Pop Rocks

Going To Sundance? You Won't Get Into These Movies.

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off this week in Park City, UT. The venerable fest enters its 33rd year with many once again questioning the organizers' commitment to independent film. Recent incarnations have debuted underground fare from art houses like Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics, which are "Independent" film divisions of billion dollar studios.

In recent years, the festival has also exploded in size. As an attendee from 2004-2006, I can attest to the sardine can buses, crowded parties, and packed screenings. Even a press pass is no guarantee for the most popular films, especially when you're not just contending with the likes of Paris Hilton/Snoop Dogg and their entourages, but also media outlets that think it's fun to cram every one of their people into the same movie.

But I'm not going this year. If you are, good luck squeezing into any of these highly anticipated flicks.

Red State -- Kevin Smith's latest is a horror tale centered on a fundamentalist Christian group not-so loosely based on Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church (and stars The Fighter's Melissa Leo. It's a hot ticket for Smith who's spent recent months lashing out at critics following the overwhelmingly poor notices for Cop Out, vowing not to allow them to screen his movies in advance (and I hear he's not letting any media into the Sundance screening, which is already sold out). This could charitably be described as a disingenuous move, considering the guy owes his entire career to the positive reviews Clerks received at this very festival back in 1994.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold -- Ever wonder why everyone in a movie has an Apple computer, a Nokia cell phone, and drinks Budweiser? Morgan Spurlock follows up the success of Super Size Me (a huge fest hit in 2004) with this look at product placement in the movies, examining the cozy relationship between studios and corporate America. The catch? He obtained funding only from the sponsors he examines in the film itself.

And apparently domestic distribution rights have been secured by Sony Pictures. Maybe we'll get a coupon for a Vaio discount with each ticket.

The Idiot Brother -- AKA That Movie Where Paul Rudd Grew A Beard.

Seriously, that's all anyone can talk about.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar