The 11 Nerdiest Movies of Sundance 2014

By Amy Nicholson in Daily Lists, Movies
Monday, January 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

5. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

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In 2001, 29-year-old Takako Konishi from Tokyo froze to death in the Minnesota snow. The cause of death was suicide, but rumor had it she'd traveled 6,000 miles in search of the buried fortune from Fargo. Alas, the Coens were kidding when they said it was inspired by a true story. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is fiction turned tragedy turned fiction again, with Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim) playing the doomed tourist who, in trying to track down a myth, found herself turned into one. And yes, Alexander Payne, the king of the Midwest, is a producer.

4. Cooties

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An infected chicken nugget turns an entire school into teacher-eating zombies in this goofy horror/comedy starring Elijah Wood, Allison Pill, Jack Brayer and Rainn Wilson. It's a high-concept lark, but first-time directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion don't skimp on the gore or the grim recognition that to survive, these teachers have to kill children. (Even flesh-munching children have parents, and boy, are they going to be upset.) Cooties is more fun than innovative, but you've gotta love its retro-schlock poster.

3 and 2. Love Child and Web Junkie

South Korea is famous for having the fastest Internet in the world. And it's also where two parents got so obsessed with the online game Prius that they let their 3-month-old daughter Sarang (aka Love) starve to death while, ironically, raising a virtual girl called Anima.

Love Child asks if Internet addiction deserves to be a mitigating factor in manslaughter - and the companion documentary Web Junkie answers yes. In China, Internet addiction is legally classified as a disease. Web Junkie embeds itself in Chinese rehab camps where military instructors and therapists force the country's lonely only children to put down the mouse. If this is the future, it's time to back away from the computer and go outside for a walk.

1. The Raid 2: Berandal

This bigger, bloodier, more bone-breaking sequel to the 2011 surprise genre hit doesn't quite measure up to the hype. Despite its two-and-a-half hour running length and complicated mafia-versus-mafia-versus-mafia-versus-cops plot, it's not the Godfather of action movies. But it is a damned decent action movie with one car chase, two kitchen fights, and three brawlers - Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man and the return of Yayan Ruhian, aka the original's Mad Dog - who have to be seen to be believed.

I preferred the single-location claustrophobia of the original, but judging by the screams and gasps in my theater, most people were delighted that director Gareth Evans gave them exactly what they wanted: more, more, more.

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For more Amy Nicholson, check out her work every week in the LA Weekly.


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