10 Days of Sundance

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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Sundance13 Sets Spotlight, Midnight And New Frontier

Gatekeepers, Mud, No, Sightseers, Stories We Tell, Ass-Backwards, S-VHS Sundance13 Sets Spotlight, Midnight And New Frontier

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Sundance Preview: US Dramatic Competition

Back in 2008, Zeitlin made a critically lauded short film, Glory at Sea, which played at SXSW. A couple hours before his film was set to screen, Zeitlin was critically injured in a car wreck, shattering his hip and breaking his pelvis. Less than a year later, Zeitlin’s script for Beasts of the Southern Wild was accepted by the Sundance Institute, where it went through the Screenwriters Lab, the Director’s Lab, the Producer’s Lab, AND won the NHK Filmmaker Award.

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Review: Terri

Note: This review ran earlier this year during Sundance. I’m re-running it today because Terri opens in limited release. Go see it. It’s great. Terri, the latest effort by Azazel Jacobs (Momma’s Man) is everything a coming-of-age story should be: it’s honest, it’s real, it’s completely unpretentious, and it utterly lacks any whiff of the…

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DP/30 @ Sundance: Reagan, Eugene Jarecki

Being released just in time for Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, political documentarian Eugene Jarecki (The Trials Of Henry Kissinger/Why We Fight) delivers a powerful film covering the life, politics, and ideas of Ronald Reagan. We talked about the work at Sundance.

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DP/30 @ Sundance: Being Elmo, director Constance Marks

The remarkable story of Kevin Clash’s passionate dream come true, brought to the screen by director Constance Marks.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.”

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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.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“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

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg