14 films to keep tabs on at this year’s Sundance Film Festival

tk plays a kid filmed over 12 years in Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," which will play this year's Sundance Film Festival. Credit: IFC Films
Ellar Salmon plays a kid filmed over 12 years in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” which will play this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Credit: IFC Films

Back when it was called the Utah/US Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival had a simple mission: to wrangle attention toward genuine independent filmmaking. Nowadays it’s just another high profile attention-suck, where hotly anticipated “independent” (read: usually not) projects sit with tiny films you’ll never hear from again. But there’s always the occasional shock, as with last year’s “Fruitvale Station.” But here’s a handful of this year’s titles you (possibly) already know you want to see after they leave the coldest film festival in the country.

‘The Better Angels’
This year has the potential to contain three — seriously, three! — films by once reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick. For now, he’s put his name on the debut of one of his collaborators, A.J. Edwards. (He was one of five credited editors on “To the Wonder.”) We can safely predict this will prove a haunting, immersive look at the childhood of Abraham Lincoln, the last president born in a cabin, with Diane Kruger, Jason Clarke and Brit Marling as members of his family.

‘Boyhood’
Richard Linklater’s epic “Before” series is impressive and all, but what’s truly jaw-dropping is another long-term project with Ethan Hawke: this look at the youth and adolescence of a kid (Ellar Salmon), which the filmmaker has been shooting over 12 years. Hawke and Patricia Arquette play his divorced parents, and we see how he copes from first grade through high school graduation. And Sundance gets it first.

‘Dear White People’
White co-opting of black culture gets skewered in this Tribeca Film Institute-shepherded satire, which watches as four black students at an Ivy League school react in horror to an “African American”-themed party thrown by white students.

‘Finding Fela’
Alex Gibney is the Robert Pollard of documentaries, minus only the talent. Films are harder to crank out than songs, but hopefully tackling Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti will get him working harder and not just quickly. And if it’s a bust, there’s always the in-the-works Fela biopic by “Mother of George” filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu.

‘Frank’
Michael Fassbender doesn’t get many chances to be funny, or wear goofy cardboard heads. He does both in this comedy, which tells a story inspired by the late Chris Sivey, involving a man who fronts a band under his big-fake-headed alter ego. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson co-star.

‘Happy Christmas’
Once the prolific maker of experimental, intentionally visually slapdash micro-indies like “Hannah Takes the Stairs” and “Silver Bullets,” Joe Swanberg has of late shifted to films with “real” actors and “cameras on tripods.” Here he reunites with “Drinking Buddies” star Anna Kendrick and adds Lena Dunham and Melanie Lynskey, plus “Beasts of the Southern Wild” cinematographer Ben Richardson.

‘Laggies’
Ever since “Humpday,” writer-director Lynn Shelton has been unstoppable, cranking out intimate, character- and actor-driven films with high (or high-ish) concepts. Her latest stars no less than Keira Knightley as an immature woman who lies to her fiancé about going on a getaway, when she really wants to hang with her friends. Chloe Grace Moretz, Gretchen Mol, Ellie Kemper and Sam Rockwell co-star.

‘Life Itself’
Named after his memoir, this documentary on Roger Ebert, who died after a long and heroic bout with cancer last April, is obvious key viewing. That’s no less because it’s been handled by Steve James, who usually handles fly-on-the-wall docs like “Hoop Dreams,” one of the film critic’s favorites.

‘Listen Up Philip’
Filmmaker Alex Ross Perry follows up his beautifully uncomfortable “The Color Wheel” with another wry look at horrible people, this one starring Jason Schwartzman as a writer whose struggle over a second novel chips away at his mind and his relationship (with photographer Elisabeth Moss).

‘Love Is Strange’
Filmmaker Ira Sachs was last seen with “Keep the Lights On,” a trenchant and deeply lived-in look at a dysfunctional couple, based on his own younger life. This time he looks at those his own age, with Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as long-time partners who take advantage of New York’s marriage laws to wed — just in time for them to fall into some financial and vocational dire straits.

‘The Raid: Berandal’
The first Indonesian ass-kicker was the rare action film with no flab on it. It was all fighting — and, as a result, it was a bit on the exhausting side. (It’s incredible if watched in chunks, though.) So how about not just more, but 2 ½ hours more? From the teaser, it looks like this one opens up the world a bit more, which could either create much-needed respites or utterly ruin the charming simplicity of the first.

‘The Trip to Italy’
The title vaguely recalls Roberto Rossellini’s bickering-marrieds classic “Voyage to Italy,” but hopefully this sequel to the dining-and-impersonations romp “The Trip” is even more pugilistic. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reunite to hit even more picturesque digs, all while one-upping eachother on improv. What famous person impression will go viral? And perhaps more important, has Coogan gotten over his melancholic funk?

‘White Bird in a Blizzard’
After a stint doing comedies (“Smiley Face,” “Kaboom”), New Queer Cinema legend Gregg Araki returns to the arch drama stylings of “Mysterious Skin.” Shailene Woodley plays a teen whose life is thrown into disarray when her mother (Eva Green) goes missing. Christopher Meloni and Angela Bassett co-star.

‘Wish I Was Here’
Remember when Zach Braff — Zach Braff! — went on Kickstarter, asking for funds to make his own indie? Here it is! Braff plays an out-of-work actor homeschooling his kids, and seeing as he directed it, it will probably feature cutesy gags and Braff the actor aggravatingly ending each sentence with a question mark.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.