How to Talk About Movies You Haven’t Seen

SundanceLast month, French author Pierre Bayard’s How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read caused a minor ripple in the literary world. With the lineup for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival recently announced, a similar challenge is now leveled at cineastes eager to discuss movies that have yet to be screened. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Speculate based on the past. Start with Blind Date. Stanley Tucci’s first outing as a writer-director-actor was Big Night, still a highpoint in his career. Here he’s helming and starring in a remake of the late Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s film of the same name. Co-star Patricia Clarkson (High Art) has never given a bad performance so rave about her sight unseen.

2. Stick to the facts. Cinematographer Ellen Kuras has shot over 30 films and worked with a variety of talented directors, among them Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind),Ted Demme (Blow), and Spike Lee (Summer of Sam). For Nerakhoon (The Betrayal), she ventures out on her own with a documentary about Laotian refugees. Keep your commentary to the immigrant experience and don’t worry whether she’ll favor a look that’s disjointed and gritty or dreamy and lyrical. She’s capable of both.

3. Talk up the unknown. Towelhead, the big screen adapation of Alicia Erian’s novel, has plenty of talent on board. There’s novice director Alan Ball, the screewriter behind American Beauty and HBO’s Six Feet Under. He’s joined by actors Aaron Eckhardt (Thank You for Smoking), Maria Bello (A History of Violence), and Peter Macdissi, who played the menacing art professor in Six Feet Under. But the central character is a troubled Arab-American teenager living in Texas and played by relative unknown Summer Bishil. Predict her success.

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