Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Okay. This is it. This is the end of the Sundance coverage from me. I always wait each year for Jay Berg to file his report because once he does, the proverbial fat lady has sung. Let’s kick it off with him today:
Jay Berg here for my yearly wrap up of my 7th Sundance with capsule reviews of only (!) 14 flicks. For the first time I traveled with my love who had basic training last year when we both took in the Maryland Film Festival and the AFI Silverdocs outside of D.C. After a bad decision last year when, for the first time, I went to the first half of the fest (I call it the “Wait List” festival), I returned for the 2nd half when the crowds were starting to thin out. Beginning in 2006, the organizers were trying to spread out the premiers and events so that the crowds would also even out (including the screening of a closing night film for the first time)-but the hoards have failed to notice (thank the lord!) as I was able to get tickets to nearly every film I sought . After a flawless early morning flight out of Baltimore, our group started with a bang with the world premier of “Black Snake Moan”. Here are capsule reviews (using a 4 star rating system) of the programs I screened. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24 “BLACK SNAKE MOAN” (***½) The 1,270 seat Eccles was filled to capacity for Craig Brewer’s latest. After scoring a grand slam with his “Hustle & Flow” (the 2005 Sundance Dramatic Audience award winner), he has clearly avoided the sophomore jinx with this thoroughly entertaining follow-up. Samuel L. Jackson gives an Oscar worthy turn as a God fearing ex-blues musician who takes on an unlikely task: trying to convert a nymphomaniac (Christina Ricci in a brave performance) from her evil sexual desires while coming to turns with his own personal demons. This film never drags and, along with “Hustle & Flow”, indicates that Craig Brewer is sure to become a future force in filmmaking. And watch out for, yes, Justin Timberlake who gives a nice supporting role as Ricci’s military boyfriend who happens to return home to discover that she is not exactly the faithful partner he thought she was. “KING OF CALIFORNIA” (**) Definitely a hard act to follow, this premier failed miserably! Although the overall premise was interesting, the 93 minute film seemed at least twice that long! Screener/director Mike Cahill’s first feature (he had the wonderful documentary “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”) was ultimately disappointing as it follows a gentle madman (Michael Douglas) who returns home after a 2-year stint in an institution to his teenage daughter (Evan Rachael Wood) with a plan of uncovering a hidden Spanish missionary cache which is buried under a Costco store. The script never took fire and, although Douglas tried his best while hiding under a straggly beard (he later remarked during the Q & A that Catherine made him shave it because she felt she was sleeping with The Unabomber), the film seemed stodgy and forced. THURSDAY, JANUARY 25 “SNOW ANGELS” (***) Included in the dramatic competition, Director and screenwriter David Gordon Green’s latest is a powerful film about failed relationships. Although the film is relentless and totally depressing in portraying the dynamics of the interactions of the characters, the script and acting are completely mesmerizing. Sam Rockwell (who also stars at Sundance in the psychological thriller “Joshua”-see below) and Kate Beckinsale are both riveting as divorced parents trying to deal with themselves and each other. However, Rockwell is the special standout as he subtly spirals down from a happy-go-lucky dude trying to reconnect with his wife to someone who totally loses control after a series of tragic events. Very realistic and powerful. “JOSHUA (**1/2) Back-to-back with Sam Rockwell who portrays the father of “bad seed” Joshua, chillingly played by newcomer, Jacob Kogan. Director George Ratliff (“Hell House”) effectively creates a Hitcockean mood of terror as the little darling manipulates everyone around him until . . . well it’s best to leave this one unsaid. Although it is effective in building tension (and mother Vera Famiga could easily get an Oscar nod as she slowly drifts into madness as a result of the antics of her lovely son), I felt some tighter editing would have helped sustain the tension. The film did win the Excellence in Cinematography Award. “THE GOOD NIGHT” (****) This premier by first time feature filmmaker Jake Paltrow (yes, his sister Gwyneth is part of the outstanding cast) blew me away! Totally original (it is best not to read a synopsis or review as I feel surprise is a huge part of enjoying the film), this human comedy tells a story of a moderately successful ex-musician (Martin Freeman) who is desperately seeking self-esteem but not finding it in his work or from his wife (Gwyneth). Enter, literally, his dream girl (Penelope Cruz) who seems to deliver said esteem in spades every time he enters dreamland. Determined to find the meaning behind his dreams, he seeks out some outrageous characters along the way, including a hilarious supporting role by Danny DeVito as a proponent and teacher of lucid dreaming techniques. This film is especially for anyone who escapes into one’s dreams thinking it is better than reality, but then finding that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Great fun! “CHAPTER 27 (**) This premier by director/screenwriter Jarrett Schaefer has teenage heartthrob actor and musician Jared Leto portraying Mark David Chapman, who gained an astounding 70 pounds for the role. He literally hides behind the weight to portray Chapman’s three day stint in New York prior to his assassination of John Lennon. This film lays totally flat as the droll narration by Leto combines with his inane activities to try and explain the human behind the monster as he slowly becomes his idol Holden Caulfield (from J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”). Although I’m sure the filmmaker had sincere intentions, I personally found it totally unnecessary and disgusting to immortalize this utterly worthless human being forever in film. One bit of advice: be sure to get plenty of caffeine before you view this one! FRIDAY, JANUARY 26 “TEETH” (***) First time director Mitchell Lichtenstein creates a John Waters-like montage: part comedy and part horror story about a virgin teenager (the wonderful Jess Weixler who happened to win a special jury prize for acting) who discovers that her private parts have the capability of “dismembering” the male organ if she is provoked. This one must be seen to be believed and is sure to make the heartiest man squirm for hours! Look for it soon as it has been picked up by Lionsgate. “ZOO” (*** ½) Those of us in our group that screened this artistic haunting poetic documentary were somewhat surprised when it received absolutely no recognition from the Jury. Director Robinson Devor relates the details of a morally deviant activity uncovered after a dying man was dropped off at a hospital in the Pacific Northwest. The resultant police work uncovered hundreds of hours of video tape of men from all over the world who were having sex with Arabian horses. Told from the perspective of the men who were performing these acts, the film is neither exploitive or graphic (only a few seconds of tape are actually shown) and the result is a film that, visually and artistically, will stay with you long after the lights come up. SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 “RED ROAD” (***) Director/screenwriter Andrea Arnold (who had the Sundance and Academy Award winning short “Wasp”) returns with a dark thriller that was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and was the winner of a Cannes Special Jury Prize. The film takes a long time to develop (maybe a tad too long) but the payoff is ultimately worth it. It tells the modern day tale of a lady (newcomer Kate Dickie) who works at a video-surveillance firm that monitors the streets of Glasgow which serves to protect its citizens. One day she spots a man (Tony Curran) on one of her video screens whom she recognizes from her past & whom she never expected to see again. She then begins to stalk him. The whys and wherefores are left unanswered until the very end as the director tries to keep you guessing while slowly building tension along the way. By the way, it is the first film of Lars von Trier’s 3 part experimental Advance Party project, which are all set in Scotland by 3 different directors using the same 9 characters. “CHICAGO 10” (***½) The festival opening night film is a gem by director Brett Morgan (who did the brilliant 2002 doc on Hollywood mogul Robert Evans, “The Kid Stays in the Picture”). Based on the Chicago Seven trial as a result of the disruptive antiwar rallies at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention (the additional 3 included the 8th defendant Bobby Seales, who was a late addition to the trial, as well as the 2 defense attorneys, Willaim Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass). Brett mentioned in his introduction that he went through every written and video account of the trial as well as the complete trial transcript to be certain he accurately portrayed the events that transpired both before and during the trial. To recreate the missing trial videos, he animated the trial, as well as other happenings surrounding the trial (such as Abbie Hoffman’s radio interviews) using name actors (such as Roy Scheider, Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeffrey Wright) for the voiceovers. What results is a thoroughly entertaining and informative take on a part of our history that should be repeating itself right now on the streets of America! “FIDO” (***) This brilliant Canadian satire by director Andrew Currie is, as one critic wrote quite accurately, a cross between “Leave it to Beaver”, “Lassie”, and “Night of the Living Dead”. Set in ‘50’s reality, a company has figured out how to tame those flesh-eating zombies that were created after earth passed through a cloud of space gas. After a brilliant opening sequence which sets-up the events to follow, we are witness to one particular family as they try to keep up with the Joneses by obtaining a pet Zombie of their own (portrayed by the hilarious British comedian Billy Connolly). Young son Timmy (note the Lassie reference) affectionately names his “pet” Fido and the fun begins from there. If anything, it should bring back fond memories of the ‘50’s for those old enough to remember. The film was picked up by Lionsgate with a tentative release date later this year. SUNDAY, JANUARY 28 “MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLETT) (***1/2) The Documentary Grand Prize Winner tour de force by Jason Kohn, takes you to one of the most corrupt countries on the planet: Brazil-where bullet proof cars are the norm-if you can afford it. Using pulsating Latin music throughout, this fascinating, never boring doc contains interviews with the owner of a frog farmer who was at the center of a money laundering scheme, corrupt patrons and government officials, a kidnapped victim, a plastic surgeon who is the only doctor in Brazil who recreates the ears of kidnapped victims, and even a kidnapper himself (who, during the Q & A, the filmmaker revealed he himself was recently killed during a shootout). Jason, who is a protégé of famed documentarian Errol Morris, takes us on a thrill ride to a landscape one is thankful to be witnessing from the outside! “HEAR AND NOW (****) This is a wonderfully touching film by director/screenwriter Irene Taylor Brodsky and was the documentary Audience Award winner. It chronicles her deaf-since-birth parents who, at the age of 65, decided to try and discover sound for the first time through cochlear implant surgery-the only surgery that is capable of restoring a sense. Although not the filmmaker’s initial intention, the story slowly evolves into a real life beautiful love story which had the audience wiping tears nearly throughout its 86 minute length. The narration by the filmmaker was magnificent as it drew us into the lives of this wonderful family while asking the main question: would the surgery be successful for both and would it change their life and love if it was a success or failure for either participant? An HBO Films production, it will be making the festival rounds and will be shown on HBO in 2008. SHORTS AWARD WINNERS (**1/2) I was somewhat disappointed in the overall selection. The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking went to the talented Don Hertzfeld for ”Everything Will Be OK”, a creative animated work about Bill as he struggles to find the meaning of life. The Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking went to “The Tube with a Hat”, an interminable exercise of a father and son from a small village who travel to fix their T.V. A total boor! The honorable mentions were as follows: "Death to the Tinman"; directed by Ray Tintori, "The Fighting Cholitas"; directed by Mariam Jobrani, "Men Understand Each Other Better" ("Mardha Hamdigar Ra Behtar Mifahmand"); directed by Marjan Alizadeh, "Motodrom"; directed by Joerg Wagner, "Spitfire 944"; directed by William Lorton, and "t.o.m."; directed by Tom Brown and Daniel Gray. The only standout was “Spitfire 944” in which the filmmaker searched for an 83-year-old WII pilot who views 16mm footage of his 1944 Spitfire crash for the first time. OUT!
Next up, we’ve got Adam, a friend of ours who has sent us festival coverage many times in the past:
Hi Mori and Aint-it-Cool crew, I know you've aready posted quite a few Sundance reports, but I thought I'd send in mine as well, particularly after noticing no one mentioned Zoo (one of the more controversial films at this year's festival). Anyway, I write for a site called Zboneman.com and this was my thirteenth year attending the festival. Many folks out there were calling this the worst Sundance in years (although, as Moriarty stated, it seems like attendees say that every year). Actually, I thought this was one of the better years. Perhaps I just happened to pick good movies. Whatever the case may be, here's a little recap. GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB (Not Rated) The first film I saw at Sundance 2007 ended up being one of the very best. Ghosts of Abu Ghraib documents the torturing of the Iraqi prisoners that lead to infamous photos which appeared in various newspapers, magazines and websites the world over - back in 2003. Through prisoner interviews, guard interviews, and startling photos, director Rory Kennedy offers a disturbing examination of torture and cruelty. And while the movie is a harsh and straight-forward indictment of the U.S. government (one has to wonder why the soldiers who carried out these inhumane orders were punished, while those who handed down the orders were not?), it's also a compelling exploration into the human psyche. What makes people do horrible things. What are our limitations when it comes to inflicting pain on our fellow man. These are just a couple of the questions explored in this haunting film. Ghosts of Abu Ghraib is a tough movie to sit through, particularly given the world's political climate, but it couldn't be any more relevant. This is powerful stuff. Grade: B+ ROCKET SCIENCE (R) Rocket Science was, without question, my favorite film at Sundance 2007. While this wonderfully offbeat high school movie will draw comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite (one of my favorite flicks at the 2005 festival), it isn't nearly as goofy. Featuring terrific newcomer Reece Daniel Thompson as Hal, a quiet, underachieving student with a stutter, and Anna Kendrick as the busybody overachiever who takes Hal under her wing, Rocket Science feels more like the love child of Alexander Payne's (Election) and Wes Anderson's (Rushmore). The film is charming and honest and deserves extra props for avoiding the cliched ending I was expecting. This flick won Jeffrey Blitz the Director's Award (deservedly so) and will be released by HBO Films later this year. Grade: B+ WEAPONS (R) If Rocket Science represents the best of Sundance 2007, then I suppose Weapons represents the worst (I don't count It's Fine! Everything is Fine, for reasons you'll read about shortly). Not that Weapons is all out terrible. It's just never nearly as gripping or profound as it thinks it is. As Weapons delves into it's tale of teen angst (and teen stupidity), it does so out of chronological order (ala Pulp Fiction) and exposes the audience to spontaneous bursts of shocking violence (none more so than the opening frames). In the end, this flick plays like a low rent version of Larry Clark's disturbing Kids. Grade: C ZOO (Not Rated) How's this for bizarre subject matter. Zoo (derived from the word "zoophilia") is a documentary about a man who died of internal injuries sustained while being anally penetrated by a horse. In actuality, this movie isn't exploitive in any way (although the poster for the film would have you believe otherwise–look it up on line), but rather an exploration into the minds of some truly warped individuals. Through recreations and minimal interviews, Zoo aspires to be a haunting portrait of a most unconventional love story. Sadly, though, it comes up short. There's a lot going on in this film. It's an expose on zoophilia, it's about animal rights, and it delves into one's perception of what's right and what's wrong. Unfortunately, it doesn't tread deep enough into any of these various topics to be fully effective. Furthermore, the recreations are distracting. I understand that getting interviews with the actual men who took part in this strange love affair was virtually impossible, but then maybe that's why this film might have been more interesting had it been shot as a narrative. Great cinematography, amazing Phillip Glass inspired score, mediocre movie. (Read a full Zoo review on our "Movie Review" page.) Grade: C+ IT'S FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE. (Not Rated) Crispin Glover's latest film (it's the second in a trilogy that started with What is It?) is one fry short of a happy meal. Glover could be best described as a fusion of Ed Wood, John Waters, and Russ Meyer with a bit of David Lynch thrown in for good measure. His latest cinematic oddity is the brain child of Steven C. Stewart, a sixty- two year old man with cerebral palsy (he died shortly after the film was finished). Throughout the movie we are witness to strange characters (no surprise there) and odd sexual situations. The film itself is poorly made (that would explain the C- rating) but the experience (made all the more entertaining by the giggling pot heads sitting directly behind us) and the Q & A following the film, made this a four star evening. Grade: C- TRADE (R) Trade is a startling and provocative look into the sex trade operation. It shows, in unflinching fashion, how young girls and boys are plucked from their familiar surroundings and sold on the internet. In an odd way, Trade sort of plays like a dramatic version of Hostel. It's a nightmarish business that actually exists and by the end of the movie, it had my stomach in knots. Trade follows a police officer (played by Kevin Kline) who assists Mexican teenager Jorge (Cesar Ramos) in finding his missing sister, but the most effective portions of the movie involve the young, kidnaped victims themselves. Paulina Gaitan is sensational as Adriana, Jorge's little sister, but the movie really belongs to the lovely Alicja Bachleda-Curus as a twenty-something whom, after also being kidnaped, serves as a sort of mother figure to these scared children. I had issues with certain elements as depicted in this movie. The fashion in which these kids are sold on the internet seemed a little too easy, but there's no denying the over all effectiveness of this powerfully unsettling film. The ending in particular, leaves a long lasting impression. On a side note, there's one scene set to a new Rufus Wainwright song that simply gave me chills. Grade: B HOUNDDOG (R) Hounddog was the most talked about film at Sundance 2007. In fact, attendees were so caught up in discussing the films controversial rape scene, that lost in all the hoopla was the sad fact that Hounddog isn't a particularly good movie. That stated, I want to make it clear that I found Dakota Fanning's performance here nothing short of astonishing. She brings depth and complexity to the role of a young girl from a broken home, who must endure the unthinkable. This is her finest hour as an actress, and it's a shame that the writing and direction aren't worthy of her considerable talent. In fact, the same could be said for most of the cast. David Morse is stellar as Fanning's oddball father, while Robin Wright Penn lends a healthy dose of vulnerability to the role of a woman who always runs away from her problems. The flipside is veteran Piper Laurie going way over the top as an insufferably overbearing southern Matriarch. Essentially, she's playing the same part that she played in Carrie back in the 70's. Only here, it doesn't work. The first half of Hounddog starts off strong then quickly loses its way. Grade: C+ BLACK SNAKE MOAN (R) Craig Brewer's entertaining follow up to Hustle and Flow proves that this exciting film maker is the real deal. Black Snake Moan features Samuel L. Jackson as a God fearing old timer who takes it upon himself to purge a promiscuous young woman (played by Christina Ricci) of her "wicked ways." He does so by chaining the licentious spitfire to a water heater and refusing to let her out of his sight. On paper, that probably sounds weird. Who am I kidding? It is weird. Still, the movie works like an absolute charm - fusing elements of drama, comedy and exploitation with a healthy dose of southern mysticism. Jackson gives his strongest performance since Pulp Fiction while the uninhibited Ricci gives a fiery turn as a sexually charged temptress. Further adding to Black Snake Moan's effectiveness is a stellar blues soundtrack. Grade: B+ FIDO (R) Just when you thought the zombie genre had gone as far as it could go (it doesn't get any better than Shaun of the Dead), in walks Fido, a wonderfully inventive meshing of zombie horror and comedy. Taking place in the 50's, Fido imagines a world where zombies have become servants in a kind of strange metaphor for racial prejudice. Young Timmy has always wanted a zombie, but his stern father (played by Dylan Baker) refuses to bring one into the home due to a horrible mishap that occurred when he was younger. Against dad's wishes, mom (played by The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss) brings a zombie home to Timmy anyway. Shortly thereafter, all hell breaks lose. Where this extraordinarily entertaining movie goes, is beyond description. The biggest stroke of genius this film has up it's sleeve is actor Billy Connolly who playfully livens up the proceedings as a zombie called Fido. Grade: B DEDICATION (R) Dedication is an odd but charming little gem about a neurotic children's book writer (Billy Crudup) whose penchant for saying the wrong thing drives away those he cares about most. His strange life becomes uber- chaotic when he's ordered to work with a new illustrator (Mandy Moore). Crudup is endlessly fascinating in this movie and Mandy Moore comes into her own in what is easily her strongest work to date. As a duet, these two actors prove to have real chemistry and while at the surface Dedication's love story seems to be something of a sitcom type scenario, Crudup and Moore make it anything but that. Quirky can be great when done properly, and Dedication does it right. On a final note, a special shout out to the wonderful Tom Wilkinson who soars as Crudup's aging (and somewhat grizzled) mentor. By the way, Deerhoof's oddly infectious soundtrack is perfectly fitting. Grade: B THE SIGNAL (R) There was much buzz surrounding The Signal at this year's festival. It was being hailed a new milestone in the world of low budget horror. Needless to say, I was very excited as I'm a huge fan of the genre. Did the movie live up to the hype? Not quite, but I still found it extremely entertaining, particularly the first half. The film showcases a world gone mad after strange signals start affecting those watching television and talking on cell phones. After being infected by the signal, folks simply start killing one another. The first fifteen minutes or so of this movie reminded me of the opening minutes of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. Right out of the gate, it's sheer chaotic madness on a horrific scale. As the film progresses, a lighter tone surfaces and eventually, the movie becomes a horror/comedy. The Signal is told in three acts, each shot by a different director, and while I enjoyed a lot of it, the shifting of tone becomes a bit jarring. I really had a fun time during this movie, but the second and third acts don't live up to the first. Conceptually, The Signal is quite inventive, and I for one, would like to see this concept explored further. Grade: B- Adam of Zboneman.com
Finally, we’ve got a report from a guy called “The Teach” who is... wait for it... a teacher! He was in Sundance with his students this year, and yet he still had time to see films and to write to us about them. Check it out:
I saw five films while I was at Sundance this past week. I would have seen more, but the fact of the matter is I had to watch my students. I just thank the festival for inviting me. Here is my list of the movies I saw while there. I ranked them in order from best to my least favorite. 1. Snow Angels 2. Chapter 27 3. Black Snake Moan 4. Shorts Program V 5. Sk8 Life Snow Angels I actually got to meet David Gordon Green while I was there. I ran into him at the Entertainment Weekly Café, and we ended up speaking about high school football and our old stomping grounds. We grew up in the same area around the same time. He is a very nice guy, and was not a jerk about talking to an Average Joe. I really enjoyed Snow Angels. Green has a knack for developing his character and story for all of his films. Snow Angels is no exception. I thought the story worked well, and most characters did an exceptional job moving the story along. Sam Rockwell did a good job playing the role of a down and out father who just wants to love his wife. His life has been crushed, and he knows he is the reason why. I was a little afraid that Rockwell would try to infuse too much humor into his character, but he played it cool. The funniest scenes were when you laughed at his character for loving his wife too much. The movie tried to be serious, but allowed for the comical side of relationships to seep in. Kate Beckinsale was pretty good, with the occasional realization that she probably would have never dated Rockwell in the first place. I think they could have toned down her looks a tad to make it a little more true to small town life. Overall she scores as a mom who is just trying to protect her child. However, it is her overprotection that is her downfall. She trusts the wrong people, and on the same hand does not trust ones that will probably be ok. The supporting characters all did well, Nicky Katt being my favorite. It does not matter if he is playing a renegade teacher, or cheater, he is great in almost everything he does. I don’t know if he can command a movie, but he has the supporting character down. I also enjoyed the performance of Michael Angarano. His ability to play the high school student really matches up to the attitude I see walking the halls everyday at my school. The ending was a little hard to swallow, but it was not unrealistic. We have seen it many times, several in the past year. People are in pain. Divorce is rough. And sometimes people care so much they don’t want to go on living. Will this movie going on living, and be bought by a studio. So far, it does not look good. Who cares…Green told me his next movie is an action comedy starring Seth Rogen. Did you say an action comedy from David Gordon Green? Yes, yes I did. I have a funny felling it might be really good. Chapter 27 I will get to my point a little quicker than I did with Snow Angels. That happens to be easier with a movie like Chapter 27. The film focused on one character, and only stretched over a three day period. The period happens to be one of the most devastating three days of a rock and roll fan’s life, with the events that lead up to the assignation of Beatle John Lennon. I could tell from the first ten minutes of this film that the director is going to be a famous director some day. His visuals and shoots were great. Everything from the angels he used, and the way it was shot stood out. That is good when you are making a film about a complete psycho path. You really get inside the head of Mark David Chapman, which is played by a 70 pound overweight Jared Leto. The question and answer after the film focused mostly on Leto’s weight. I think both the actor and director were getting a little fumed by the questioning. Ok, we get it audience, Leto gained and lost weight. Let’s move on. Sorry, I had to vent. Leto did a good job portraying the man behind the assignation. He was a lonely guy who just wanted to meet his idol. How in the world Chapman could score someone like Lindsay Lohan is besides me, but it did not really matter because Lohan was not in the film that long. That is probably a good thing. Anyone could have played that role. Lohan did not add much depth. I ranked chapter 27 higher on the charts because I dig the director’s style. And sometimes that is all that counts when you make a film like this. You know the ending to this film, but that does not matter. It is all about the journey. Black Snake Moan I enjoyed this movie more than some of the reviewers out there. I will warn you that this is no Hustle and Flow. I do not really think it is trying to be. What you have here is a movie that if you do not take it too seriously, it could really be fun. The film starts out with two troubled souls. First, we have Christina Ricci’s character that has a little bit of an itch. Well, it is more of a rash that is out of control. After her boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, leaves for a short stint in the Army, her character goes a little bit out of control. Just like the slogan says, “It is hard out there for a nymph.” It takes Samuel L. Jackson character, who has problems of his own, to make things right. Only Jackson could get over his cheating wife, with his brother no less, to set a little lady straight. Craig Brewer does a good job adding some of the same elements that made Hustle and Flow so popular. The only problem is that he does not add enough. The story gets a little out there after about an hour of Ricci’s character on the chain. Seriously, pull a Saw or something. Have you never heard of a coyote chewing off his leg? It was a little outrageous to think this could happen, but it reminds of a story of a couple in Texas who kept their children chained up in the basement, so I guess anything is possible. However, I think one audience member said it best when she said, “After rolling in the mud, and being chained up for days, how does that girl keep her panties so white?” Overall it was a fun movie with dome good performances. I just wonder how this will play in the theaters after the Brewer fans have seen the film. Will it have legs? Well at least the not on the screen. Shorts Program 5 Simply awful. However, two films out of six were not all that bad. Two Films, The Oates Valor and Das Wind (something like that), stood out from a sea of waste. I see their careers as directors continuing into Hollywood, but Sundance spells the end for most of the pack career wise. You can always check out the shorts online at Sundance.org to make your own judgments. Sk8 Life This was supposed to blend a documentary and narrative into one, but came out the other side as diarrhea. The only good thing about this movie was some of the skate tricks. The kids were awful actors, and some of the lines they would say were terrible. Instead of being themselves, they were actually trying to act. They could have had a decent movie if they went straight documentary. How this got into Sundance is beyond me. These are my views. From Sundance, this is “The Teach”