Sundance: “Red Lights,” “Simon Killer” and the “West of Memphis” premiere

By Sean O’Connell The big news out of Sundance 2012 has been the bitter cold. And the snow. And then the cold. And a little more on the snow, which continues to fall over Park City.

But in between snowflakes, moviegoers are taking in this year’s programming. Here’s what we are finding out about films that will be reaching theaters near you throughout the year:

– The premiere of the Peter Jackson-produced “West of Memphis,” an up-to-date documentary on the wrongfully jailed West Memphis Three, drew anger and tears of frustration from the gathered crowd. Jeff Wells calls it the “best film with Peter Jackson’s name on it since ‘Heavenly Creatures.’”

– Wells was less impressed with Antonio Campos’ “Simon Killer,” which he referred to as “an empty, meandering audience-torture film about sex and nihilism and stupidity in Paris.” James Rocchi at MSN, however, gave “Killer” a 4-out-of-5 grade, saying it was “A tense, grim & gorgeous story of the unknown heart.” Do with that what you will.

– Few were divided on “Red Lights,” the latest from “Buried” director Rodrigo Cortes. Daniel Feinberg at HitFix calls it “a generally infuriating and occasionally intriguing muddle of a movie that spins wildly out of control in its final half-hour, climaxing in a two-minute montage of voiceover and exposition that either does or doesn’t turn the rest of the movie upside-down in maddening fashion.” Yikes. The L.A. Times added that “all of the buyers were there, but just 45 minutes into the movie, many of them bolted for the exits, a noisy exodus of dozens of executives.” Oh boy.

More Sundance coverage still to come …

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