10 Days of Sundance Archive for January, 2011

Sundance Dispatch: It’s a Wrap

Another Sundance Film Festival has wrapped, and I have to say, it was a helluva good year to be in Park City. The logistical nightmare of the P&I line the first five or so days of the fest was a serious pain in the ass, but overall I’d have to say this year’s Sundance programming…

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: The Future

What do you do when you’re paralyzed by fear of failing, of moving forward into the future, of getting older? Of facing the fact that you have a finite amount of time to do everything you ever wanted to do, or thought you would do with your life, but realizing suddenly that you’re nearing the…

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Sundance Review: The Catechism Cataclysm and Septien

The Catechism Cataclysm One of the weirdest — and funniest — films I saw at Sundance was The Catechism Cataclysm. I’m not sure it’s even possible to discuss this film in a way that makes sense, because I’m not sure the film itself even does make sense, but it sure as hell made me laugh…

Read the full article » 4 Comments »

Sundance Reviews: Vampire and Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

Simon’s not a vampire, not really. He’s just a guy who digs the taste of blood, who’s drawn to killing girls in this particular way, and in particular, he’s very invested in the idea that he is not a bad guy, but a good one. He’s helping these girls, not hurting them — even though he knows on the other hand that’s not exactly what you might call “objectively true.”

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: The Lie

Josh Leonard’s adaptation of The Lie, T. Coraghessan Boyle’s 2008 New Yorker short story, is an excellent take on the tale of an idealistic young couple whose lives have veered away from the values they had when they first met, after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to shoulder the responsibility of parenthood.

Read the full article »

Searchlight Lands On Another Earth

Searchlight Lands On Another Earth

Read the full article »

Sundance Dispatch: Homework and Hell and Back Again

We’re officially over the halfway point at Sundance, and already I’m feeling a little glumness trickling in at the thought of this year’s Sundance nearing its end.This morning, of course, were the Oscar noms, and along with most everyone here for Sundance I dragged my bleary-eyed self out of bed at the asscrack of dawn…

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: Pariah

The most gut-wrenching-yet-uplifting film I’ve seen so far at Sundance this year so far is Pariah, which has been getting some mixed buzz. Yes, yes, I know that gut-wrenching-yet-uplifting is practically its own genre here at Sundance, but like many cliches there’s some truth in the stereotype. And Pariah is so moving, so remarkably acted…

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Sundance Dispatch: Rants and Raves

It’s officially Day Four for me here at the Sundance Film Festival, and so far I have yet to see a film I actively dislike at the fest — which, if you’ve ever been to Sundance, you know is a bit of a minor miracle. Granted, I’ve been cherry-picking those films that I think have…

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

I’ll say this about Morgan Spurlock: there’s no one quite like him. Especially when he’s wearing comfy Merrell shoes (hey, they have great arch support) while feeling Ban fresh!, and driving a stylish Mini-Cooper plastered with ads while sipping some refreshing POM Pomegranate juice on his way to catch a fight on JetBlue Airlines.

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene explores the aftermath of a young girl’s involvement with a cult living on an isolated farm in the Catskills. The thoughtful script by writer/director Sean Durkin is a character study crafted as a deliberately paced psychological thriller, with Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and an accomplished theatrical actress…

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Sundance Review: Project Nim

With Man on Wire, director James Marsh took a story that necessitated being pieced together with reflective interviews and archival footage of past events and wove it all together into a cohesive whole that resonated powerfully as it told the history of Phillipe Petit, a daredevil who pulled off a number of dangerous and unbelievable…

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: Kaboom

I’ll say this up front: Gregg Araki’s Kaboom is not for everyone. If, however, you enjoy completely crazy, immensely creative tales (and I mean crazy in the best Donnie Darko sense), and you’re neither homophobic nor averse to graphic sexual scenes (both hetero and homo), and you’re willing to forgive a few plot twists that,…

Read the full article »

Sundance Review: Silent House

I admit to being a bit paranoid about big spooky houses and things that go bump in the night. I can’t imagine that I would ever choose to live in a big, rambling old house so isolated from civilization that my cell phone wouldn’t work in an emergency. That’s just asking for trouble. And if…

Read the full article »

Sundance Dispatch: Good News, Bad News

The good news was, I flew Southwest, where Bags Fly Free!(tm) So I was able to bring two bags. Major bonus, because that meant I could bring more boots! And a stash of food cheaper than it would cost me at The Market Formerly Known As Albertsons. The bad news was, my flight was delayed…

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin