Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, of course, is THE BIG GET at this year’s festival. The story of the pervy prince of photography who blurred the lines between porn and fine art – and started a culture war – is told in all its lurid glory. It premieres at the festival this Friday (followed by a faaaaaaabulous after-party – have you received your invitation yet?). But what OTHER must-see movies are playing this year? My top 7 choices are listed below.
1 The Cult of JT Leroy: It was THE literary scandal of the 21st century. Trans/HIV-infected teen author JT Leroy became an international sensation with his harrowing story of drugs, prostitution, and abuse at the hands of his craaaaaaaazy mother. Celebrities like Winona Ryder and Courtney Love flocked to his side before he was exposed to be a character entirely fabricated by a middle-aged, mentally unstable writer named Laura Albert. Asks the Daily Californian: “How did ‘JT LeRoy’ manage to fool a horde of rich and famous followers and even an entire nation? How could a human being be capable of such deep deceit with no remorse? Did Albert actually do anything wrong, or did she just take her storytelling to another level via roleplaying? ” Questions to ponder while watching this fascinating doc.
2. Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper: Anderson interviews his iconic mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who born into one of the richest families in America, was the subject of a high-profile custody battle when she was a child, dated stars like Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, and Howard Hughs, famously launched a brand of designer jeans under her name and watched her son — Cooper’s older brother — commit suicide. “My mom has been in the public eye probably longer than anybody else alive,” Cooper said of his 91-year-old mum. “Now I know her in a way I didn’t know her a year and a half ago when we started this process.” Fascinating. And can you imagine if she made an appearance at Sundance?
3. Goat: Nick Jonas stars in a brutal story of frat-house hazing. How could you NOT want to see that?
4. Swiss Army Man: Intriguing premise. Paul Dano is shipwrecked on a deserted island. One day, a corpse (played by Daniel Radcliffe) washes ashore. Dano and his new “friend” then embark on an epic journey to reunite with the woman of his dreams. Huh?
5. Wiener-Dog: Writer/director Todd Solanz revisits some of the characters from Welcome to the Dollhouse twenty years later in this dark comedy about a dachshund and his effect on those he comes in contact with.
6. Spa Night: From the official description: “Los Angeles’ Korean spas serve as meeting place and bridge between past and future for generations of immigrant families; Spa Night explores one Korean-American family’s dreams and realities as each struggles with the overlap of personal desire, disillusionment and sense of tradition.”
7. Life, Animated: The story of Owen, an autistic boy who stopped speaking when he was 3 years old, and how Disney animation gave him a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world.