Up until yesterday evening I was feeling kind of meh on the whole. However, after a productive day of studying I went to two good U.S. Dramatic films at Rose Wagner that perked me up.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints: Pretty darn good. A love story between two outlaws destined to be kept apart. Beautiful and sad, with sacrifice and selflessness (or is it selfishness?), forgiveness and acceptance. The storyline was just vague enough that I never fully connected with the main characters and didn’t become invested in their relationship. I wanted a little more information to make me understand and care. Perhaps if I saw this again I might feel differently; this is certainly a film I would see again. I loved the evocative aesthetic; everything was faded and crumbling but almost homey and comfortable, from the worn dresses to the town buildings to the fields and hills of Texas. The director wanted his work to be timeless and he certainly achieved that. The music was great. The director and most of his crew were all a bit cocky and unapproachable in the Q&A.
In A World…: I think this is my favorite film thus far! Comedies are rare at Sundance, and this is an excellent one. As Lake Bell emphasized in the Q&A, this is not a movie about the voiceover industry, it only that happens to be set there. The family issues – egotistic/neglectful/even abusive father, marital strife, growing up – were realistic enough to be relatable and heartfelt, but overdone just enough to be comedic. Really a very well balanced film and not overly ambitious. Lots of fun, I laughed the whole way through.
Now back to the books and hopefully I can squeeze in another movie tonight!
#11 – A Teacher: If you do Sundance in Salt Lake, including Best-Of-Fest screenings, it is possible to see 38 films in 11 days. There was nothing I wanted to see in the Monday 3:00 slot, but it was an opportunity to pull ahead of Ron. The choice was between a shoot-em-up thriller in Manilla, and a teacher-student affair in Texas. I ended up at the latter. There was plenty of white-on-white skin as the participants did what participants do when they are having an affair. Other than that, it was like this is such a disgusting situation.
The director stood for Q&A after. The first question posed was “What do you think that your film is really about?” A moment of thought and then “I think it is really about loneliness, and desperation, and the lengths to which a person will go to justify behavior which she knows is really, really bad.” Hand it to the director, she absolutely nailed it on this.
#12 – Salma: As a documentary, this had some sloppy story-telling, as essential facts were either confusing or simply left out. This became apparent in the Q&A when the audience was asking for clarification of events. Luckily, the careless direction did not diminish the power and grace of the woman featured. Salma’s life and poetry speak for Muslim girls locked away at puberty and contracted for marriage. Her story exposes the ferocity of Muslim men whose concept of life and society is challenged. This film is worth seeing.
#13 – In a World: A break from the overwrought angst of Sundance and an opportunity to laugh and laugh and laugh IS WELCOME!!!!!! For that reason alone this film tops my list. Yes, there is a dysfunctional family, and yes, there is sex (but only a little itty bitty teeny tiny bit, by Sundance standards). None of that matters. This film is just plain funny.