Sundance: Phase two: Ahh, here comes the reel deal
PARK CITY - Every year, the Sundance Film Festival hits the turn on Wednesday, as the "Package A" pass holders go home and the "Package B" buyers arrive.
It's the difference between the people who want to be seen and those who want to see. The celebrities and their hangers-on have largely left. Those of us who remain, and those who landed here Wednesday, don't need to wear a large button with Sundance's "Focus on Film" mantra printed on it - we already do.
Here are eight films to focus on as Sundance reaches its final weekend (check the Sundance schedule for screening times) and http://www.sltrib.com for capsule reviews:
"Crazy Love" (U.S. Documentary) - Dan Klores' well-crafted look at the fascinating 50-year relationship between a New York beauty and the man whose obsession with her took a horrific turn.
"Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" (U.S. Documentary) - Filmmaker Rory Kennedy does what investigative journalists have so far failed to do: Connect the dots between the U.S. servicemen who committed the abuse at the Iraqi prison and the generals and civilian leaders whose policies made such atrocities acceptable.
"Grace Is Gone" (U.S. Dramatic) - Writer-director James C. Strouse and star John Cusack put the casualties of the Iraq war in a human context, in the touching story of a hardware-store manager (Cusack) trying to avoid telling his daughters that their mother has been killed in Iraq.
"Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)" (U.S. Documentary) - Jason Kohn expands the visual reach of documentary with arresting cinematic images, as he exposes the vicious circle of corruption and kidnapping in Brazil.
"My Kid Could Paint That" (U.S. Documentary) - Is a 4-year-old abstract painter a prodigy? Or a joke on the modern-art industry? Director Amir Bar-Lev raises tough questions about his subjects, and even about his own ethics.
"Once" (World Dramatic) - Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard and Czech musician Marketa Irglova make beautiful music together in writer-director John Carney's gorgeously simple movie, a little bit romantic drama and a lot like an extended-length music video.
"Snow Angels" (U.S. Dramatic) - David Gordon Green's bleak, heartbreaking drama that intersects the breakup of a marriage (between Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale) and a burgeoning young romance (between Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby).
"Starting Out in the Evening" (U.S. Dramatic) - An aging novelist (Frank Langella) is flattered by the attentions of a grad student (Lauren Ambrose) in this literate drama by director Andrew Wagner.