Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sundance 2011 film reviews

First of all, the most important thing was that I loved being able to stay seated after the film and hear Q&A sessions with many of the actors, directors, producers, etc. Really made the films more human.

Second of all, the films were astonishing compared with everyday blockbuster films because the themes weren't readily apparent, or easily digested. Many times during and after the film, we'd discuss who was really the 'good guy' or 'bad guy' -- a theme you can easily find in most 'normal' films simply by the color of clothes the actors wear. It was refreshing to be so engaged.

Here are a few quick reviews and scores of movies that I saw with Meagan in Park City!

Position Among the Stars
Incredible shots and camera work of Jakarta slums. In the style of cinéma vérité (cross between documentary (sans commentary) and reality TV (without the dictated drama and lines)). Shows off modernization issues within a three generation family, and then the idea of concentrating your daily efforts on "stuff" vs "people". Also touches on religion in the country with the largest Islamic population in the world. The director and cinematographer Leonard Retel Helmrich was incredible. We loved it. Hoping it gets bought!

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Made by Morgan Spurlock (the guy from "SuperSize Me"), this is a very positive film about the state of product placement and advertising in films. Documentary. Hugely hilarious portions, thought provoking portions, generally enjoyable. Sold to Sony Pictures Classics 2 days before we saw it, so you'll have an opportunity to see it.
Score: 6.5/10

Very strong film about living in Tehran, Iran, and how families, and specifically women face challenges with corruption, sexuality, and culture. Featuring a couple of beautiful and talented girls and an amazing actor (the "brother"), good soundtrack, political relevance, and the struggle between freedom of choice and traditional, cultural "good". Betting it'll get bought!  (intense themes, probably rated R or more)
Score: 8.5/10

A hilariously, awesomely, awkwardly British film about a boy growing up in Wales, struggling with adolescence. Really enjoyed the director's (Richard Ayoade) humor before and after the show during the Q&A.
Score: 7/10

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
A gripping mystery documentary about a two decade old unsolved phenomenon in the US and South America, about tiles laid in the cement on the streets, a conspiracy, and the future of humanity. AMAZING soundtrack, done by the director (self-taught, for this movie). (Not actually about dead people).
Score: 7.5/10

Didn't care for this one too much. Idea was great, after 4 years of work that they spent on it, I thought content was sparse. Lots of conjecture in scientific realm (regarding honey bees, health effects of cell phones, and healing via miracles vs. medicine), coming from an artistic-type.
Score: 4/10

The Bengali Detective
Another cinéma vérité film showcasing the thriving profession of private detective in India. Real cases are investigated, as are the main character's dance aspirations as he tries out for a televised national talent show! Very realistic and fun!
Score: 8/10

Notable movies that others saw, in approximate order of "you really should see this movie":

My Idiot Brother
Happy Happy
The Future
The Kids Are Alright
The Ledge
Higher Ground
The Flaw

(All images are copyright of their respective film makers and whatnot, and I'm just hoping to help their viewership by providing reviews!)

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