At Sundance: Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll


The story: A three-dimensional concert film assembled from the Irish superband's worldwide Vertigo tour. Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., The Edge and Adam Clayton allow the camera to act as a kind of fifth band member prowling the stage. And animation is added to some performances. Director Catherine Owens says she told the band: "We're just about the intimacy, the relationship between the four of you and how that seeps out to the audience and what the audience gives you back."

Of note: A sequence during the song Love and Peace where Bono mimics an intimate telephone call and the empty space in front of him becomes animation: a globe emerges, a baby develops inside it and the umbilical cord becomes the line of the phone. "One of the animators reflected that piece of animation in Bono's glasses," Owens says, adding a subliminal realism. "It's a psychological experience in the back of your brain."

The Merry Gentleman

Whom it's for: Offbeat romantics, redemption-seeking hit men.

The story: Michael Keaton stars in and directs this tale of a Chicago murder-for-hire contractor who befriends a lonely, abused young woman (No Country for Old Men's Kelly Macdonald) at first to find out if she is a potentially dangerous witness to a crime. "He does it, frankly, out of making sure everything is covered," Keaton says. "He needs to make sure that she didn't see what he hopes she didn't see. And a weird relationship develops out of it from there." Meanwhile, a detective is on the killer's trail, and the crime story plays out with a mixture of tragedy and comedy. "She ends up feeling safest with probably the most dangerous guy she has ever met," Keaton says.

Of note: The star of Batman and Beetlejuice behind the camera: "The thing about directing is, boy, you're really out there."


Whom it's for: People who belong to clubs they are forbidden from talking about.

The story: Victor (Sam Rockwell) lives off the naiveté of good Samaritans: He pretends to choke in restaurants and scams the people who try to save him. It's grim comedy based on a novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. "I thought Sam Rockwell was dream casting because I pretty much see him as funny, but he's also kind of profane at the same time, and touching," Palahniuk says. "All of my books are about people accomplishing profound things but doing it in kind of profane ways, breaking the rules for noble reasons."

Of note: How closely director Clark Gregg stays to the book.

Be Kind Rewind

Whom it's for: YouTube lovers.

The story: A fantasy with Mos Def and Jack Black as friends who set out to make homemade versions of popular movies such as RoboCop, Rush Hour 2 and Driving Miss Daisy after accidentally erasing all the tapes in a video store. It's directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), who imaginatively uses low-fi substitutions for big-budget special effects, such as Christmas tinsel for Ghostbusters' lasers. "It's wish-fulfillment kind of fun, remaking movies in a low-rent way," Black says. "It's the kind of crap I used to do as a kid, just horsing around pretending to be The Six Million Dollar Man."

Of note: Real-life Ghostbusters star Sigourney Weaver plays a cold-hearted studio copyright lawyer.

Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?

Whom it's for: News junkies, spelunkers.

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