Archive for 2014

Whitey review

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

The height of James “Whitey” Bulger’s influential rein of the streets of south Boston was before my time, and I didn’t really have any idea of who he was, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to go see a documentary about one of the biggest mobsters in Boston’s history. I mean, how can you go wrong watching a film like that?

Joe Berlinger’s film Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger centers around Bulger’s trial concerning his 32 counts of racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and weapons charges, including his involvement with 19 murders. The trial took place two years after he was captured in 2011, after spending 16 years in hiding on the most wanted list. (more…)

Being Gluten Free at Sundance

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Those who have been to Park City, Utah during the Sundance film festival will most likely tell you about the totally insane food situation. It is not exactly surprising, with the cities population suddenly exploding by at least ten thousand people crowded restaurants are a given. If you do find a restaurant that looks like it has room to spare, it is most likely hosting some sort of private event. There are the occasional free samples to be found, but those are too small and inconsistent to rely on for sustenance. That said, it’s not impossible to find someplace if you’re willing to wait a few minutes. That is, of course, assuming you do not suffer from food allergies.

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Documentary Shorts Program 2

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Redstone Theater - Sundance 2014

Redstone Theater - Sundance 2014

There is a lot of excitement floating around here at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The streets are full of talk about all the films that are playing and people are lining up to get their hands on tickets before they sell out. Although getting tickets for the film of your choice is proving to be quite difficult, I am so glad I was able to register for some short films before arriving. The short films here at Sundance are sometimes forgotten about, but deserve much more attention. I’ve seen a total of 3 shorts programs and have enjoyed all of them for different reasons, but the shorts documentary program 2 that I saw today has been my favorite so far, and it wasn’t just because I got to see Robert De Niro. The documentary shorts program 2 had a total of three films. The first, I Think this is the Closest to How the Footage Looked, directed by Yuval Hameiri and Michal Vaknin was a touching and creative film about a personal experience of Yuval Hameiri. Yuval’s mother was very ill and his father had spent some time filming her the day before she passed away. The day after Yuval’s mother had passed, his father picked up the camera again to film the empty space where she had once been, but had not known that Yuval had rewound the tape in the camera so his father was unknowingly recording over the footage of his wife’s last day alive. (more…)

Bodily Fluids and Avocado Sex: A Review of “Wetlands”

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Carla Juri is Helen in Wetlands

Carla Juri is Helen in "Wetlands"

There is so much going on in Park City this week that it really is impossible to do it all. Amid the big-name features, poignant documentaries and parties filled with beautiful people (and the fat guy from “Lost”), one film seems to be on everyones tongue: “Wetlands,” or as people have been referring to it, the film about the girl who masturbates with vegetables.

Billed by Buzzfeed as “The Most WTF, NSFW (what the fuck, not safe for work) Movie At This Year’s Sundance Film Festival,” the German film is much more than that, but you still will be squirming throughout. Adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name, it is a female coming-of-age picture that makes other popular coming-of-age pictures look like children’s programming on PBS.

Helen (Carla Juri) is, in her own words, a “living pussy hygiene experiment,” whose life has been shaped by her neurotic, tormenting mother and careless but vaguely loving father. Brought up to be extra vigilant about cleanliness, especially in regards to femininity, Helen throws it all out the window when her parents get divorced following the birth of her younger brother.
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The best of Shorts Program 2

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
Shorts 2 Program Q&A session

My first full day at Sundance was nothing but shorts. I had two shorts programs to see, and it’s not that I wasn’t excited to see them, but I did have my reservations. I’ve seen some really great shorts, but there are also plenty that leave me feeling pretty unsatisfied. It takes something special for a short to really grab you and rise above the limitations of the format (the main one obviously being time). However, some of the shorts I saw really blew me away, and I’m definitely looking forward to the remaining sets. (more…)

The Babadook

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is an interesting take on the “haunting” sub-genre of horror. It tells the story of Amelia, who was widowed by a horrible car crash on their way to the hospital to have their son. Seven years later, her son Samuel is a social outcast who suffers from night terrors, and she is haunted by images of her dead husband and her desire for companionship. After finding a disturbing book in their house, a presence begins to haunt their every waking moment.

Like the best horror, this film is deliberate and slow. The disturbing tone is established early on, but not overtly so. In the beginning, their house has the creepy feel that many old homes share, with it’s creaking doors and a sinister basement. It is made clear that Amelia ignores Samuels many developmental issues, choosing to take him out of school when the headmaster suggests he be given a personal aid after bringing a homemade crossbow to campus. We also find that she chooses to have his birthday two weeks early with his cousin because she doesn’t want to celebrate anything on the day her husband died. In fact, Amelia’s obvious failings as a parent before the haunting are the part that personally unsettled me the most, and work well within the overarching narrative.

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What is Independent Film?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

In the past week, I have heard a lot about what independent film is through our class and I believe that I have realized how Independent film and its culture tries to define itself despite its reach across several different sub-genres such as horror and romance. I have learned that these films can be categorized as “Indies” depending on several traits both in the artistic vision of the film and it’s conception.

As far as artistic vision is concerned, an independent film is more likely to take experimental points of view that would not normally be approved of by the executives of the studio system. Popular and controversial viewpoints in the past have included gay and female protagonists that become empowered in some way through out the course of the story. There will also be a sense of anti-Hollywood through this decision. By throwing off the worry about how the film will sell in the major box office, filmmakers are given freedom from the restraints of having to please a mass audience. The stories become more personal and tend to reflect the filmmaker themselves. They also become more experimental in how they are filmed, with the filmmakers playing with narrative structure and cinematography.

This is where the difference in film production comes in. Due to the lack of studio support during the physical production and conception of a project, independent films are wiped of their budgets. Filmmakers will work with smaller budgets that are only a small fraction of what the studio system invests in their films, which I would argue would become both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse due to the limited resources that a filmmaker will have to achieve their vision. It’s not easy to film a high speed chase without the money for the cars, the actors, the cameras, etc. At the same time, by achieving a level of success with this smaller budget such as in Quentin Tarantino’s earlier action films or The Blair Witch Project, which earned 60,000 more than it’s original budget, according to Jessica Winter’s “A Rough Guide to American Independent Film”, the success seems to skyrocket the filmmakers’ success since studio will see that the filmmaker can save money and stay in budget.

What Indie Film Means To Me

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

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What is an Independent Film according to Maggie

Thursday, January 16th, 2014


In the 1980’s when movies like “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” and “Star Wars” came out, the movie industry realized that they could make a lot of money from just one film. This switched their focus to making a large, popular blockbuster that appealed to a large audience and, in turn, made more money. An independent film almost seems to defy these sets of ideals. Michael Newman’s “Indie: An American film culture” aims to capture the spirit or core of what an independent film is today. There are many strategies he suggests that sets these films apart from mainstream cinema. (more…)

Independent Film According to Heckler

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

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Independent Film According to Heckler