some surprises.
A good film with a hard topic was “Stockholm, PA.” This was a ripped from the headlines-type story focusing on woman who was abducted as a girl and held for 12 years. The film explores the woman’s assimilation back into real life and her relationship with her mom. It ends with a twist you never saw coming.
Sodano: We both loved “Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “Brooklyn.” The latter was purchased by FOX Searchlight immediately. It’s an epic period piece along the lines of “Dr. Zhivago” about Irish immigrants in the 1930’s. It highlights what it really, really means to be an American and takes the audience on a journey asking the question would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or vice versa. There was not a dry eye in the house when the credits rolled.
All these films are on our list to hopefully bring to Asbury Park. We love it when we see audiences respond to films we enjoyed first at Sundance. To us, film is a communication tool and we are grateful for the opportunity to share what we love with the area.