'Like Crazy,' 'Being Elmo,' 'Becoming Chaz' Front And Center At Sundance Movie writers Kenneth Turan and Steven Zeitchik bring Morning Edition and All Things Considered a few notes from the mad moviegoing whirl in Park City.
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At Sundance, A Romance Worth Pining For (Plus A Handful Of True Stories To Track)

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At Sundance, A Romance Worth Pining For (Plus A Handful Of True Stories To Track)

At Sundance, A Romance Worth Pining For (Plus A Handful Of True Stories To Track)

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Ken, welcome to the program once again.

KENNETH TURAN: Good to be here.

INSKEEP: What are you watching?

TURAN: A lot of films, lot of films.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about dramatic films first. What stands out for you?

TURAN: Well, you know, the one that really stands out for me is a film called "Like Crazy." It's a romance. It stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, a young British actress. And, you know, so many romances you feel like you're watching characters. With this film, because of the way it was made, you really feel like you're watching real people. The emotional connection in this film is really intense.

INSKEEP: How do they manage that?

TURAN: Well, the director Drake Doremus has a background in improvisation, but it's an unusual kind of improvisation. He starts with, like, two typed pages of information for every scene, and then the actors improvise off of this really detailed outline.

INSKEEP: Oh, OK.

TURAN: And you would never guess it's improvised. I am not a fan of improvisation, but this film really makes this method work.

INSKEEP: I understand there's also a film at the Sundance Film Festival that stars Paul Giamatti, a star for many people.

TURAN: And Paul Giamatti plays a lawyer who cuts a moral corner and, you know, comes to feel that, well, maybe this wasn't such a great idea.

INSKEEP: This is also a business occasion, right? Because you have people might actually buy these films and distribute these films if they love what they see at Sundance.

TURAN: Absolutely. And the business has been really stronger this year than in previous years. In fact, the film I mentioned, "Like Crazy," was the subject of a bidding war between several companies. The negotiations, I was told, went on to like a quarter to six in the morning, all night - which is a Sundance tradition - before it was sold. And it was sold to a major studio. It was sold to Paramount, which is highly unusual.

INSKEEP: This is kind of an amazing scene that you describe. It reminds me of old stories of political conventions from generations ago. Everybody would show up and nobody would really know who the presidential nominee was going to be. That's how they're buying and selling films at Sundance?

TURAN: It really is. It's like the Wild West. It really works that way. You know, they're different - people shuttle around from different hotel rooms. I mean, it's as dramatic, often, as anything on screen. Sometimes it's more dramatic than what's on the screen.

INSKEEP: I feel compelled to mention when I say the title of this next film, this documentary, I'm just saying the title here - "The Redemption of General Butt Naked."

TURAN: General Butt Naked is a real person. He was a feared militia leader during the Liberian civil wars. He did awful things. And at a certain point during the war, he really experienced a conversion. He became an evangelical Christian. And the filmmakers spent five years, off and on, with him. And the film doesn't really take sides. It just presents this man. And this is a very unusual man.

INSKEEP: So what are you still waiting to see, Ken Turan?

TURAN: This is about an experiment that happened in the 1970s when a, like, infant chimpanzee was taken from his parents and raised by a human family, with the hope that he would learn sign language and be able to communicate with humans. And the experiment was really on the people, as much as the chimpanzee. The way the people responded to the chimpanzee, what they did, what it showed about them is just fascinating.

INSKEEP: Ken, always a pleasure to talk with you.

TURAN: Likewise, Steve. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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