‘Robot and Frank’
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Sundance 2012: Films to see in Park City

‘Robot and Frank’
This film is set in the future and stars an impeccable Frank Langella as an aging man living alone. His children feel he needs the help of the UGC-60L, a home care robot. Initially resistant, Frank finds the gifted robot has skills that rekindle his interest in his unusual former line of work. Director: Jake Schreier. Screenwriter: Christopher Ford. Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler. (Park Pictures Features)
‘Safety Not Guaraneeed’
A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner behind the ad and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Director: Colin Trevorrow. Screenwriter: Derek Connolly. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni. (Benjamin Kasulke)
‘For Ellen’
“For Ellen” stars a hard-edged Paul Dano in one of his best performances as a self-absorbed hipster-rocker who has to make hard choices about the young daughter he barely knows. “For Ellen’” is a quiet film, never in a hurry, but So Yong Kim has such mastery of emotional and psychological mood that we are enthralled. Director and screenwriter: So Yong Kim. Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo. (Carolyn Drake)
‘Filly Brown’
A hip-hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music. Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos. Screenwriter: Youssef Delara. Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos. (John Castillo)
‘LUV’
Common as a charismatic ex-con trying to stay on the right side of the law and face his 11-year-old nephew. Director: Sheldon Candis. Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton. (Bill Gray)
‘The First Time’
Two high-schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice. (Gemma La Mana)
‘Wish You Were Here’
One of the most entertaining films this year is the Australian “Wish You Were Here,” a crisply commercial psychological thriller starring Joel Edgerton about how bad things that happen on a Cambodian vacation don’t necessarily stay in Cambodia. Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith. Screenwriters: Felicity Price, Kieran Darcy-Smith. Cast: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr. (Lisa Tomasetti)
‘The Last Elvis (El Ultimo Elvis)’
Also worth a look is Argentina’s “The Last Elvis,” about a top Buenos Aires Elvis impersonator (a splendid John McInery) facing a crisis in his life. Director: Armando Bo. Screenwriters: Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo. Cast: John McInerny, Griselda Siciliani, Margarita Lopez. World premiere (Pablo Ramos)
‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’
A look at the remarkable life and philosophy, observed over three years, of the man called “the most powerful artist in the world” because of how he transitioned from art-world issues to broader social issues by taking on the government of China. Director: Alison Klayman. (Alison Klayman)
‘Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present’
Compelling insights into the world of a drop-dead fascinating individual, the transgressive performance artist is observed as she prepares for and participates in the Museum of Modern Art show that will transform her career. Director: Matthew Akers. (HBO)
‘The Queen of Versailles’
Lauren Greenfield’s candid and disturbing new film about a couple who attempted to build the largest house in America. Director: Lauren Greenfield. (Lauren Greenfield)
‘The Imposter’
A truly disturbing film about how a European man managed to pass himself off as a teenage boy from San Antonio who had disappeared from his family three years earlier. Director: Bart Layton. (Erik Wilson)
‘Ethel’
A profile of Ethel Kennedy by her youngest child, Rory, that provides a sense of what it means to be in that family. Director: Rory Kennedy. (Getty)
‘Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World’
A look at Episcopalian Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in Christendom. Director: Macky Alston. (Gillian Laub)
‘Searching for Sugar Man’
A look at how forgotten singer-songwriter Rodriguez became the toast of South Africa even though he was presumed dead. Director: Malik Bendjelloul. (Sundance Film Festival)
‘Under African Skies’
Joe Berlinger’s examination of how Paul Simon’s trip to South Africa to record “Graceland” became political dynamite. Director: Joe Berlinger. (Paul Simon Private Collection)
‘The Invisible War’
The best of the issue-oriented documentaries is Kirby Dick’s incendiary “The Invisible War” about rape in the military. Director: Kirby Dick. (Sundance Film Festival)
‘Big Boys Gone Bananas!*'
Another involving documentary is “Big Boys Gone Bananas!*,’ about how corporate giant Dole Food Co. played hardball with a vengeance when director Fredrik Gertten’s previous film, “Bananas!*" came out. Director: Fredrik Gertten (Sundance Film Festival)
‘The Law in These Parts’
A detailed and nuanced look at how Israel constructed a legal system for the occupied territories and had to face the reality that “order and justice don’t always go hand in hand.” Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz. (Shark De Mayo)
‘Room 237'
“Room 237" is as strange as they come. It presents the theories of obsessive moviegoers who see in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” all manner of hidden and sinister meanings. When one of these viewers says, “it’s certainly not accidental,” it’s time to head for the hills. Director: Rodney Ascher. (Rodney Ascher)
‘Buffalo Girls’
At the concurrent Slamdance Film Festival also in Park City, a documentary called “Buffalo Girls” introduces the bizarre world of child boxing in Thailand. Director: Todd Kellstein. (Slamdance Film Festival)
‘Wild in the Streets’
A documentary playing at Slamdance that investigates a chaotic British sport called mass football that features a 1,000-year-old conflict that might be the oldest sports rivalry on Earth. Director: Peter Baxter. ()
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