Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Klaus Daimler who picks 3 movies out of 9 that he has seen so far at this year's Sundance Film Festival to talk about. These three stood out from the pack and they all sound like winners to me. The subject matter, be it a new twist on noir, an awesome documentary subject or horny 7 year olds talking about pooping in butts in random chatrooms... well, how can you not find that adorable? Also, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for all these films so far. I can't wait to hear about the distribution fate of either of these three flicks. Daimler also includes a warning list of some flicks that he didn't particularly care for, so far. So there's that, too! Enjoy!
Dear Harry and the gang. Like Kool and the Gang with higher cholesterol. One could say Kool Aid and the Gang but I say friends,
Greetings from another Sundance, I have plans to see 25 films over the course of the festival and I have seen nine so far. In my estimation only three of those nine films are worthy of taking the time to talk about. I would ask that you wear all black while reading these reviews and preferably be sipping a latte, gently.
New York Doll ****
I think that it is safe to say that the best film of the festival is New York Doll. The film follows Arthur Killer Kane, the bass player for the New York Dolls. The Dolls influenced everyone from the likes of The Smiths to Motley Crue. Rather than be a rock-doc the film is really about empathy, tolerance and friendship. It’s not so much about the band as it is about one man’s spiritual change and his determination and hesitations regarding his faith.
I read this week in a report from one of the documentary panels that the key to having a successful documentary is to have a sympathetic subject. New York Doll could aptly be titled Arthur Kane is a Sweet, Sweet Man. Within moments of meeting him on-screen you are intrigued by his forthrightness and inspired by his honesty. Arthur has no qualms about his life, be it as a cross-dressing alcoholic in the 70’s, a washed up musician careening out of apartment windows in the 80’s or as a Genealogical Librarian for the LDS Church in the 90’s. He has come to terms with each stage of his life and can rightly recognize the rights and wrongs as it were concerning each portion. It is truly a story about a man that is about to come full circle.
Harry, it is absolutely brilliant. Filmmaker Greg Whiteley would admit that this was part luck on his part to catch Arthur in the precise moment that he did. What follows in the film is one of the best story arcs imaginable. To paraphrase a previous review, many narratives would die to have this story. What amazes me about the film more than any other aspect is its ability to mix up the two extreme lifestyles of excessive rock and roll with reserved Christianity. In one moment you have Morrissey commenting on the power of the Dolls followed by Arthur’s Mormon Bishop’s observation about Arthur’s happiness to be playing on stage with the Dolls after a 30 year absence. Both accounts are equally moving and it is refreshing to see these two ideologies melded together into a form of understanding.
I highly recommend this film for its charisma and sincerity. It has so many opportunities to become preachy and it doesn’t even come close. Redford opened the festival with a message concerning America’s intolerance for different cultures and lifestyles. Truly the festival has been about tolerance and acceptance, but no film has successfully been the manifestation of that idea as much as New York Doll.
Moriarty mentioned that Brick might be the IT film of Sundance after a few glowing reviews of this modern noir tale. I thought I would add my two cents. Brick is a film- noir in the vein of To Have or Have Not set in modern day high school suburbia. Brick is supremely self-reflexive and embodies a rich understanding and respect for its predecessors. It is the type of film where the viewer needs to give-in to its style in order to fully enjoy it. I recommend giving in to the film as soon as possible and let it take you on its ride. It is very difficult initially to not roll your eyes at the dialogue and the style of the film, in fact in the screening I quietly leaned over to a friend and whispered, “Oooh, there’s the femme fatale!” However, soon thereafter I let go of my snap judgments and gave in to its story.
Brick has some good performances and what I found to be the most revitalizing take on the genre was its instances of humor. The humor is not typical teenage high school fare. The film takes itself and its world very seriously yet can still manage a Coen brothers moment now and then where it realizes that it is asking a lot of the audience and it thanks them. Laughter ensues. I think that is where Brick shines and starts to stand out from the dramatic competition pack. I found the genre rules played well in a high school format and once it really gets going it fires on these noir cylinders awfully successfully.
A final element that I truly enjoyed was the films independent look. Sure it has Joey Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas and Emilie de Ravin (Lost’s Claire) but aside from its cast the film has a nice low budget feel (that sounds so clichÃ©….sigh) that really lends to its allure. Brick is sharp little film hopefully it is picked up and gets distribution. I can see MTV films grabbing this. Which makes me ill. But hey, we can all use a modernized Philip Marlowe in our lives, even the teenagers.
Me and You and Everyone We Know ***1/2
What a treat.
For those that have seen it, I will only say this: ))<>((
Film going to me is about new experiences and finding that one film that stands out as being something refreshing. My favorite film of 2004 was Primer and for those very reasons. “Me and You and Everyone We Know” is that experience that I crave.
The film is about a handful of characters and the commonplace things that they do. It’s not about gigantic dramatic sequences playing out with orchestras highlighting how we should feel. Me and You makes the mundane tasks of our lives seem reinvented. It explores the level of sexual prowess and confusion of the 7th grade, it deals with a burgeoning romance between a 7 year old and his Chat room lover and begins and ends on a man who sets his arm on fire to save his life.
“Me and You…” combines the quirkiness of a film like Rushmore and Welcome to the Dollhouse with the wonder of innocence. It is a film about the power of art, it’s about adults wishing for the freedoms of childhood and children trying all things imaginable to just grow up and get it over with. Thematically it concerns itself with the loss of innocence on many levels and in many degrees and our natural human desire to get at least a piece of it back.
The film is exquisitely colorful. It was shot on HD and damn that lovely director Miranda July for not showing up for the Q & A at my screening and talking about it. It was so nice to watch a new director with a new style emerge from the masses. I would search this one out, if for anything the hilarious chat room sequences that contain such marvelous lines as:
“I want to poop in your butt hole and then when I am done you can poop in my butt hole and we will poop back and forth….with the same poop….forever.” -Robby. Age Seven.
Please see this.
Rock School dominates.
Live-In Maid is a quiet film examining the relationship between a rich woman and her poor live-in maid of 30 years. It is best at examining the two class system of South America. Other than that I found it tedious.
I also have seen the genuinely witty Unconscious, I finally saw the postmodern Shakespeare film Oldboy, that is quite the ride.
Film that you should avoid like the plague:
Happy Endings or as I call it “Independent Film for Dummies”. Wow, what a truly unoriginal film. It is like if Paul Thomas Anderson had a wart removed and that part of him tried to make it on its own and direct a film. Yes, it is about as cold and dead as a PTA frozen wart.
I have much to look forward too in the coming week and will return with further reports.
The Squid and The Whale (directed by Life Aquatic Scribe Noah Baumbach)
Why We Fight (by the man who brought us the brilliant The Trails of Henry Kissinger)
Kung Fu Hustle
High School Record
The Dying Gaul
And more. Good day fine sirs,