Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sundance - More Movie Reactions

Robot & Frank

I chose this movie because Frank Langella is fantastic.  It's set in a "near future" where an older man who lives alone is having some... memory issues, and his son decides to invest in one of those new fangled robots that will him set a routine - everything from cook his food, to stimulate his mind by planning activities like gardening. When the old man decides

The film is being praised for its heart and I agree that exists there in abundance. And I did enjoy it, but I thought the script was sloppy - too many convenient turns of event, many of which I was like "ehhhh - I really don't believe that would happen."  But, I liked all the images from the future (really cool imagining of personal electronics and cars- felt credible, not silly) as well as some of the modern cultural struggles like what becomes of libraries.  I just couldn't really think of this movie as anything other than just "good."

My Best Day

Ah - a NEXT movie.  Quirky characters, off-the-wall situations, no actors you've ever recognized from anything before, a first time film-maker/writer/etc.  Not that ANY of those things are bad, it's just what I have come to expect from a movie screening in this section of Sundance.

And this one was no exception.  A movie where everything takes place in one day.  A young woman forced to work at her receptionist job at a refrigerator repair place on the 4th of July gets a call about a broken appliance, and when she takes down the info she realizes it's the name of her father, whom she hasn't seen since she was a toddler, along with her sister who left with him at that time.  From there we meet an entire cast of interesting folks, from his bullied-but-determined youngest son to the total player (and hilarious) lesbian repair woman.

I enjoyed a couple of the running gags, especially the one that had one adult traipsing around a small town looking for meatless meat.   To me, the film had great intent and kept me entertained throughout.  But a few of the performances left something to be desired, and the plot as a little zany.  I will remember the movie fondly and look forward to what the cast and crew do next, particularly the writer/director Erin Greenwell and one of the lead characters, Ashlie Atkinson.

Me at the Zoo

I'm not a YouTube person. I've used it more over the last three days, coincidentally, than I have in probably the last year.  I don't know why I selected this documentary of Chris Crocker since not only had I not heard about him, but the YouTube culture doesn't particularly interest me in and of itself.  I don't think it was a bad film at all - it was certainly put together well.  But there's just nothing redeeming or interesting about the subject who is, by the way, someone who I learned has been video blogging since his early teens and was the guy behind the "leave Britney alone" videos.  It reminded me of a vapid version of the film Tarnation. I didn't understand the need to make this movie.  I'm not saying the kid hasn't had tough times or that portions of his story weren't compelling but his overall persona was overwhelmingly obnoxious and nothing was really done to explain exactly why we should care about him.   If this is a movie for our time or that says something about the 21st century in any way,  all the more reason to really wish I'd been born about 50 years earlier.

Black Rock

The Duplass family (Jay & Mark, Mark's wife Kate Aselton) can do basically no wrong in my eyes. The Puffy Chair, Baghead, Cyrus, Jeff Who Lives at Home - all big favorites of mine (especially that last one).  Kate's first film as a director was The Freebie which I wouldn't necessarily rank above the aforementioned titles in any way, but it was good enough. Anyway - since Mark Duplass wrote Black Rock, with Kate directing and starring, I was expecting quite a treat.

It starts out as three 30 year old old friends going on a camping trip to an island off the coast of main. Two of them take some serious convincing since they have been out of touch following an incident several years back, but they're ultimately talked into it by the peacemaker of the group (Kate Bosworth).  Of course since this film in is in the midnight section, you can imagine that what starts off as a harmless camping with cute, natural dialogue set against gorgeous scenery quickly goes south when they meet a few other guys on a hunting trip on the island. They're military buddies who've been back from the middle east for only a few weeks. 

It was a fun and scary if not terribly original thriller, and I am glad to have seen it. It's not my favorite genre by any means but I enjoyed it a lot. The strength of the film came from the chemistry between the three women.  For some reason Kate Aselton reminded me of Jenny Lewis. I guess it was the red hair and the bangs.

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