Archive for January 22nd, 2009

Sundance VII: Soderbergh, Sin Nombre

January 22, 2009

The evening with Steven Soderbergh at the big Eccles Theater turned out to be a screening of a rough cut of his next film, “The Girlfriend Experience.” It was shot in October last year and though it was written last spring it felt like it was written in the weeks after the bottom dropped out of the economy. Soderbergh apologized for the film’s “look”  – something something digital, something something file size – but what we saw was an old-fashioned beautiful European film that held  scenes and conversations (and silences) whose enigmas don’t reveal themselves immediately. The film follows the life of a high-end escort whose career is taking off despite  the economy, and while all around her the talk is about money, “now not being the right time” and so on. The story is cut up and told out of chronology, so scenes feel more unsettled and volatile — psychological —  than they would if they were told linearly, and the naturalism of the performances is startling given that the only actor with previous experience in front of the camera is the lead (a porn star named Sasha Grey). It’s a really alluring film; I wanted to see it again, right away.

One of the other films in competition is “Sin Hombre,” a first-time feature by Cory Joji Fukunaga. About a gang member in Chiapas who wants to get out. Willy/Caspar (the latter his gang name) escapes on a train headed north, as the gang pursues him, and as he meets a girl, her family, and hundreds of other Mexicans who are aiming to cross the border into Texas. The film is a dark, violent, romantic escape movie, and a tour-de-force of filmmaking. 

Sundance VI: Humpdance

January 22, 2009

Wireless is harder to come by in Park City than you may imagine,  and a couple of days ago I found myself checking email at a Starbucks.  My phone rang shortly after I sat down, and when I mentioned the good news about “Humpday” an off-duty Starbucks manager sitting across from me gave me the thumbs up and nodded, whispering something like, “Oh yeah. I have to see that.” I had to, too, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I did. By then the film had sold to Magnolia Pictures, had become a festival phenom such that random Starbucks managers had put it on their To Do lists, and it was seriously up for prizes.  Sitting in the theater, before the film started, I wondered if the build-up might be too much. But the film held me – and everyone else — from the opening scene. The basic storyline is funny – a couple of old college friends, both straight, decide to make an “art” porn film starring themselves – and the film has a lot of laughs in it, squirmy and otherwise, but it’s the honesty of the performances that makes it as good a film as it is. 

Final Day for 21 Landings

January 22, 2009

Just a friendly reminder that today is your last day to watch Britta Johnson’s 21 Landings installation at NWFF. Says The Stranger, “This is a singular opportunity to wander into a movie theater—it plays all day, for free—and sit in the dark with a few other people and contemplate something not of this world.”

The landings stop at 5pm tonight.

21 Landings

First Review of Little Dizzle

January 22, 2009

via Creative Loafing

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle
The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

Kaye Breeman

Kaye Breeman

I’ve just left the theater after seeing the Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, and would go to sleep, however I’m too… well… excited. This film was great, not that “great” even comes close. Odd. Puzzling. Emphatic. Ambiguous. Invigorating. Hilarious. Unique. Well, I guess those are closer. But seriously, at what other time in your life could you feel your stomach churn with empathy, or anything at all for that matter, for a man sitting on his kitchen counter staring into the sink at a little blue fish that has recently exploded out of his butt?! This is one of the many feats that director David Russo accomplishes with this film. You are drawn to investigate emotions, implications, and ideas in a story so far-fetched and unrealistic, and yet are so entirely immersed that you hardly have time to doubt.

The film starts when Dory, a strangely religious man, loses his temper at his cubicle job and subsequently loses his job as well. After a fruitless job search, he falls in with a group of misfits that work at Spiffy Jiffy’s Janitorial Service. Late at night, while blasting heavy metal music over the loud speakers, the team cleans, investigates, and sometimes fornicates in the office building. However, this all gets messy when a product testing company decides to use them as guinea pigs for their new product: cookies that emulate oven freshness by warming in your mouth (because god forbid you actually bake your own cookies!). The cookies have some strange side effects though, including being completely addictive, inducing hallucinations and extreme sodium consumption, and quasi-pregnancies that result in the birth of a small blue fish.

The Dude Gets Punched

January 22, 2009

I found this today over at David Hudon’s IFC Daily. Perhaps the best “gossip” out of Sundance.

No film blog with an eye on Sundance, even one as many meta-steps away from the festival itself as this one, can get away without mentioning Wednesday morning’s Main Event: a Variety critic punched the Dude! Not just any dude, but the Dude, producer’s rep Jeff Dowd, the widely acknowledged inspiration for Jeff Bridges‘s character in “The Big Lebowski.” Anne Thompson has pretty much all the detail the scuffle warrants, but just for kicks – seriously, just for kicks: let’s not actually open the movies-into-violence can of worms – we might entertain the idea that John Anderson was a tad juiced up by the film he’d seen the day before.