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Sundance Wrap-Up!

01.30.2006


by Scott Weinberg

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Intro #1 / Intro #2 / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5

Well, another Sundance has come and gone. This was my fourth consecutive visit to cinema nirvana circa Parka City (and if you're planning to head up there, you really do need a heavy coat) and my third time reporting for JoBlo's, and (pretty much) everyone up there was a bona-fide sweetheart. From the festival volunteers who man the (frozen) shuttle stops to the amazingly hard-working folks at the press office, the actual "people factor" of Sundance is just great. (No, that doesn't include all the brain-dead snow-bunnies with cell-phones permanently frozen to their earlobes.)

I got to meet up and hang out with folks from Cinematical (aka one awesome movie blog), Rotten Tomatoes (aka Movie Review Heaven), DVDTalk (aka my home away from home), and (of course) all my fellow freakos from EFC/HBS, namely Erik Childress, Collin Souter, and Eric Snider, three great pals who helped to keep me sane (and fed) in between all the movies.

To close out my Sundance '06 coverage, I thought it would be a good idea to borrow a few opinions from those three knuckleheads; this way I can help spread some word about a few movies that I did not personally get to see.

COME EARLY MORNING

"We’ve met characters like Lucy before and we’ve seen movies like Come Early Morning before, but doesn’t automatically make Joey Lauren Adams’ directorial debut less than a good movie. At worst, it’s somewhat pedestrian. At best, it’s a well-acted, low-key drama about a woman at a crossroads in her life as she questions her own erratic behavior and how it relates to those around her, particularly her family. Cue the come-and-go love interest, the divorced parents and the ride off into the sunset." -- Collin Souter

KINKY BOOTS

"With generically pleasant direction by first-timer Julian Jarrold and a script by Tim Firth (who wrote the identical "Calendar Girls") and Geoff Deane, "Kinky Boots" counts on its viewers being delighted by the most predictable of developments. Will the staunch anti-drag-queen shoemaker eventually be won over by Lola? Will the make-us-or-break-us fashion show aaaaaalmost fail before Lola shows up at the last minute and saves the day? Tune in and find out! Or don't." -- Eric Snider

STEEL CITY

"Brian Jun’s assured, heartfelt debut feature Steel City is the third film I saw at Sundance about characters in a small town who have messed up lives, but who are trying to better themselves. It’s also the best of the three. It’s a perfectly acted and stunningly shot drama about a man in his early twenties who can’t move forward in life until he has a handle on at least one element of his existence under control. In order to maintain a job, a girlfriend, a home and good relations with his troubled family, he has to figure out how to break the detrimental habits and patterns beset early in life by his father and his brother." -- C.S.

RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR

"A quasi-thriller set in Los Angeles on the day that terrorists have detonated a series of chemical bombs. Citizens are urged to stay inside and seal off their houses, which our hero finally does and then his wife stumbles home, contaminated by the poison and highly contagious. If hubby lets her in, he’ll die, too. What’s a guy to do? I liked the film if only for its successful portrayal of the panic and intensity that would surely follow such a disaster in real life. The first 20 minutes or so reminded me quite a bit of “24,” actually, which is a good thing. It doesn’t quite hold up, though, and it wound up reminding me of “Open Water” in that it involves a husband and wife in a stressful situation where the wife annoys me and I hope she gets eaten by a shark." -- E.S.

LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN

"Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man depicts a poet at the twilight of his career in an age when a successor seems highly unlikely. As U2’s The Edge points out, “Now is the time to celebrate this man’s work, because there will probably never be another one like him.” He may be right. While it’s easy to point the finger at radio stations and record companies for the poor state of today’s mainstream music, it’s also important to point out that if a Leonard-Cohen-of-today did emerge from the cracks, he would probably be immediately taken down a peg by music geeks and elitists who’d want to get a backlash going as soon as possible. Today’s aspiring artists and musicians just can’t win." -- C.S.

STAY

"There’s little other way to put it, but the catalyst of Goldthwait’s romantic dramedy is a woman who on a stupid whim in college gave her doggie some pleasure in a manner that is still illegal for humans to do in several Southern borders. Such an outrageous premise is precisely what you might expect from the comedian who brought us Shakes the Clown and the criminally underseen, Windy City Heat. Only this time out, Bobcat has a few issues on his mind to work out and it has trouble meshing with the Meet the Parents scenario he’s crafted." -- Erik Childress

THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP

"The Science of Sleep is a movie that demands to be seen more than once, but it’s something of a miracle that a movie this complex and this beautifulnot to mention, damn funnycan resonate so strongly on first viewing. It invites comparisons to Gilliam’s Brazil as well as the aforementioned Eternal Sunshine, but that’s to be taken as the highest compliment rather than critic’s shorthand. No single review can do this movie justice, just like no single dream can sum up your whole life. It can take more time than you have to sift through it. The more you think about it, the deeper it goes." -- C.S.

But even with the help from these guys, I just wasn't able to catch a few movies that really piqued my interest. My apologies to: ALPHA DOG, DESTRICTED, FRIENDS WITH MONEY, THE ILLUSIONIST, MOONSHINE, THE NIGHT LISTENER, STEPHANIE DALEY, and a whole bunch of others. I'll catch 'em soon enough.

** The Awards! **

Sundance gave out all sorts of awards on their final night ... but they managed to pour accolades on movies I ... didn't see. Ah well, here's who got what:

Grand Jury Prize: Documentary -- GOD GREW TIRED OF US (dir: Christopher Quinn)

Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic -- QUINCEANERA (dir: Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer)

World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary -- IN THE PIT (dir: Juan Carlos Rulfo)

World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic -- 13 TZAMETI (dir: Gela Babluani)

Audience Award: Documentary -- GOD GREW TIRED OF US (dir: Christopher Quinn)

Audience Award: Dramatic -- QUINCEANERA (dir: Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer)

World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary -- DE NADIE (dir: Tin Dirdamal)

World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic -- NO. 2 (dir: Toa Fraser)

Documentary Directing Award -- James Longley, IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS

Dramatic Directing Award -- Dito Montiel, A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS

Excellence in Cinematography: Documentary -- James Longley, IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS

Excellence in Cinematography: Dramatic -- Tom Richmond, RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR

Documentary Film Editing Award -- Billy McMillin, Fiona Otway & James Longley, IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award -- Hilary Brougher, STEPHANIE DALEY

Special Jury Prize: Documentary -- AMERICAN BLACKOUT (dir: Ian Inaba)

Special Jury Prize: Documentary -- TV JUNKIE (dir: Michael Cain & Matt Radecki)

Special Jury Prize: Dramatic Ensemble -- A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS (dir: Dito Montiel)

Special Jury Prize: Independent Vision -- Writer/director So Yong Kim & writer Bradley Rust Gray, IN BETWEEN DAYS

Special Jury Prize: World Cinema Documentary -- INTO GREAT SILENCE (dir: Yonghi Yang)

Special Jury Prize: World Cinema Dramatic -- EVE & THE FIRE HORSE (dir: Julia Kwan)

** The Pick-ups! **

Lots of the Sundance movies will eventually make their way to cable, video, limited release, or ... I dunno, PBS. These are the flicks that were picked up for distribution already:

THE DARWIN AWARDS (Bauer Martinez)
FACTOTUM (IFC)
FIND LOVE (Slamdance) (Maple Pictures)
HALF NELSON (ThinkFilm)
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (Fox Searchlight)
MAN PUSH CART (Films Philos)
THE NIGHT LISTENER (Miramax)
RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR (Lions Gate)
THE SASQUATCH DUMPLING GANG (Slamdance) (Trigger Street)
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (Warner Independent Pictures)
STAY (Roadside/Goldwyn)
STEPHANIE DALEY (Picturehouse)
WORDPLAY (IFC)
WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY (?)

And then let's just wrap this whole thing up with a general recap of what I saw and loved, liked, tolerated or hated. (* = Slamdance selection). You can read most of my reviews on these films on:
Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5

The Best

Awesome; I F**kin' Shot That!
The Call of Cthulhu*
The Descent
Factotum
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Little Miss Sunshine
Special
Wristcutters: A Love Story

The Worthy

13 Tzameti
Art School Confidential
Love Is the Drug*
Off the Black
The Other Side*
Sherrybaby
Things to Do*
TV Junkie
Wordplay

The Watchable

The Actress*
American Hardcore
Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out
Find Love*
The Guatemalan Handshake*
The Hawk Is Dying
Lucky Number Slevin
Salvage
Subject Two
The World According to Sesame Street

The Missable

All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise
The Darwin Awards
Somebodies

SEE YA NEXT YEAR!!!

Source: JoBlo.com

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7:08PM on 01/30/2006
Aw, too bad you didn't see "The Illusionist"...That was really the only film I was really interested in (Edward Norton, come on!). Great coverage though.
Aw, too bad you didn't see "The Illusionist"...That was really the only film I was really interested in (Edward Norton, come on!). Great coverage though.
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