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Sundance 2011 – Top 7 and Bottom 5

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Top 7

It was a good year at Sundance, as evidenced by the impressive number of deals that took place. Here’s a quick rundown of what I enjoyed and a few that I really didn’t.

Another Earth
Score: 93

Perfect Sense
Score: 93

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
Score: 93

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Score: 93

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Score: 92

Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times
Score: 92

Bellflower
Score: 92

Bottom 5

I have to admit to a bias up front: being a new dad probably made me extra hard on the movies that were not good, and left me without much patience for movies that took a ridiculous amount of time to get to the point. Every film had a lot to live up to when I considered that I could have spent the 90 minutes or so playing with my daughter.

I walk out of a good number of movies every year thinking that they need at least 15 minutes trimmed out of them, and that the work should probably be done by somebody who wasn’t involved with the production of the movie. This year, it consistently felt more like 20 minutes instead.

Vampire
Score: 40

Prairie Love
Score: 39

I Melt With You
Score: 31

All Your Dead Ones
Score: 31

The Oregonian
Score: 24

I didn’t have much to say about the movie the night that I posted the score; it had been a long day and, frankly, Another Earth was more deserving of the time.

During the Q&A after the film, which I stayed for out of sheer spite and the hope that I’d get to watch a filmmaker bask in the warm glow of universal loathing (I was disappointed; only me and the filmmaker’s friends and family stayed, so I instead got to hear him praised as a visionary), he mentioned his future plans. It turns out that this directionless, annoying to a fault, and sound designed to make you crave the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard film was made while a narrative feature the director wants to make languishes in development hell. He reported that if the narrative gets underway, he’ll work on that next. If not, he plans to make more films along the same vein as The Oregonian. I’ve never heard a more vile threat from a public microphone. Quick, decision maker, greenlight his other project; you’ll win on two fronts. It cannot be any worse than this film, and you’ll be like the man in the platoon who throws himself on top of the grenade to save his buddies.

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Sundance 2011 – Day Three

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noon
Vampire
at Broadway Centre Cinemas VI in Salt Lake
My Score – 40

A man wants to live by drinking the blood of others, so he forges suicide pacts, drains his partners of their blood, and moves on. Seems like an interesting premise, right?

Oh, how I wish.

Anybody familiar with Japanese cinema knows that they traditionally have a tolerance for a much more leisurely pace. Those familiar with anime or Asian film in general may have noticed a penchant for dialogue that lacks any hint of subtext and for piano-heavy scoring so maudlin that it is only about two steps short of including Open Captions for the Emotionally Impaired. None of this is missing from Vampire.

What is missing, however, is a native cast. And even though I have experience with the leaden pace and other cultural differences, the presence of English dialogue being performed by native English speakers provides just enough of a disconnect that I spend two hours wishing that the multi-hyphenate director would have let somebody with a bit of emotional distance from the project take a very sharp knife and cut about an hour out of the movie. That premise deserves some room to become something. Instead, it’s buried under an avalanche of Asian cinema quirks.

3:45 pm
We Were Here
at Broadway Centre Cinemas V in Salt Lake
My Score – 79

6:30 pm
The Guard
at Rose Wagner Center in Salt Lake
My Score – 91

Closest analogs: In Bruges (even down to the star) and In the Loop. I enjoyed it more than the latter and not quite as much as the former, but extra points for being an enjoyable comedy at Sundance, and an extra point for appearing in my schedule after two downer movies.

9:00 pm
Submarine
at Broadway Centre Cinemas VI in Salt Lake
My Score – 83

Movies seen thus far: 11
Today’s Favorite: The Guard
Festival Favorite: Bellflower

Written by ireviewsomething

January 23, 2011 at 11:24pm

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