This week you're probably not interested in what's opening in theaters, because like me you're too preoccupied with what's going on at Sundance. That's where the real action is for independent cinema right now.
So I'm doing something a little different this week, spotlighting three special films playing at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. As a special treat to non-festival goers, you have the opportunity to watch each film in your own home. It doesn't matter how far you are from the goings-on in Park City, Utah, just so long as your cable provider carries the VOD channel Sundance Selects.
Although I'm concentrating on this one specific service, let me remind you that other 2010 Sundance films are available to rent and stream on YouTube as well.
What it is: "Daddy Longlegs" is a drama starring Ronnie Bronstein as a divorced dad in NYC who gets his two young sons (real-life brothers, and sons of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo) for a two-week stretch while their mother is on "vacation." As the film progresses, Bronstein's character's irresponsible and inept parenting skills reveal themselves, ultimately to the point that may in fact frighten viewers with young children. Written and directed by fraternal filmmakers Ben and Joshua Safdie ("The Pleasure of Being Robbed").
Why you should be interested: "Daddy Longlegs" has been receiving rave reviews since premiering (under its original title "Go Get Some Rosemary") at the Cannes Film Festival last May. The highest praise there came from Cahiers du Cinema, which likened it to the films of the French New Wave. It has also been compared to the works of John Cassavetes and Jim Jarmusch, though I found its honesty and sympathy towards its protagonist to be like nothing I've seen before, especially out of Sundance. I personally love the film and highly recommend it to fans of New Wave cinema, classic independent cinema of NYC and, well, cinema in general.
How you can see it: In addition to its festival screenings and current VOD availability (on Sundance Selects for the next month), "Daddy Longlegs" will play in Brooklyn, NY this Thursday as part of the Sundance USA program, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
What it is: "7 Days" is a French-Canadian suspense thriller from director Daniel Grou (aka "PODZ") about a doctor (Claude Legault) who takes revenge -- brutal, violent revenge -- on the man who raped and killed his young daughter. The film is said to be extremely bloody, even for a vengeance film, so it's not for the squeamish.
Why you should be interested: Most reviews for "7 Days" are positive, and they make a point to assure us that it's not like the billion other paternal vengeance films we've seen over the last 40 years. Nor is it, in spite of all the violence, akin to the torture porn horror films that it might superficially seem to be aligned with. Of course, fans of the "Saw" movies would probably like it all the same.
How you can see it: On Sundance Selects for the next month. After that, who knows?
"The Shock Doctrine"
What it is: "The Shock Doctrine" is a documentary co-directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross (who last collaborated on "The Road to Guantanamo"), and based on Nancy Klein's international bestseller "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." It involves the relationship between free-market capitalism and the catastrophic events (Katrina, 9/11, etc.) allegedly caused and/or exacerbated by such an economy.
Why you should be interested: The recent earthquake in Haiti has apparently already, as a topic, been added to Klein's lectures, so the film will seem quite timely, whether or not you agree with its thesis. Regardless, "The Shock Doctrine" comes from bold and highly acclaimed filmmakers, who together are sometimes controversial ("Guantanamo") and sometimes unwatchable ("9 Songs"), but always interesting. On his own, Winterbottom ("A Mighty Heart") has had one of the most prolific and undefinable filmmaking careers of the last 20 years, and he's even got another work screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival (the crime drama "The Killer Inside Me" with Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Casey Affleck). As a longtime fan of his, I honestly can't wait to check this one out.
How you can see it: "The Shock Doctrine" will be available on VOD via Sundance Selects beginning this Thursday.