AMERICAN CINEMA PAPERS
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – 2010
BEST IN SNOW
by Harlan Kennedy
You’ve got to do something to celebrate the 125th birthday of a historic silver-mining town in snowy Utah. Do you party in Park City’s streets? Dance on its mountainsides? Place 125 giant candles on nature’s frosted hills and hire a giant to blow them out?
What you do – better than all these – is re-launch
So we Sundancers came, saw and were
conquered. This was a perkier fest.
There were fewer brain-dead Hollywood blockbusters; also fewer bleeding-heart
indie soap operas. And thank the Lawd there was no LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. (All you who
liked it, get out in front of the firing squad). In
fact a sample of outstanding films – taken by plunging an instrument into an
exact spot in the
Wasatch This Space
Here they are. The best in snow. Proof that 2010 has brought life back to Sundance.
☼☼☼ BLUE VALENTINE. This may be the most powerful troubled-marriage drama, on screen if not stage, since WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Derek Cianfrance has directed just one feature before, but on this showing should be busy for the rest of his life. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play the borderline-blue-collar couple trying to repair their union, while expertly differentiated flashbacks (more saturated colours, more expansive lenses) dramatise their happier days. He is a handyman with ambitions below his mental station – yet content, if marriage would let him be, with love, fatherhood and domesticity. She is a hospital doctor who won’t let anything ‘be’ if it can be cured, reformed or rehabilitated. The grit in their union doesn’t make a pearl; it just makes more grit, culminating in a brilliantly abrasive scene of attempted reconciliation in the ‘Future Room’ of a tacky love-hotel. Amid the bad-dream décor their old love, drained by daily differences, fights to jumpstart itself. It’s a touching, harrowing film. The dialogue has a mod-Strindberg intensity. The acting by the two leads is terrific.
☼☼☼ CATFISH The
best documentaries are dramas in their own right. By power of story and
strength of theme they magic themselves to a higher level. Reportage becomes
art. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman start
by sharing and recording the tickled consternation of their real-life
housemate Yaniv Schulman (Ariel’s brother), a
☼☼☼ CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST. At last. We thought it would never come.
The great sequel to Mark Lewis’s toad movie. This Aussie nature film – see
above for remarks on documentaries that transcend their station – is in 3D
and has already been dubbed ‘Avatoad.’ The warty
horror-creatures originally imported Down Under to eat and control sugar-cane
grubs, which they never did, have multiplied from 100 to 2 billion. They are
hopping, even as we speak, across the top half of
8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION Sundance does what it does best. Banners the power
of movies to beat up on the political or ideological establishment. At least
when that establishment’s integrity goes awol. In
this case the enemy is the Mormon Church. Reed Cowan’s stupendous documentary
exposes the Church’s role in supporting, with word and cash,
So it can – more happily – in
Right. Now, where are my ski’s?
COURTESY T.P. MOVIE NEWS.
WITH THANKS TO THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE FOR THEIR CONTINUING INTEREST IN WORLD CINEMA.
©HARLAN KENNEDY. All rights reserved