As you may have noticed, I am falling ever slightly behind in writing about the movies I've seen.
The three of you who've been reading my Sundance blog from years past won't be surprised by this - I always run out of steam about this point in time and then start feeling badly about it.
Maybe I'll take a different approach and just mention a few favorites, for now.
This is a world doc, and a very personal story - written and directed by a grown woman looking to understand more about the father who left her and her mother when she was an infant. Her famous father, who despite having grown up in the US, became a successful Flamenco guitarist in Spain. For the first five or ten minutes of this movie I doubted the relevance or entertainment value of such a private drama, but as the story unraveled it got more and more compelling, thanks in part to the way she chose to reveal key details about her dad's past. In the end I found it surprisingly relatable even for someone without any dad issues. I hope this little movie has a life after Sundance.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
This is the one everyone's been freaking out about. I didn't have it on my list initially - not because it didn't look good, but simply because it was on the very first page of the film guide and when I printed out the PDF to select my films, I left that page behind. Of course after people started losing their shit about it I quickly squeezed it into my schedule and of course it did not disappoint. Which actually says a lot considering the massive hype around it - as only Sundance can manufacture.
I can't really add much to the dialogue about this one that hasn't already been said but I agree with everyone who says it's positively gorgeous to watch, heartfelt without being cheesy or sentimental, and original as just about anything I've seen here. It's a bit of a cop-out to compare an original movie like this to any other movie but if I had to, I'd say it's maybe Tree of Life meets The Rescuers. The movie does contain one device I normally cannot stand in movies and that's children who are wise far, far beyond their years. I can't explain why it didn't really bother me here - possibly based solely on the strength of the kid's performance.
Oslo, August 31st
This one is probably my #1 favorite of the festival so far. It's about a recovering addict out on a day leave from rehab, to sort out his affairs and go on a job interview in preparation for release. You've seen movies with a story like this before, but none this poetic, none this gut-wrenchingly real and beautiful. This one hit me very hard. A heavy film but also in some way revelatory.