It’s the end, moron (well, almost)

I learned today that the Best of Fest films showing in Salt Lake are Chasing Ice, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Surrogate, all of which I have seen. Sadly, this means that Sundance is ending one day sooner than I expected. However, I will be back tomorrow with a mega update on all of the film reviews that I fell behind on (oh, say 10 of them)!

I started the day at The Words, directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal and featuring a star-studded cast including Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde.  This was a story within a story within a story – in short, a movie about a book about a plagiarized book – but was knit together well.

I actually quite liked the love story (the most interior of the layers), but while it had potential to stand on its own, I was not fully emotionally engaged in the relationship because I had relatively little time with the characters as a result of the structure of the film.  The heavily emphasized moral of the story was to make decisions but be willing to live with the consequences.

Surprisingly, the directors showed up for Q&A on this very last day!  This was such a treat; I typically expect everyone to be gone by this point.  They spent much of the time saying, “well, what did you think?” to audience members asking for interpretation or explanation, but did mention that they occasionally considered the four male leads to be images of one man in different stages of his life.

Upon further questioning afterwards, they also explained that they considered the emotional trauma of plagiarism to be as bad as the consequences of public exposure.  Although the directors reiterated the statement that the fraudulent author is “fucked,” I still find myself feeling that he should have suffered some other repercussions.

I originally intended to head to Robot and Frank but didn’t make it, and so my day ended at Room 237, a New Frontier documentary about conspiracy theories regarding Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  Ugh.  There were many things I didn’t like about this film.

To start, the interviewees were never seen on film – their comments were accompanied by clips from The Shining and other films – and so I found the content difficult to process and the organization easy to lose track of.  Moreover, the theories were utterly ridiculous and I wish the directors had either laughed at them or taken them completely seriously.  There were typical Nazi allegories, sexual innuendos, and more.

I, however, got fed up and left early (I think for the first time ever) after hearing one man delve into the meaning behind the blood rushing from the elevators without the doors opening – while I watched them open.  Also, another man said that the capital letters seen in one shot, “ROOM N” could only be rearranged to spell “moon” and “room” and this was evidence that Apollo 13 did not land on the moon and that Kubrick filmed the faux footage.  WRONG, I say! “ROOM N” can also be rearranged to spell “MORON.”

On that note, I’ll end this post.  As I said before, I’ll be back tomorrow to finish everything up.

~Nan

Day 5 – Films #13, #14, #15, #16

SCORE at half-time:

Kate – 16 (distracted by household and other obligations, not fully on vacation)
Nan – 14 (pretty dang good considering she is a full-time student

At this point in the week, I’m moving pretty slowly and am not having an easy time pulling my thoughts together, but will do my best.  Photos coming.  Haiku on suspension.

The Other Dream Team (US Documentary):  This movie is everything that China Heavyweight should have been, but wasn’t.  Through the life/experience of 4 members of the 1988 USSR and 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball teams, we watch the political trials and fortunes of Lithuania from post-WWI to the present.  You can’t help but to cheer when they finally beat Russia for the bronze.  But what is with those Grateful Dead t-shirts, and that funny smell in the room?  Another must see.

Can (World Dramatic): The title is confusing.  The “C” in Turkish is pronounced like a soft “J”.  “Can” is probably the equivalent of “John” in English.  It is the name of the child who is the film’s subject.

Can is my favorite film thus far at this festival.  This Turkish story focuses on an infertile couple who decide to “adopt” a child.  The decision has a profound effects on the mother, father and child.  Told in realtime and with flashbacks, the story is emotionally profound, coherent, and authentic.  The child speaks only a few words at the end of the movie, but is luminous throughout.  Go see this film.

Bestiaire (New Frontier):  You have to hand it to the director.  It isn’t easy to create a film, while avoiding any semblance of a storyline.  It also isn’t easy to watch.  If you want to be filmicly challenged, just about anything in the New Frontier is a good choice.  It is good to see on once a year to remind yourself of the extensive boundary of the art of film.

New Frontier Shorts (New Frontier):  This was a collection of four “short” (the most interminable being 39 minutes) experiential films.  I’ll focus on one of them: The Monkey King, the 39 minute one.  There were something like 11,000 submissions to Sundance, of which something like 200 total are chosen for screening.  Pretty long odds, right?  So we’re watching this film and thinking, “You had to choose this one?  So just how bad were the rest of them?”  The annoyance and derisive laughter of the audience grows throughout the screening.  Several viewers walk out.  About 2/3s of the way through the screen goes black, as if it is over, and everyone cheers because it is over.  But no, 20 seconds later the film starts up again with the same Jackson Pollock-style image rotating erratically on the screen.  The audience boos in horror.  When the credits finally start to roll, someone starts to clap.  Another patron yells out: “Don’t do that, they might be faking us out again.”  Like I said, New Frontier once a year is great.  Twice in in an evening, well, uh . . .

That ended Tuesday at Sundance.