One of our favorite things about film (and one of the things we get to indulge least frequently) is the element of surprise. It’s literally our job to watch, analyze and dissect all kinds of movie minutiae. We are gifted with advanced screenings and advanced DVDs and we dissect the poster, the trailer, and practically each individual frame. And in the office, our “water cooler talk” is the kind that will spoil every plot of every movie for everyone. Sorry, Paul in accounting, but that movie you’re looking forward to seeing sucks.
But, with the Sundance Film Festival upon us, we are presented with the unique opportunity to wonder over a few films we know next to nothing about. For the movies on this list, all of which will premiere at Sundance over the next ten days, we have no information save for the log line – the two or three sentences the studio’s media department wrote up to entice prospective viewers –and maybe a couple stills. For many, the necessary brevity of these descriptions make them intentionally or unintentionally funny; for others, the effect is vague and mysterious. And all of them are fun to speculate on!
So join us, as we examine, ponder, puzzle over, and laugh with some of our favorite log lines for movies premiering at Sundance:
BLINDSPOTTING – A buddy comedy in a world that won’t let it be one.
If brevity is the soul of wit, then this single sentence is the Marvin Gaye of the post-twitter world. There’s so little here and yet, so much to unpack. Why won’t the world let these two would-be-buddies buddies up? Is the movie’s title, Blindspotting, a hint to some sort of Atwoodian, speculative fiction-like future where people have been so convinced in the non-existence of “buddies” that they have developed literal blindspots?
TYREL – Tyler spirals out of control when he realizes he’s the only black person attending a birthday weekend party in a secluded cabin.
This feels like Get Out meets Cabin in the Woods –a mashup with the potential to be mortifying, terrifying, and brilliant. Also, not going to lie, we read the title as Tyler until the discrepancy was pointed out to us. And that somehow makes it more interesting. Is it a blatant misspelling of Tyler’s name? The name of a mysterious elicit drug? An evil corporation? A puppy? It could LITERALLY be anything…Okay, we just looked it up. Mystery solved. I guess that’s fine too.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU – In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, black telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success—which propels him into a macabre universe.
Okay, we’re just going to come out and ask: Why do they go out of their way to tell us the telemarketer is black? Is it because we, as a society tend not to view telemarketers as “people” and that, somehow, in this alternate (more to unpack there) Oakland the way we dismiss and denigrate telemarketers mirrors the way we, in reality, dismiss and denigrate minorities? Whoa. Okay. Mind blown.
DEAD PIGS – A bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an ex-pat architect, and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river toward a rapidly modernizing Shanghai. Based on true events.
Pound for pound, this description (which is a little more fleshed out than most of the log lines on this list) is the one that most makes us want to see this movie. Stories that involve seemingly disconnected characters meeting and impacting each other’s lives are usually interesting, and the extreme circumstances of Dead Pigs ups our level of excitement. Plus, it sort of reminds us of this, which is pretty fascinating. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to blast “Crash into Me” through the office.
ASSASSINATION NATION – This is a 1,000 per cent true story about how the quiet, all-American town of Salem absolutely lost its mind.
The title rhymes. So it has that going for it.
I AM NOT A WITCH – After a minor incident, nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a witch camp, where she is told that if she escapes, she’ll be transformed into a goat. As she navigates through her new life, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom.
From the description, we are interpreting this film like Harry Potter: The True Story. Let’s face it, there would be far more ostracizing and burnings at the stake if the events of Harry Potter happened in the real world. And Witch Camp sounds like it has more in common with the farm your parents told you your dog Skippy went to after he got hit by the car than the fairyland of Hogwarts Academy.
AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN – Lulu Danger’s unsatisfying marriage takes a fortunate turn for the worse when a mysterious man from her past comes to town to perform an event called “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn For One Magical Night Only.”
We love it when the word a thing is used to describe it. It’s just so evocative. The story of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn tells the story of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, which tells the story of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, which tells…
SEARCH – After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her. A thriller that unfolds entirely on computer screens.
Normally there wouldn’t be much to separate this movie from the hundreds of genre movies that seem to pop up for VOD services nearly every day. But the way this story will be told has us intrigued. Unfriended did this a few years ago for the horror genre and that ended up being a small, underappreciated gem. So we’re definitely interested to see where Search takes us.
PUZZLE – Agnes, taken for granted as a suburban mother, discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles that unexpectedly draws her into a new world—a world where her life unfolds in ways she could never have imagined.
This is…just…yes. Just, yes.
MADELINE’S MADELINE – Madeline got the part! She’s going to play the lead in a theatre piece! Except the lead wears sweatpants like Madeline’s. And has a cat-like Madeline’s. And is holding a steaming hot iron next to her mother’s face—like Madeline is.
This is the film equivalent of Turtles all the way down. And these are the movie titles that popped into our heads when we read this logline: Single White Female, Kate Plays Christine, and Synecdoche, New York. Then we started mashing all those movies together and…yeah, this film’s going to be great.