Sundance VII: Soderbergh, Sin Nombre

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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. 

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