Barb's movies, experiences, and rants (New and improved with ed's comments. Thought-provoking post! -Ed.)January 26
Yesterday, even though I was not feeling too up to par, I decided to go and see Julian Goldberger's second Sundance film, "The Hawk is Dying". The plot was somewhat odd, as it concentrated mainly around "a nobody" auto upholster named George Gattling, performed by Paul Giamatti. The movie was one of those soul-searching flicks that I have come to notice are very particular of other Sundance films, such as "Battle in Heaven" and "The Aura". (Well, this may be simplifying it a bit. Please try not to categorize. It is dangerous. -Ed.)
The movie itself was alright, as far as plot goes, but really the only aspect that kept me interested in this film was Giamatti's acting. I have always been a huge fan of Giamatti, ever since I saw the movies Private Parts and American Splendor (Private Parts?? -Ed.). I feel that he stays true to what independent filmmaking is supposed to be all about: becoming the character and capturing the intimacy instilled within the script. Even though he is one of the more famous actors within the Sundance arena, I'm not so bothered by it because I think he is full of so much talent, that he is able to inahbit his character and not himself within a film. Giamatti is just one of those actors that you know will spellbind you and create a film worthy of watching.
My Take on the Sundance Film Festival:
After over-hearing two journalists discussing their journey from Hungary to a little town called Park City in Utah, I began to realize that this thing is becoming huge. For two weeks, we studied independent film and were constantly asked by Nate what we thought Independent film was. After experiencing an entire week at Sundance, I want to share my honest opinion about what I believe American Independent Cinema is and what the Sundance Film Festival is.
First, I think it is a joke when famous actors want to be in an independent film. I really don't feel like watching Hollywood's face because each time I am thinking "Oh, look how hot Bruce Willis is." Seriously, I don't want to think about his career or his persona; I came here to see the real thing and therefore I don't think that a famous actor can capture the true "indie feel" of an independent film (so independent film somehow embodies something virginal? -Ed.). Aside from my disgust with famous actors at Sundance, I can't help but loathe all of the advertisement and business involved within this festival. Granted, I understand that in order for this festival to flourish, it needs money, but I am still highly against all of the advertising I see. It seems to me that in order for something to be "independent" it should, well... be independent; it should not rely on big businesses for sponsorship.
I am also going to complain about the lines. Come on, we are waiting for MOVIES, it's not even a live concert. Maybe I am just jaded or don't like movies as much as other people, and that is why I find it so ridiculous to have to wait in line for something that isn't even three dimensional (Wait, what? Barb, we need to talk. :) -Ed.).
Not to mention, it's FREEZING HERE. I want to know why the word "sun" is even incorporated in the title... I think they should rename the festival "Come freeze your ass off while you wait in line for a movie that you don't even know you'll enjoy." (Its a leap of faith. Don't we engage in this kind of act everyday? -Ed.) I feel like you are taking such a risk. For instance, I waited in line for three hours to see "The Aura", and I ended up falling asleep for over half of it because I was so exhausted from all of the line lingering (This is really something to think about. These lines admittedly affect the filmwatching experience. -Ed.)
Honestly, one of the only great things about the Sundance Film Festival is all of the cool people I am meeting and the friendships I have made. I also really enjoy the documentaries. Last night I was in such a slum, I thought I would never get out of it, until I saw an awesome documentary about Hip-Hop culture. I saw two more documentaries today, so my attitude towards Sundance isn't as melancholy and malicious as it was yesterday. At least from the documentaries I am learning something valuable and actually feel something while I am watching them (and not to mention staying awake).
So, sorry if this offends anyone, but I had to get it off my chest. I suppose in the end, in my life I want to experience as much as I can, but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it. I am not forcing myself to love Sundance, but I do respect it and all of those people out there trying to make it big, or those trying to change lives, or even those who just love films and film making; more power to you.
Hey, I've been Struggling with that too: Hip-Hop Today...
Last night saved me from going in to a deep, self-loathing solitude. Not only was a sick, but I had to wait in line for a film that I really wasn't sure I was going to be interested in. It was "Beyond Beats and Rhymes": A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture directed and written by Byron Hurt was absolutely spell-binding. Hurt's documentary focuses on his own struggle with hip-hop; on the one hand he loves it because it is part of his culture, as well as loving the beats and rhythms within hip-hop, yet the lyrics and the music videos that rappers such as Nelly, Ja-rule and Mos Def ensue within the media, he feels, is wrong. Most hip-hop songs concentrate on money, bitches, hoes, gangs, stealing, guns, sex, drugs, dealing drugs, etc. Hurt questions famous rappers as well as those aspiring to become famous why he or she feels that this is what manhood is.
Is it a way for the white man to keep the black man down and if so, then why is the rapper keeping this image of himself? Truly, everyone knows that not every black person is the same, whether he or she grew up in the ghetto or not. So why keep rapping about it? Why are they instilling this image upon themselves? (Who is "they"? -Ed.)
Hurt also brings up the issue of homosexuality within hip-hop music and how, even though a true thug would never be gay, there is some sort of homo-eroticism instilled within hip-hop. (For an insightful look into the issue of homo-sexuality in African-American culture, read a book called "On the Down Low". -Ed.) For instance, rapper Snoop Dogg always wants to make sure his boys are "gettin' some too" and how about all of those shirtless pictures of 50 Cent and L.L. Cool J?
I happen to love hip-hop, but I feel the same exact way Hurt does; isn't there more to life than just rapping about how much money you're bringing in and how many bitches you are getting with? (I would like to see this film. But I don't think one can say that this kind of thinking is represented in ALL hip-hop. -Ed.) Not only that, but this idea of masculinity--to be hard--makes men, especially black men, struggle with who they are. This film was so brilliantly laid out (courtesy of Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, editor) and asked so many questions of black-youth hip-hop culture. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, even if you aren't at all interested in this type of mainstream music.