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2007 Sundance Film Festival: Dramas

The Sundance Film Festival kicked off on Thursday in Park City, Utah, and I've been busily seeking out the films that look the most promising. I already shared what look to be this year's must-see comedies, and for today's installment, I'm back to introduce you to four more picks, this time in the drama category.

Chapter 27
Given the subject matter (John Lennon's murder) and the star power (Lindsay Lohan, Jared Leto), Chapter 27 is likely to be a mainstream hit in no time. Leto plays Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman as he increasingly turns to J.D. Salinger's book Catcher in the Rye. The anti-hero takes on Holden Caufield's mannerisms and actions until even the film itself seems to merge with the book, with first-person stream of consciousness narration from the future.

Three more dramas, so

Black Snake Moan
This film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake and is directed by Craig Brewer, who gave us the 2005 Sundance favorite, Hustle and Flow. Black Snake Moan introduces Lazarus (Jackson), a love-bitter ex-blues guitarist who comes upon the town tramp, Rae (Ricci), lying beaten on the side of the road. Lazarus takes it upon himself to save her soul, which includes chaining her to his radiator and giving Bible lectures. Brewer is known for his skillful use of music (Hustle and Flow won Best Original Song at lsat year's Academy Awards), and with a release date of February 23rd, you won't have to wait long after the festival to check this one out.

Grace is Gone
John Cusack has finally succumbed to the fact that he's beyond the age when he can realistically play the scruffy, vaguely depressed playboy (as in High Fidelity). Instead, he's going the route of so many favorite actors, like Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams, and playing The Dad. Yet have no fear, he still gets to be moody and distraught as Stanley Phillips, father of two who learns that his wife has died in the Iraq war. He knows he must tell his daughters about their mother's death, but first decides to bring them on a road trip to their favorite amusement park. On the journey, the daughters try to understand their father's strange behavior, and Stanley realizes that he needs to know who his children are before he can help them with this sorrowful turn of events.

As Dakota Fanning matures, it only makes sense that she should take on more complex roles. She gets her chance in Hounddog, playing Lewellen, a spunky Southern girl who finds comfort from her dark memories in the music of Elvis Presley. A difficult tale of abuse and lost innocence, Fanning lends her natural charm to the story, cutting the bleakness with childlike hope.

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