My second trip to the annual Sundance Film Festival for Blogcritics, started out much differently than in 2010. A fellow press friend of mine (Big Movie Mouth Off’s Jimmy Martin) received a screener copy of The Legend of Beaver Dam. Prior to a trip to our local karaoke bar I convinced him that it would be a good idea to kick start the festival during our bar pre-party and what a grand idea. What director Jerome Sable along with his co-writer Eli Batalion have crafted is a splattacular musical comedy horror hybrid about nerdy Danny (L.J. Benet) who may or may not have saved his fellow campers from the legend of Stumpy Sam (the trailer of which you can watch here).
Another change of pace was the idea to head up to Park City opening afternoon just to pick up my press badge. Along with my Tooele Transcript Bulletin wife/film critic Missy and The Reel Place’s Luke Hickman, we hit the road and ventured up the canyon. Thankfully, along with that first trip, the weather held out for us the entire weekend. Only one snow storm hit while we were up there but not during any drive time. No hour-plus drive through a blizzard for us this year, phew!
The reason for garnering our press badges the day before the Press & Industry screenings was so that when we ventured back up the next day we could find a parking spot, jump in the cattle line and start watching some movies. Having already written full length reviews for eleven of the films I saw, I should still at least mention the rest, right?
Submarine – Armed to the gills with a great cast (Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Paige and Craig Roberts) comes the story of 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Roberts) who just wants to lose his virginity to classmate Jordana (Paige) and save his parents’ marriage from their new neighbor-“ninja” across the street, Graham (Considine). Director Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) has crafted an acutely self-aware story of adolescent selfishness but unfortunately things get far too serious in the end and the tone starts to fall apart. Still worth a look if you’re a big fan of British comedies, it reminds me of the Kiwi Eagle vs Shark from the 2007 Festival.
Bobby Fischer Against the World – Director Liz Garbus may have started this documentary off with the best of intentions, but I’m sure it was Bobby Fischer’s personal ego that got in the way. Another thing that doesn’t help is that the film spends so much time praising Fischer that it forgets to show us why he was such a genius in the world of chess. Walking out of the doc you won’t learn one new thing about how chess is played, but you will be totally convinced that Bobby Fischer is simply another crazy douchebag. Just wait until you hear his highly publicized rants regarding the World Trade Center attack and how America basically had it coming as far as he’s concerned. Yup, while I may have been slightly involved with the proceedings, the whole final 20 minutes or so leave a bad aftertaste which is not likely to be cleansed anytime soon.
There was also two short films screeners afforded to me: All Flowers in Time and Satan Since 2003 – Flowers plays off as if David Lynch decided to remake a smash-up of Halloween III: Season of the Witch and The Ring. While Chloë Sevigny may somehow gives us the most fun performance she’s given since cast to be sulky and bitchy on Big Love, writer/director Jonathan Caouette seems like all he wanted to do was make a 14 minute head trip and I suppose in that aspect he has at least succeeded.
With Satan, director Carlos Puga has crafted an often times hilarious documentary look at the world of “Hell’s Satans,” a motley moped “gang” in Richmond, Virginia. While the owner of Black Swan Books may think they cause a problem with the noise and their rambunctiousness, they just wanna have a little fun and ride their mopeds. Consisting of around 60 members, there are also different turfs and territories (including a group of zaoists who ride their mopeds to church on Sunday) across the local area and a series of hijinks eventually escalates to a moment of sheer terror for Puga involving a vehicular accident and a homemade bomb.