CinemaTech
[ Digital cinema, democratization, and other trends remaking the movies ]

AD: Fans, Friends & Followers

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Two Favorite Films at Sundance

I only got to see 5.25 movies at Sundance this year:

    - "The Deal"

    - "The Wackness"

    - "Man on Wire"

    - "American Teen" (.25 of it)

    - "Mysteries of Pittsburgh"

    - "Towelhead"


Hollywood farce "The Deal" was too similar to the much better comedy "State and Main," which also features William H. Macy. I simply didn't care for any of the characters in "The Wackness," a two-hour-plus drug trip (purported to be a comedy), or find any of the plot points believable. Somehow, though, "The Wackness" won the audience award for best drama.

My two favorite films were "Man on Wire," the documentary about Phillipe Petit's walk on a cable strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and "Towelhead," Alan Ball's directorial debut.

In the first, director James Marsh creates a really gripping portrait of an artist who clearly lives in the same world as all of us, but relates to it very differently. (During the Q&A after the film, someone asked Petit how he financed his adventures, and he essentially replied, 'What is money?') And the destruction of the WTC is a subtle undertone throughout the film; it's sweet to be able to blend the memory of Petit's timeless performance on his wire to all the tragic shards of 9/11.

Here's a video interview from Sundance featuring Marsh and Petit.

"Towelhead," the story of a 13-year-old girl's sexual development, is incredibly difficult to watch...If you didn't know what to expect (as many audience members at Sundance didn't), it could be nearly impossible to process, or sit through. It's not as well-rounded as "American Beauty," and the character of the girl's Lebanese father could use more dimensionality, but it's the kind of story that has never been told before on the screen. And it lends itself to deep discussion afterward; on the bus back to the Salt Lake City airport, I debated with the woman sitting next to me whether "Towelhead" is an exploitative look at the main character's sexuality, or an exploration of the tension between pornography, abuse, and a healthy sexual identity (my view).

Labels: , , , , , , ,