I’ve never been around groups of critics and press people before. It’s always just been lonely old me going to movies by myself and reviewing them for my school’s paper. But, being at Sundance has thrown me smack in the middle of some very eccentric and strange people.
But, what amazes me the most is that these people of the press, most of them critics, don’t know how to act in a theater. These are people who watch films for a living, and they can’t seem to turn off their iPhones before the movie starts. Others, not the critics I hope, leave continuously throughout the movie. I’ve never been in a theater and seen a intermittent stream of people walking out. It doesn’t matter what the movie is, it just seems that some of these people are far too busy to actually sit through an entire film.
Now that I have that out of my system we can talk about the two films I saw today.
The first was an overall deplorable French film called Louise-Michel. It starts off as a light-hearted dark comedy, and it works for the first few minutes. Louise is an uneducated factory worker who can’t read. One day her factory is shut down, and the women of the factory decide to pool together their pension funds. Each of them gives ideas, but Louise comes up with one everyone agrees with. Whack the boss that shut down the factory.
Enter Michel, a bumbling buffoon of a hit man. He reminded me of a French Chris Farley sans the funny. Michel talks himself up to Louise. He’s the best “professional” around. But, as we soon find out the moron can’t even kill a yappy dog that is annoying an old man.
Everything is good up until this point. We’re laughing along with the characters. There’s some funny lines. But, then the entire plot derails. The derailing is so horrific I would rather not describe it in this review, because it would make me think about the film again. But, in the interest of the reader I will.
Since Michel cannot kill a dog, let alone a person, he recruits his dying cousin to do the job. He walks into her hospital room. She’s bald from chemotherapy. She looks deathly ill, and then Michel tells her that she’s going to die soon why not go out with a bang.
There is nothing funny, or even darkly humorous about this scene. It is repulsive in its concept. Having a cancer-ridden teenager shuffle her way into a party to kill someone is not funny at all.
And so the movie goes, one sick person after another is recruited by Michel because each of the people he recruits keeps killing the wrong person. Throw in a subplot where we are supposed to wonder if Louise is really a girl and if Michel is really a guy. At the end the film tries to redeem the characters. But, it’s a clichéd approach that I won’t give away here, but you’ll know it when you see it.
I’m happy to say the second film I saw was much better. It’s a film that may have a chance in the open market. It’s called Moon and stars Sam Rockwell.
The future is an energy efficient place. Rocks on the moon are being harvested for “Helium 3” a clean burning fuel that is trapped inside of the rocks when the sun hits them. There is one station on the moon that we know of, with the population of one. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell. He’s the lone engineer manning the station. Most everything is automated, and he’s helped with his tasks by a personal computer named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey).
Sam spends most of his time working on a wooden model of a small town. He carves buildings out of wood. He has a contract to work on the moon for three years, and then he can go home. When we join him, he’s got two weeks left on his contract, but the isolation and loneliness has taken its toll.
Soon Sam starts to hallucinate. He sees a women sitting in his chair. Then while driving out to fix one of the rock harvesters he sees something in the distance coming toward him. He can’t make it out. Straining to see the object, he ends up wrecking his rover.
The next scene Sam wakes up in the infirmary. How did he get there? Who brought him there? GERTY the friendly computer is there, but no one else.
After that anything I say may give away the overall secret of the film. But, here is where the film excels. It reveals this secret at the beginning of the second act. For the most part of the film you know the secret, and so does Sam. So, now we’re left wondering how the story is going to go forward, but it does, beautifully. Because the real secret hasn’t been revealed yet. It isn’t until the end that we know the full gravity of the situation Sam is in. He has to make choices. Choices that will affect his life, and the life of others that he may or may not love.
Sam Rockwell is the only on screen actor in this film. It’s an interesting gimmick, which could only work with the energetic Rockwell.
This is a film that will most likely be seen in theaters after the festival. Keep an eye out, you won’t be disappointed.