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JoBlo.com/Sundance #2

01.24.2007


by Scott Weinberg

Back with more angst, misery and strife, everyone! It's Sundance time, and the movies are miserable! (Even the good ones are pretty damn depressing!) Plus, if you've ever considered having sex with a horse, I have a documentary you should probably check out...

AN AMERICAN CRIME

First the good news. The cast (which includes Catherine Keener and Ellen Page) is pretty great and the 1965 production design is quite excellent. Now the bad: This "based on actual events" story of horrific child abuse feels a whole lot like a Lifetime Channel movie that decided to throw a little explicit violence into the mix. The result is a movie that's alternately tragic, boring and redundant. But hey, if you've always wanted to see Catherine Keener beat the hell out of Ellen Page before tossing her into the basement and allowing the nasty neighborhood kids to dole out some extra punishment, go nuts. I thought the flick was deadly dry and oppressively unlikable.

BROKEN ENGLISH

OK, so this one's not likely to win a whole bunch of awards for originality, but it's still a charming little story, simply told and boasting one truly excellent performance by Ms. Parker (Sundance Queen) Posey. It's the simple tale of a hotel manager who's always looking for love in all the wrong places. All Ms. Posey wants is a nice reliable hunk to fall in love with, but to say she has bad luck in love is like saying George Bush has bad luck in politics. But when a surprisingly sweet-natured Frenchman crosses Parker's path, it looks like she just might find happiness -- even if she has to travel across the globe to get it. (Drea De Matteo, Gena Rowlands and Justin Theroux contribute some great support work, too.)

THE SIGNAL

I just got back from this one about 15 minutes ago, and I had a big fat ball with the thing. It's a low-budget high-intensity horror flick that focuses on, well, the end of the world, basically. Imagine every electronics product you own is now submitting a "signal" that turns you into a homicidal lunatic after only a few minutes time. And then imagine that story told by a trio of young filmmakers who aren't afraid to mix hardcore horror, unexpected humor and even a little romance. You might not recognize any of the cast members, but there's not a weak performance in the bunch ... and that's just as impressive as the tight-knuckled screenplay and the fast-paced mayhem. Fun stuff.

ZOO

Yep, this is the one everyone's been talking about. (And by "everyone" I mean "people all over the country.") It's a semi-documentary that offers a bunch of dramatizations of the events surrounding one man's strange demise. How strange? He died of a perforated colon after he allowed a horse to sodomize him. Yeah, we live in one freaky world. But with subject matter this salacious and icky... how did the movie turn out so portentous, pretentious and dull? There's only enough "story" here for about 15 minutes' worth of movie, yet ZOO runs about 80. And yes, the flick includes actual footage of the unpleasant equestrian antics. I can plainly understand why Sundance would want to exhibit such a potentially controversial film, but I can't imagine too many people actually enjoying the thing.

Source: JoBlo.com

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