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SUNDANCE 2001: ALL SUNDANCE FILMMAKERS - READ THIS!!

Published at: Jan. 15, 2001, 10:19 p.m. CST by staff

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

When John Robie and I firmed up our plans last week to attend Sundance, we began reading the program notes in depth, looking at what sort of choices we'd have to look forward to. As I started talking with other columnists and writers and filmmakers in town, I immediately started hearing, "Oh, it's a lame year," or "There's nothing playing," or some variation thereof. I've heard that every single year since I moved here in the summer of '90, but since I've never been scheduled to go, I never really paid much attention. To me, it's the sound of people who have become too accustomed to the idea of a film festival, people that are jaded from repeat exposure. I'm going to Park City for one reason this year: to see some movies. I found 54 films that I was interested in to some degree, and I decided that Robie and I should each make a list of the top ten films we're interested in for the festival. We're going to try to see way more than ten, obviously, but these are the ones we're immediately taken by. Robie sent me his list earlier today:

There’s no order to this list. I tried to shy away from the more mainstream fare like DONNIE DARKO, NOBODY'S BABY, MEMENTO, SUPER TROOPERS, and THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE, but of course I want to see those, too. Of course I want to be cool and tell everyone about the Sundance IT movie. “Hey, I saw Happy, Texas!” Hey, shut up, asshole.

L.I.E.

If it pulls off its premise – a boy falls for an older man he meets online - then it’ll be the first film I’ve ever seen to do so. And if it doesn’t it’ll be a train wreck.

CHILDREN UNDERGROUND

It’s a documentary about Romanian orphans. Hilarious.

BROTHER

It’s directed by Takeshi Kitano and everyone tells me that he’s hip. Jesus, I hate that word...

DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS

It’s about time someone looked at skateboarding with a real sense of history, and Sean Penn narrates. He doesn’t direct it, thank God. If he had it would’ve ended with the skateboarders getting run over by a bus.

SOUTHERN COMFORT

It’s a documentary about discrimination, family, and female-to-male transsexuals. I find the idea of female-to-male transsexuals absolutely fascinating.

HOME MOVIE

It’s a Chris Smith documentary about people and their homes. Not the Chris Smith I grew up with and that went to Harvard to play football. The Chris Smith that made American Job and American Movie and who knows the difference between laughing at people and laughing with people and knows that, inherent in the compassion the second allows, it’s okay every once in a while to do the first.

THE BLEEP BROTHERS

Because the hardest I have ever laughed is watching clips from Japanese game shows and this movie is about two filthy, filthy Japanese comics.

RAW DEAL: A QUESTION OF CONSENT

I remembered hearing about the rape/faked rape the film is about, and I remember being alternately disgusted and fascinated by the whole situation.

THE MIDDLE PASSAGE

I’ve seen very good looks at every aspect of slavery except the passage from there to here, and that’s what this one promises to be about.

101 REYKJAVIK

I don’t want to see it more than any other film I’ve heard of. And that’s why I want to see it.

I would definitely echo some of Robie's choices, specifically DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, RAW DEAL, THE MIDDLE PASSAGE, THE BLEEP BROTHERS, and HOME MOVIE. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm dying to see DONNIE DARKO and THE DOE BOY. There's a number of films that are high-profile that I know I'll get a chance to see in a theater, and as much as I'm interested in THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE, THE ROAD HOME, CHOPPER, Bill Plympton's MUTANT ALIEN, HEWIG & THE ANGRY INCH, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, SERIES 7, DOUBLE WHAMMY, THE DEEP END, or SEXY BEAST, I know I will see them at some point. Instead, though, I'm going to add ten films that I'm equally interested in, but that feel like more of a priority for me personally:

WAKING LIFE/TAPE

What? Two new films from Richard Linklater? What did we do to be so freakin' lucky? Of all the guys who really found their voice in the '90s, Linklater remains the one I have the highest hopes for. Quentin Tarantino's got more sass, Rodriguez has more flash, but Linklater's got the soul, and that's what makes DAZED & CONFUSED and BEFORE SUNRISE so great. Here, he's pushing himself to two extremes, making an experimental animated film and an enclosed character drama, and I'm dying to see both.

HAIKU TUNNEL

Looks like a comic nightmare, and for anyone who ever did temp work like I did, it could be both harrowing and hysterical.

LIFT

Set in the world of professional shoplifting. It's this kind of glimpse into a subculture I don't know first-hand that I pray for with indie cinema.

THE BELIEVER

Looks like a fascinating glimpse at what draws young men into neofascist organizations. Should make a great double feature with my next selection.

INVISIBLE REVOLUTION

This portrait of the changing face of hate in America looks like the documentary version of THE BELIEVER, and it'll be interesting to compare the two after all is said and done.

STARTUP.COM

The creative team behind THE WAR ROOM is bringing this look at the current boom/bust business model in the online world, tracing a company's rise and fall. For obvious reasons, I'm fascinated.

GO TIGERS!

Like DONNIE DARKO, this is one of the titles everyone keeps mentioning to me. This is a slice of life set in a small Ohio town that depends on high school football to define themselves, and it's supposedly a winner. I'm not normally a fan of this genre in fiction films, but a real gem like RUDY can win me over, so maybe this one will, too.

TREMBLING BEFORE G-D

The film deals with Orthodox and Hasidic Jews who have come out as homosexuals, and the ramifications of that on their spiritual lives. For me, though, four words determined that I had to see the film next week: music by John Zorn. He's a jazz genius who I'm in awe of, and if he did the score, I'l see the film. It's just that simple.

CHAIN CAMERA

Kirby Dick's last Sundance documentary was SICK: THE LIFE OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST, one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen. This time, he's asked high school students to take turns living with a video camera for a week, then passing the tape and the camera along to the next student in what sounds like a powerful look at the real face of teenage America.

AN UNFINISHED SYMPHONY

Henryk Gorecki's SYMPHONY OF SORROWFUL SONGS. Unseen footage of a Vietman era demonstration by returning veterans against the war. Narration by historian Howard Zinn. Sounds great to me.

So here's the deal: if you're involved with the films on this list, or if you think we've overlooked a film, THEN GET IN TOUCH WITH US!! And you "bigger" films, don't think we're dissing you. We're not. I certainly hope to get into some of the big-ticket items as well. Bottom line, everyone... we want to see your films!! Admittedly, we're giving a bit of a cold shoulder to some of the other fests in town next week, but there's only two of us going. NoDance, DigiDance, Slamdance, and even Tromadance all sound like they've got a lot to offer the adventurous viewer, and if we get the chance, we'll do our best. For right now, though, we're still trying to sort out the main event.

We can be reached at (323) 851-6038 until Thursday the 18th, and starting on Friday the 19th, we can be reached at (435) 654-0201. For those of you who have already started contacting us, thank you. We are sorting everything out now, and we appreciate your efforts. These next few days are going to be manic. We're running one quick spy mission before we leave town (think Ivan Reitman and David Duchovny... think crater sets...), but we'll be making calls and trying to organize things until the second we leave.

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 15, 2001, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Be Sure to check out HAIKU TUNNEL, directed by Jacob Kornbluth &

    by Randfilms

    Hey, these guys are great! Their friends of my girlfriend's and I saw this as a staged reading here in San Francisco before they began shooting last summer. It was really cool. They've got some character acter guy (forget his name) from several of the Coen Bros movies and it's pretty damn funny. This project lived at Miramax for a long time many years ago, but never saw the day of light, until the light of day in the form of INDEPENDENT film production made it a reality. Check it out!

  • Jan. 15, 2001, 11:22 p.m. CST

    One Word - SLAMDANCE!

    by Randfilms

    Some of the coolest pics are up the street from Sundance at the nearly institutionally (seems like an institution sometimes!) recognized, "other fest" known as SLAMDANCE. The pics are often just as slick, oftentimes not, but very often SUPER COOL. I was lucky enough to screen there back in 1999. My CAGED had great reviews to being called the "Worst film at SLAMDANCE" in 1998 by... Oh, I forgot that rags name. Was in print, now only online I think... Anyway-- I'll be back. Bastards. -Rand Alexander

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 7:17 a.m. CST

    WTF is up with John Robie's title?

    by Jobriga3

    Never heard of a pornagraphic font before.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:39 a.m. CST

    101 REYKJAVIK is BRILLIANT!

    by _pi_

    Although I'm from Iceland I'm not very fond of Icelandic movies, which are mostly worthless pieces of crap. 101 Reykjavik is not. It is a hilarious film and you won't be sorry for seeing it. And Moriarty didn't mention The Cell, how odd...

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Don't miss CHOPPER!

    by artsnob

    If it's the same version that screened at the Toronto Film Fest, don't miss CHOPPER! This will probably be your only chance to see it uncut, because the version I saw would probably have to be toned down to avoid an NC-17 rating. Simply incredible performance by Eric Bana ... Chopper is one TWISTED MF! Greatest "scum" performance by an Aussie since Russell Crowe in ROMPER STOMPER!

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 2:55 p.m. CST

    startup.com

    by s0l0w0rx

    I checked out their site www.wildatstart.com and it appears to be a pretty decently shot documentary. As a fan of docs and from being associated with failed startups I'll definitely take an interest.

  • Jan. 17, 2001, 1:11 a.m. CST

    reykjavik 101 very cool... literally.

    by Volodya

    I saw this film at the Icelandic film festival at the American Cinematheque last year and it was by far the most brilliant and original film of the whole festival. A lot of people would label this film as the "Icelandic Pulp Fiction," and in a sense, they're true. I think the reason why this is opinion is circulated within the people i know saw the film, is because by the end, you have this "OH!!! I get it!" type of reaction. And which film other than "Pulp Fiction" caused that in the last 10 years? (please don't say "The Sixth Sense")