The weekend’s biggest new movie and the weekend’s best new movie were both hits from this year’s Sundance Film Festival — and delve into the tricky life of storytellers.
The big movie is “The Words,” a multilayered tale that starts with an author (Dennis Quaid) at a book reading telling of a young would-be writer (Bradley Cooper) who succumbs to temptation when he finds a lost manuscript and decides to get it published under his own name — and what happens when that young writer is confronted by an old man (Jeremy Irons) who claims to have written it. Writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal lavish much care on the film’s glossy style, but can’t cover up for a lack of substance.
The best movie is “Sleepwalk With Me,” a triumphant directorial debut for stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia. He tells an autobiographical tale of a struggling comic dealing with reversals in his career, stagnation in his relationship with his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose), and a nagging sleep disorder that becomes increasingly dangerous. Birbiglia, best known as a regular on public radio’s “This American Life” (whose host, Ira Glass, is a producer and co-writer here), invests himself fully in the storytelling, often talking directly to the camera to tell his funny, poignant story.
Two thrillers are opening in Salt Lake City this weekend, but were not screened for critics: “Branded,” a futuristic tale of a corporate-driven society; and “The Cold Light of Day,” in which a young bond trader (Henry Cavill) must free his family from intelligence operatives who are after a mystery briefcase.