Steve Jobs is heading to the Sundance Film Festival, at least in the form of look-alike actor Ashton Kutcher.
“jOBS,” the biopic of the Apple entrepreneur with Kutcher in the lead role, will close the Jan. 17-27 festival in Park City, Utah, with a big pop-culture bang, according to the schedule released Monday.
“We’re really excited to have it as the closing night,” says Trevor Groth, the festival’s director of programming. “It’s really an inspirational and entertaining film about a man who has had such a significant impact on the world.”
There has been some skepticism about Kutcher taking on the part of the tech visionary, who died in October 2011. But Groth says the “Two and a Half Men” star excels in the film, which is directed by Joshua Michael Stern.
“My hunch is he got the job because he bears such a striking resemblance to Jobs physically,” Groth says. “But (Kutcher) really owns the performance.”
The festival, which usually draws some of Hollywood’s biggest names, will present gala premieres of 29 documentaries and dramas, whose subject matters include everything from former vice president Dick Cheney to the works of Beat author Jack Kerouac. Among the highlights (full list at sundance.org):
First ‘Sunrise,’ now ‘Midnight.’ “Before Midnight,” the third film in the trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy and directed by Richard Linklater, makes its debut at the place where the first film started all the fuss nearly two decades ago.
In 1995, “Before Sunrise” kicked off the Sundance fest with a tale of two young actors as young lovers in Europe. The series continued with 2004’s “Before Sunset” following the same characters at very different places one decade later. “Before Midnight” completes the trilogy.
“To be able to show this third installment, it’s a very big deal. Especially since it’s such a terrific film,” says Groth. Linklater, Hawke and Delpy “have developed such special chemistry working together.”
“We have a long history with Richard (Linklater) and these films,” adds festival director John Cooper. “And he doesn’t disappoint in this one.”
Gordon-Levitt’s newest role. The directing debut of Sundance favorite son Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been added to the premiere lineup with “Don Jon’s Addiction.”
“He just told us he’s making a movie. And he showed to us. It would hard to reject a film from him,” Cooper says.
The movie features a selfish modern-day Don Juan trying to change his ways and stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Tony Danza.
Second in command. Among the documentary premieres, “The World According to Dick Cheney” promises to bring plenty of discussion. The film, directed by R.J. Cutler and Greg Finton, features the former vice president speaking about his record. No word as to whether Cheney will appear at the festival.
“It’s interesting to see both sides on this persistent debate,” Groth says. “This film is going to have a very interesting presence at the festival.”
Kerouac fever. Sundance continues the revival of interest in Beat writer Jack Kerouac with “Big Sur,” which depicts the author as he deals with his growing celebrity after the publication of such works as On The Road, which itself finally sees a film version in U.S. theaters Dec. 21.
Besides the Michael Polish-directed “Big Sur premiere,” Sundance has another drama featuring a younger Kerouac (played by Jack Huston) in the competition film “Kill Your Darlings.”
Sundance has been seeking to expand its international influence, and the premiere roster features films from British director Michael Winterbottom (“The Look of Love”), French director Anne Fontaine (“Two Mothers”) and South Korean director Chan-Wook Park (“Stoker”).
Six-hour marathon. Australian director Jane Campion’s “Top of the Lake” is a made-for-TV series that runs for six hours. At Sundance, the drama starring Holly Hunter and Elisabeth Moss will have a feature premiere with one extremely long showing.
“Coffee is available at intermission in the lobby,” Groth says.
Hoops hoopla. Director Evan Long’s relationship to former New York Knicks basketball player Jeremy Lin begins long before last season’s craziness on the courts, when the overlooked benchwarmer hit instant stardom. “Linsanity,” the documentary, features the story behind the media phenom.
© USA TODAY. All rights reserved.