Sundance Watch: Franco falls in love, Reed coy on engagement

AP News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2015 9:58 PM
Sundance Watch: Franco falls in love, Reed coy on engagement

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The Associated Press is all over the Sundance Film Festival, from its premieres to the Hollywood glitz. Here's what they've seen and heard:

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FIRST LOOK: 'MISSISSIPPI GRIND'

Two wildly different strangers with a shared and debilitating love of rainbows and poker take a high stakes gambling road trip from Dubuque, Iowa to New Orleans in "Mississippi Grind," a deft, entertaining and messy look at depression, addiction and the highs of winning that premiered Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival.

Ryan Reynolds co-stars as a slick drifter who's always ready with charming, perfectly rehearsed story or joke. The other party in question doesn't even seem to exist in the same universe as Reynolds' Curtis. Gerry, played by Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, is an empty shell of man who slumps through life in dumpy trousers listening only to Joe Navarro books on tape.

The two meet on a lark and immediately take to one another, and it's not just the enabling that keeps them on a shared path of self-destruction. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck ("Half Nelson") keep the motives and backstories of their leads ambiguous for most of the film, which laces every moment with tension and suspicion.

While the mystery is compelling at the start, nothing is spoon-fed to the audience, which leads to a few scenes that just don't track at all.

In the Q&A an audience member asked the directors to explain one. Fleck joked that he didn't know what she was talking about since he wasn't there that day and moved on, eliciting some groans from audience members expecting a more thoughtful answer.

The beautifully shot "Mississippi Grind" isn't concerned with answers, though, which could be infuriating for some, but the charm of the film rests in the hands of its tragic but intoxicating leads — not dissimilar to the allure of gambling.

—By Lindsey Bahr

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JAMES FRANCO QUICK QUOTE: ON MEETING BRAD PITT FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

"We fell in love last night. He's the coolest guy."

— James Franco, on meeting Brad Pitt for the first time at the Sundance premiere of "True Story," which Pitt's company Plan B produced

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NIKKI REED IS CRAZY FOR CATS, COY ON ENGAGEMENT

Nikki Reed was coy when asked about her rumored engagement to actor Ian Somerhalder, saying only, "Life is really great right now and I'm so excited for the future." But she was effusive about her love for animals.

The entertainer came to Sundance on Saturday to host the third annual Catdance Film Festival, a celebration of cats on screen that benefits the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Reed says she's been an animal advocate since she was a kid.

"I learned how to change a cloth diaper on a raccoon," she said. "I was maybe 8 or 9."

Her mom let her bring home "any and every thing that needed love or needed food," including, for a brief time, a coyote.

Now Reed has nine pets of her own — two horses, four dogs and three cats — and provides foster care for countless other cats and dogs. She has taken in so many homeless animals that her mother recently moved in to help her care for all the critters.

Cradling a tiny white kitten available for adoption, Reed says it was a natural fit for her to join Catdance, where all the felines on film are in need of homes.

Kitty fans not at Sundance can check out the Catdance shorts at www.freshstep.com/cat-world.

— By Sandy Cohen

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LENA DUNHAM QUICK QUOTE: 'I FEEL SO LUCKY'

"I think the thing about expressing yourself is you have to be ready for all kinds of reactions and I feel so lucky about the support I've gotten both from the people close to me and my readers and I love the experience."

—Lena Dunham at Sundance, on the controversy surrounding her book "Not That Kind Of Girl"

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FIRST LOOK: 'THE D TRAIN'

Jack Black said he was drawn to 'The D Train' because he recognized the desperation of the character he plays: An outcast willing to do anything to get the most popular kid from his graduating class to attend their 20th high school reunion.

The male buddy comedy, which premiered Friday at the Sundance Film Festival, turns a different lens on the trope of the drunken one-night stand and shows how far Black's character will go to get the attention of the popular guy (James Marsden), who left their Pennsylvania hometown to become an actor in Los Angeles. Dan Landsman (Black) thinks wooing this Hollywood star back to their high school would make him the hero of the reunion.

As Landsman, Black dupes his boss, lies to his wife and ignores his son to gain favor with the handsome actor.

Black's performance is heartfelt and heartbreaking. Marsden is on point as a self-absorbed actor. But this flawed comedy comes with a strong undercurrent of sexism and homophobia.

To offer more details would tread into spoiler territory, but safe to say that had one of the lead characters been female, there would probably be little to laugh at, and perhaps no movie at all.

—Sandy Cohen

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JENJI KOHAN QUICK QUOTE: THE WISH THAT WON'T COME TRUE

"I wish everyone would get naked and simulate sex all the time, but they won't."

—"Orange is the New Black" creator Jenji Kohan at Sundance, on the difficulty of filming sex scenes

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JEFFREY TAMBOR QUICK QUOTE: WHAT A DIFFERENCE STREAMING MAKES

"You push a button and it goes all over the world and on Sunday people are saying, 'Oh, I binge watched all 10 of them. Where's more?' and you go oh, the world has changed. It's not my dad walking to the television set and turning a knob to Ed Sullivan."

—Jeffrey Tambor at Sundance on how streaming is changing the world of entertainment

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