Posts Tagged ‘sundance’

52 Tuesdays review

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Sophie Hyde’s, 52 Tuesdays is innovative in both in content and in production. It is the story of a teenage girl’s mother undergoing the transformation from female to male, which is a pretty timely topic of debate today, but it’s not the typical story a Hollywood studio would pick up. It is also a topic that could potentially not sit well with an audience, but I think the film was well put together.

When Billie’s (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) mother tells her that she will be taking a year to go through the transformation to a male, it also means that she will have to live with her father for the year. The relationship of Billie and her mother is set up to be very deep and entwined, so Billie is put off at this idea, but supports her mother’s decision. They agree to meet every Tuesday for six hours so they are not completely cut off from each other. (more…)

No No and To Be Takei: The Heart of Sundance

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Near the beginning of the festival, I overheard a conversation between two people in the box office. One man, obviously a veterin of the festival, said that all the indie films were nice, but that the real heart of Sundance is in the documentaries. That the festival gives voices to so many amazing stories that would have otherwise been lost is why he kept coming back every year. I have not yet seen all the films I Want to at this festival yet, but juding by the two documentaries I have seen so far, I am already inclined to agree with that sentiment.

The first, To Be Takei, tells the life story of George Takei, an actor and human rights activist, whose most remembered role is that of private Sulu on the original run of Star Trek. It’s an amazing story, as the man has been through so many struggles in his life, from his families internment during World War II to having to hide his sexuality from the public in fear of ruining his carrear. That this film is about someone who faced the things he did and come out as cheerful and full of life as he is now would be enough to carry a documentaryby itself. Luckily, director Jennifer M. Kroot went above and beyond, as the film is beautifully shot and edited. Even with the heavy subject matter, George’s quick whit and the well timed editing also make the film absolutely hilarious.

The second, No No: A Dockumentary, tells the life story of Dock Ellis, who is now famous for pitching a no hitter while under the influence of LSD. After seeing this film, however, I now know that remembering him only for that is an absolute tragedy. Dock was an unrelenting force, both on and off the field. He was a surprisingly significant force in shaping race relations in America, and was the spark that lead to the first all black starting line-up in the major league. By virtue of his character this film too has a comedic bent, and is also wonderfully directed and edited. Hopefully film will be a driving force for remembering Dock for his better years, and not for the time that he forgot a day in a drug fueled haze.

The Raid 2 and The Worst Theater Experience of my Life

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The Raid 2 is a fantastic film. It’s a basically perfect continuation of the previous film, with the same brutal action expanded upon by the increased budget. Like most martial arts action movies, the story is a fairly generic tale about a cop who must go undercover to protect his family. Unlike them, the story is actually pretty well executed, with dialogue that is notable for being overwhelmingly decent. I’m not here to talk about this film, however. Instead, I want to talk about my experience in the theater that night, as it was no doubt the worst experience in a theater that I’ve ever had. So many little annoyances compounded on each other that I swear it was a bad joke.

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Wetlands review

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I left the theater with my mouth open and my mind racing to comprehend what I had just seen after watching David Wnendt’s film, Wetlands. This is by no means a movie for the family to sit down and watch on a Sunday night. In fact, it may be so unholy that it shouldn’t be played on Sunday at all. The film couldn’t go five minutes without the audience shuddering in a flurry of emotion. I don’t have a sensitive stomach at all and even I was fighting my body’s reflex to gag at times. But in all its un-holiness, its gruesome subject, its visceral imagery, it is actually a pretty fantastic film.

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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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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…)

Do The Right Thing Review

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Radio Raheem explains love and hate.

Radio Raheem explains love and hate.

After the relative success of his first two joints, She’s Gotta Have It and School Daze, Spike Lee was finally able to produce films on a grander scale. The first of these that he directed, Do The Right Thing, stands as one of the most remarkable films of its era. The story is simple, following the residents of a Brooklyn neighborhood as they try to make it through the hottest day their street had ever seen as long standing racial tensions finally reach their breaking point.

Lee’s bold style comes through in full in force. The street used in the film was painted with reds and oranges in order to emphasize the heat, which when combined with the vibrant costume design makes the film look similar to graffiti of the time. One of the most prominent songs featured on the soundtrack is “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy, the full track even played over the opening credits. Almost all of Lee’s early movies deal with race and the perceptions of black people in American culture, and in that regard this my be his magnum opus.

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3 Defining Aspects of Indie Film (As Compared to Hollywood Film)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

It’s almost time for the Sundance Film Festival. Know what that means? Lots and lots of those groovy “independent” movies all the kids are talking about! But if you’re reading up on indie films, you may find yourself wondering just what makes one particular film “independent.” Independent from what exactly? Are some movies dependent on something? And what is that thing? Aren’t we all dependent on everything else around us, coexisting symbiotically in this big, beautiful organism we call Earth, unless, of course, you’re the subject of Kelly Clarkson’s classic song, Miss Independent?

Never thought Id see that pop-culture reference again.

Never thought you'd see that reference again.

Maybe. I don’t have all the answers. You could try asking that guy Jeeves, but my little Kelly Clarkson reference was still relevant the last time anyone went to that site. (more…)

Sherman’s March

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Pat, the first subject of Ross affection, goes for a dipIt’s hard to comprehend exactly how a guy could get away with making a two and a half hour film called Sherman’s March about southern women and himself but that’s just what Ross McElwee did with his 1986 indie doc classic. The film treads the line between documentary and mockumentary with relative ease and keeps you smiling along the way. The film begins like a PBS special, an ominous voice over a map showing the route of Union Maj. William Tecumseh Sherman’s infamous march toward the sea, noting its residual impact on the formerly confederate states. However, the film quickly shifts direction when McElwee explains how he has just received a grant to shoot his historical documentary about Sherman’s March but, because his girlfriend Ann dumped him the day he planned to begin filming, decides instead to join his family on an annual wilderness retreat. Thus begins Ross McElwee’s epic and lustful journey to court–or at least explore the subject of–southern women.

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