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Posts Tagged ‘Rodrigo Cortés

Sundance 2012 – Day Two

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Sundance 2012 – Day Two

noon
That’s What She Said
at SLC Library in Salt Lake
My Score – 69

3:30 pm
The Queen of Versailles
at Rose Wagner Center in Salt Lake
My Score – 86

5:30 pm
West of Memphis
at SLC Library in Salt Lake
My Score – 93

To take a subject that there is already hours of documentary work about and make it feel fresh is an achievement. To make it a beautiful, personal film about the importance of the many standing up for those who are unable is another, even more impressive achievement. As if the films of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh aren’t enough to respect, the financial and emotional dedication they showed to innocent accused in this case speaks to what amazing people they are. This documentary is heartbreaking, inspiring, and manages to break new ground when it comes to not just reporting a story, but have the filmmakers acting as key players in the story. I am loathe to spend two and a half hours on just about any movie. My usual feeling on a film is that it probably needs 20 minutes cut out of it. This movie couldn’t lost a single frame without doing it great harm and is a very impressive, and truly exhaustive treatment of the subject.

9:30 pm
Red Lights
at Rose Wagner Center in Salt Lake
My Score – 84

This is a disappointing film with a rather enjoyable first half that absolutely slits its own throat thereafter. The Uri Geller v. Amazing Randi story being told up front, had it been followed through on, would have made for a nice, safe, double to left field. Instead, Cortes swings for the fences. I get the impulse because he did the same in his debut feature, Buried, and absolutely lit up the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the success isn’t replicated here. This movie loses its way after the middle and never finds redemption.

midnight
The Pact
at Broadway Cinemas VI in Salt Lake
My Score – 87

Movies seen thus far: 7
Today’s Favorite: West of Memphis
Festival Favorite: West of Memphis

Buried

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Buried poster

My favorite movie from Sundance this year just released a teaser trailer.

Simply put, this movie is a brilliant concept for a film, a script that is even better in the execution than it was in the concept, and really well-directed and acted to boot.

Granted, you may think the depths of the idea of somebody being buried alive got well and truly plumbed in Kill Bill Vol. 2, but there are some really great ideas in this movie. Given that one of the weapons at the main character Paul Conroy’s disposal is a cell phone, you get all the expected notes that one should expect: commentary on consumer culture, the lack of reasonable customer service on the telephone, and general jaded nature of the American population at large. What surprised me were the moments that came out of left field. For one, I appreciate the restraint it must have taken to not open this story up, showing the people that the protagonist is talking to on the phone. I can only imagine that was a note that producers gave over and over. The point at which I was watching a chase scene taking place in a claustrophobic underground wooden box, I was all in and willing to go wherever this story was headed.

Although Chris Sparling’s script was clearly written to be shot on a shoestring, given the single on-screen character and location, the movie moves from feeling appropriately cramped and confined to a much more open, freewheeling film. Or, rather, as freewheeling as one can make a movie feel which stays in the same, small place. Kudos to Rodrigo Cortés for managing to stay out of the way of the brilliant material in the script and even inventing a few shots to add to his reel.

Ryan Reynolds is, for me, the consummate leading man. This point was hammered home watching him rise above the dreck and scatology of Van Wilder and turn the role into something worth watching. Being that he is the only onscreen actor, those skills are put to the test. He gets to stretch a bit here, playing a wide range of emotions. The movie is believable because we see the full scope of fear, remorse, and hope that Reynolds puts on display. While I can imagine this being a watchable movie with the involvement of a lesser talent, Reynolds’ work here takes the film from a mere engaging thriller to something more emotional. Green Lantern can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime, I highly recommend this one unless you are afraid of tight spaces.

Written by ireviewsomething

April 30, 2010 at 4:58pm

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