10 Days of Sundance Archive for January, 2013

Sundance Review: Prince Avalanche

There is humor here, but of the gentle, nudging, self-aware kind more than broad slapstick, save for one scene toward the end that injects a quick dose of mostly painless comic relief. But mostly there is an excavation of character going on here, as Alvin sorts and sifts through his own understanding of who he is and his place in the world. A letter for Alvin forces him to reassess his own life and understanding of himself and his relationship, causing him to dig, as it were, through his own ashes in search of the answers to where he’s veered off track in his own life.

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Wrapping Up Sundance, Pt 1: The Not-Docs

Sundance is still easily the most important film festival in the world for American independents. It is pretty well run. They have pretty good taste. And even the swag shite that journalists love to mock as they try to figure out how to snag a pair of jeans that will make their ass look like J-Lo’s and their chests look like either Scarlett Johansson or Taylor Whomever is not nearly as rampant as it once was.

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Sundance Reviews: Cutie and the Boxer, Fallen City

There is vividness of color here, and contrast between the pair’s struggles in the real world and the way in which they express themselves artistically. Like all artists, including no doubt many of the filmmakers with films at Sundance, for Ushio and Noriko the financial struggles of an artist being able to survive while still creating are a constant source of tension, but there’s never a time when either of them says, well, we’re not getting rich of this, so we should give it up and get a steady job to pay the bills. They fight and they struggle, but the art and being able to keep creating it remains at the forefront of their relationship through it all.

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2013 Sundance Film Festival Awards

For Immediate Release January 26, 2013 2013 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FEATURE FILM AWARD. Blood Brother, Fruitvale, A River Changes Course and Jiseul Earn Grand Jury Prizes Audience Favorites Include Blood Brother, Fruitvale, The Square (Al Midan), Metro Manila and This is Martin Bonner Park City, UT — Sundance Institute this evening announced the Jury,…

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Sundance Review: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

The performance footage is most engaging, when we see the girls of Pussy Riot rehearsing and performing; it’s guerrilla activism, shot guerrilla style, and it’s just great that it was even captured for historical purposes, given that the Pussy Riot collective has become a big enough deal to be of note as one of the more relevant and effective activist groups of our time, along with Occupy. Interviews with the girls’ parents round things out nicely, giving us a broader perspective on who these young women are.

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Sundance Review: Upstream Color

The patterns of nature and mathematics – and the breaking of those patterns which in turn make new patterns – are heavily threaded throughout the structure of this film, and the complexity of the ideas it explores and the way in which it inevitably requires the audience to actively participate in seeking to understand it is very much like a cinematic Socratic Circle. Socrates taught that all thinking derives from asking questions; the aim therefore is not to arrive at one right answer, but that asking one question should lead to further questions, and from this collective back-and-forth we construct meaning and answers.

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Sundance Review: Blood Brother

Perhaps it was some deeper spiritual call, a desire to strip away the typically materialistic Western values with which he’d been raised, to find the purity in a life of giving to others rather than taking from them. Or perhaps Rocky simply found in the children of that orphanage the closeness of family and unconditional love that he lacked at home. Whatever the case, he also found he didn’t want to leave. These kids needed him, and perhaps he needed them as well.

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Sundance Review: Escape from Tomorrow

A pair of flirtatious young French girls catches Jim’s eye, and soon he’s following them around the park, dragging his young son along with him for the ride, and getting increasingly shameless in revealing his lust as the film progresses. How much of the girls’ flirtation is real and how much is Jim’s delusion is left to you to judge, though given the rest of what’s happening here, I think it’s maybe a little of both; regardless, it’s a lot creepy, this middle-aged man trolling after a pair of young girls, but it also makes a statement of sorts about sexual fantasy and objectification that one doesn’t expect to overtly find in a film about Disney anything.

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Sundance Review: We Are What We Are

There are some terrific performances in this film, most notably from Childers and Garner, who move seamlessly from wide-eyed naivete to fierce protectiveness. And man, is this a gorgeous, well-put together film, with frame after carefully composed frame of black and blue color palette sumptuously filling the screen, light and shadow effectively evoking mood, some nicely literary use of metaphor, and a score that moves things along without being heavy-handed or manipulative. The contrast of the beauty with which the film is shot and its macabre subject matter creates its own sort of tension that quite effectively serves the story.

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Sundance Review: Kill Your Darlings

Radcliffe flawlessly takes Ginsberg on his journey from naïve middle-class Jersey boy to awakening young writer, from an emerging poet inspired by the casting aside of tradition and structure of Walt Whitman to the early stages of manic creative energy that shaped the influential writer he would grow to become. It’s terrific to see Radcliffe making such smart choices in his post-Harry Potter career, establishing himself as a young actor who’s pushing himself and stretching far beyond what anyone might have imagined.

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Sundance Review: When I Walk

As part of coming to terms with the new and ever-shifting “normal” that would be the rest of his life, DaSilva followed his instinct, picked up his camera, and turned it on himself. This project could have devolved into the maudlin and self-absorbed; instead DaSilva’s strength and resilience, his determination to stay positive – bolstered in part by his relentlessly positive mother, who’s prone to calling him out on any over-privileged American kid whining and reminding him constantly that we only have one life to live, and have to make the most of it – is what shines through every frame of his story.

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Sundance Review: After Tiller

Imagine being pregnant with a lovingly anticipated child, having what you thought was a normal pregnancy, preparing the baby’s room, dreaming about the future the child kicking inside you will have – and then learning late in the pregnancy that your child has something terribly wrong with it, so wrong that the most humane choice you can make is to allow a doctor to gently euthanize him in the womb so that you can go through the pain of labor and delivery to push forth your already dead child. I know women who have had to make that awful choice. I’m grateful I never had to.

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Sundance Review: Who is Dayani Cristal?

By failing to include any perspective at all from the other side of the immigration discussion, the filmmakers miss an opportunity here to answer those arguments with reasoned and impassioned counterpoints and proposed solutions. This lack of objectivity works to the film’s detriment as anything much beyond emotional tug-and-pull by spoon-feeding the viewer with what they should feel, rather than offering compelling arguments from both sides, stirring debate, and leaving it to the audience to decide what they think and feel about this issue for themselves.

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Sundance 2013 Preview: US Documentary Competition Picks

Much like last year’s US Dramatic preview, my curtain-raiser on the US Documentary competition for the 2012 Sundance is packed with notable alumni: Chasing Ice, Detropia, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Queen of Versailles all played at Park City last January. This year’s slate could potentially be just as solid. Here are my picks.

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Sundance 2013 Preview: US Dramatic Competition Picks

Finally, finally! Upstream Color, the long-awaited second film from do-it-all-yourself Primer director Shane Carruth arrives at Sundance off some pretty heady buzz at New York pre-fest screenings. Primer, in case you don’t know, is an astounding, complex sci-fi indie that was shot for $7,000 and went on to snatch the Sundance Grand Jury prize in 2004 from films like Napolean Dynamite and Garden State. It’s also one of my favorite indie films of the past decade and I, like many of you, have been eagerly anticipating Carruth making another film. I am super excited to get my eyeballs on this film. Must. See.

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Sundance13 Preview: Women of U.S. Dramatic

In honor of the Sundance Film Festival’s decision to invite an equal amount of men and women to compete in the U.S. Dramatic Competition (and perhaps recent discrepancies in representation, as seen in the 2012 Palme d’Or Competition), a look at the eight female director-screenwriters who will vie for the Grand Jury Prize Dramatic: who they are, how you may know them, and what they’ve done so far.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima