All of the Sundance films I saw this year in 26 words because I'm too lame to cut out another word:
A story of compassionate obsession; a perky romp; a documentary crisscrossing friendship, music, and psychosis; a nonconsecutive mindfuck; and a tale of impulse, caring, and travail. A.
In past years, I've gone to Sundance with MA and stayed with her boy, D, who lives in Salt Lake (bless his hospitality and their inclusiveness). This year we followed the same plan, except that M was able to join, which made the experience *way* better, which is saying a lot since it was pretty darn good to start out with. In addition to the movies, we got some good visit time, some serious shiver-in-the-cold time, even more waiting-in-line time, and a lovely visit with my friends A&D who live in Park City (their wedding was the one I went to in December), and I treasure any time I get to spend with them . . . so all in all, a great weekend. And I didn't even have to miss work to do it, having left Friday night and returned Monday at some insane hour of the morning.
As a rule, the last weekend of Sundance is a fascinating experience. Most of the celebrities are gone, having spent the first week and a half partying and being conspicuous and seeing all the movies with buzz, so by the time the last weekend rolls around, it seems to me that it's just people who like film, hanging out and seeing movies. This is particularly true of the award-winner showings, because they're movies that most of the schmancy people have already seen already. In a few years of going for the last weekend, I have yet to see a major celebrity at Sundance, and that's just fine since I'm really just there to see films that have garnered artistic and/or industry respect but that might never make it to a theater near you. This time, I got to see five such films, which was a treat. I believe most, if not all, of them will get picked up for theatrical release if they haven't already, and if they never do, they will at least come out on DVD, I hope.
So on to the movies.
I can't say that any other individual, besides me, would necessarily love every one of these movies, but I enjoyed them all and recommend them. As I was thinking about them today, I finally found one thread that connected them all: trust. [(1) Family trust and the moment when truthfulness and trust collide; (2) team trust and trustworthiness when love is on the line; (3) trust between friends and what happens when a central figure blithely and consistently betrays that trust; (4) trust among colleagues and confidantes in the face of incomplete information; and (5) being trusting when all else fades]. Perhaps trust is a topic that no film of any substantial length can entirely avoid, even if it tries - perhaps there are other such topics. Another could be the relationship of self to family or family-analog (team, band, colleagues, etc.) and how that drives our choices; another might be money or capitalism, which either drives, surrounds, or troubles characters in most films. But trust seems somehow integral to each of these stories in a way, while other topics require a little stretching before they could be described as central to each. So that's my deep thought for now; in the meantime, look for these when they go into wider release.
Good Bye, Lenin! (Official [German] site here) in 25 words or less:
Heartwarmingly, humorously, captures the power of nostalgia, the selfishness of devotion, and the quiet zeitgeist of tumultuous times. Naturally, it set German box office records. A-.
D.E.B.S. in 25 words or less:
A fluffy, delightful sendup of the action-girl genre: energetic, charming, funny, and full of hot chicks. So fun you don't mind the logical flaws. A.
DIG! [Grand Jury Prize Documentary] in 25 words or less:
Chronicles two bands' paths (one successful, the other . . . not); while exploring issues of friendship, trust, creativity, mental illness, and the relationship between business and art. B+.
PRIMER [Grand Jury Prize Drama] in 25 words or less:
Occasionally incoherent, probably requires repeated viewings, but fascinating and smart. A rare example of the filmmaker leaving *too much* for the viewer to figure out. A-.
Maria, Full of Grace [Audience Prize Drama] in 25 words or less:
A sensitive portrayal of the heartlessness of the drug trade, the impulsiveness of youth, and the compassion of ordinary people. Touching, important, and well-acted. A-.
So there's me. Now I'm back to the exciting and glamorous life of working, packing, interviewing movers, and dealing with the f$*^%ing phone company who wants to charge be $45 just to tell me why I can't get a dial tone on my telephone. At least I had a very nice workout this evening.