hannasus (hannasus) wrote,

Sundance 2006 Report - Part 1

Friday night, the first day of the festival, we managed to see two films. Kinky Boots was a no-go so the first film of our Sundance Experience was, regrettably, a French film by Georgian director Géla Babluani called 13 Tzameti. It's a gritty, black-and-white, extremely tedious story of a man who unwittingly ends up participating in a secret Russian roulette gambling club. The plot unwinds at the pace of garden slug and the most exciting sequences include a lot of repetitive shots of a bare light bulb, in addition to a number of people getting their brains blown out. Yay. The Q&A with the director afterwards was only slightly more interesting than the film itself, though considerably less violent. This is one of the movies in competition at the festival so I got the satisfaction of giving it a very low score on my audience award ballot.

After that was The Proposition, an Australian western about the Burns brothers gang written by Nick Cave. (Yes, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave.) It stars Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, John Hurt, David Wenham (looking and acting, to our utter dismay, possibly as unattractive as he's ever been), and Emily Watson. The film was very well done (particularly the cinematography, which was gorgeous), but exceptionally violent. Like, stomach turningly violent. But Guy Pearce and Nick Cave showed up to introduce it, along with director John Hillcoat (although, sadly, no Faramir), giving us our biggest celeb sightings of our entire festival experience. No Q&A, afterwards, though, which was disappointing.

Saturday morning started out with a film called Special, starring Michael Rapaport. It's a bleakly comic story of a man who enters a drug trial and ends up believing he's got super powers. It has some funny moments and some very nice performances, but it's a little uneven and eventually spirals into a rather dismal and (again) violent outcome. There was a Q&A afterwards with director/screenwriters Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore and cast member Robert Baker (whom some of you might know as the bigger one of the two college students Veronica busts in "The Wrath of Con"), who was one of the best things about the film.

After that we trotted over to the Rose Wagner Theater for our next flick, La Tragedia de Macario, about 19 Mexican immigrants who suffocate in the back of a trailer while trying to cross the border. Whee! This movie is bad. Like, appallingly amateur, to the extent that you're embarrassed not only for the actors and filmmakers, but for Sundance for selecting it. It's so bad that you end up struggling not to laugh during some of the most tragic moments in the story, because it's so poorly done. And then you feel guilty for laughing at such a horrible (and true) story that deserves much better treatment than this. It incorporates the traditional Mexican corrido by having the Virgin Mary (draped in a cheap satin shawl that makes her look like a cross between Arwen and a prostitute) repeatedly intrude on the story to sing a ballad that literally describes everything that's going to happen in the story RIGHT BEFORE IT HAPPENS. It's like some twisted version of "Trapped in the Closet" where you have to listen to the song and then watch the video. Over and over again. On top of that, the camera-work is clumsy and blatantly out of focus, the acting is wooden, and the sound editing is positively excruciating.

Afterwards, the writer/director, an earnest UTSA student with no idea how terrible his movie is, proudly introduced his director of photography, "who was only 17 at the time he shot the movie!"

Sus: Ah ha!
D: That explains so much.
M: Get. A. Focus. Puller.

Later during the Q&A, someone asked how long he'd spent on the film and he told us that he was so inspired he wrote the entire screenplay in EIGHT HOURS. (Sus: *head explodes*) The rest of the Q&A was a quagmire of idiotic non-question questions.

Audience member: My grandmother survived the Holocaust and this movie reminds me of that.
Filmmaker: I copied a scene from Schindler's List!
Sus: Kill me now.

And this masterpiece, my friends, is one of the few select films to be picked up by a distributor since premiering at Sundance. *boggles*

More tomorrow...
Tags: sundance

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