© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
News Partners

Sundance Film Festival Opens And Our Reviewer Tells Us What To See


And, you know, I was lucky enough to be in gorgeous Park City, Utah, this past weekend. There was a fresh coating of - well, more than a coating. There was a foot of new snow, amazing skiing and a whole lot of movie stars around town there for the annual Sundance Film Festival. But to me, the true stars are the intrepid film critics, including our own Kenneth Turan, who bravely watches movie after movie so that we don't necessarily have to.


GREENE: Kenny joins us from Park City. Hey, Ken.

TURAN: Hey, David, how you doing?

GREENE: I'm good. I wish I were still there. I feel jealous you're still - we were just having lunch in Park City a couple days ago, and now I'm back to work in LA. You're at work, too, watching movies. So where should we start?

TURAN: Well, you know, usually, I like the documentaries, and they were good this year, too. But this year, the dramas really grabbed me. You know, and there was one, actually, that I just really enjoyed called "Juliet, Naked." It's from a book by Nick Hornby. You know, his books have made other films like "High Fidelity" and "About A Boy." And it's got this really charming plot about an obsessive rock fan played by Chris O'Dowd, his long-suffering girlfriend, played by Rose Byrne, and then there's the rocker himself, the reclusive Tucker Crowe, played by Ethan Hawke. And the three of them somehow come together, and it's just charming.

GREENE: This is a different Sundance for you if you're focusing on the dramas. Are...

TURAN: I know. I don't know. I'm kind of getting up in the morning, and I'm wondering, you know, what's going on here?

GREENE: Are there more dramas that caught your eye?

TURAN: Yeah, there are two others that I really liked. One is called "Wildlife." It's the first directing for Paul Dano. He's an actor who people will probably remember from "Little Miss Sunshine." He played the young Brian Wilson in "Love & Mercy." He's taken a Richard Ford novel - this is a novel about a marriage kind of slowly falling apart. The co-stars are Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. It just was a pleasure to experience this film.

And there's one more. There's a film called "Leave No Trace." This is the new film by Debra Granik. It's a story of a father and daughter who are homeless by choice. He's an Army veteran who is just - has some mental problems, and they live in an enormous urban forest in Portland. And it's really uncompromising. It's wrenching. It's - but it's wonderful by the end, and I was really impressed by it.

GREENE: Well, can I ask you about a documentary or two?

TURAN: (Laughter).

GREENE: If - I don't want to take you back to - take you a place you don't want to go. But, you know, as the former Moscow correspondent for NPR, I was so curious about this new film "Our New President."

TURAN: Yes. "Our New President" was fascinating. It's about Russian TV. It's not about how the Russians might have influenced our election. It's about what the Russians see themselves. It's how our politicians are portrayed on Russian TV screens. And it's kind of jaw-dropping. You know, we think we've heard things like fake news. This is nothing compared to what the people in Russia have to see on their TV screens.

GREENE: Oh, yeah. I'll have to see this movie.

TURAN: But, you know, the ones that - there was a pair of documentaries that I really enjoyed so much. I mean, I - just gave me the best feeling. They are - both have a similar subject. They're about science fairs. One is called "Inventing Tomorrow." The other is called "Science Fair." And they're about these young high school scientists from all around the world who are very earnest, and very serious and very committed to kind of putting on experiments that will help save the world. But they're also teenagers, and they're charming, and they're guileless. And, you know, it was just tonic to experience, you know, their energy on the screen. Just seeing them just made me feel good.

GREENE: Well, I'm glad that you're feeling good. And thanks for introducing me to Park City. It was my first time at Sundance. I appreciate it.

TURAN: We miss you David. Wish you were still here.

GREENE: I would be happy to come back. Talk to my bosses, Kenny.

TURAN: (Laughter).

GREENE: That is Kenneth Turan. He reviews movies for us at MORNING EDITION and also for the Los Angeles Times. Kenny, enjoy the rest of time there.

TURAN: Thank you, David.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLENERO SONG, "SUNDANCE KIDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.