Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Man in Utah Back Home

From the travel weary Sundancer...Gant Lee:

I’ve since made it back to Oklahoma, but I didn’t recap my 4th day of being at the festival. So let me do that right now, complete with mini-reviews!

the comedy

The Comedy was popular at the festival for (apparently) all of the wrong reasons. There were numerous walkouts and critical responses to the film. Naturally, this only fueled my desire to see the film. I love it when filmmakers challenge the audience to see something new. Ultimately, I was satisfied. I’d rather see a film that tries something new and fails than see a film that does something old and boring and succeeds. Rick Alverson’s The Comedy belongs in the former category (minus the failure). The film follows the life of Swanson (played by Tim Heidecker). That’s really all I can say about the narrative (or lack thereof). I think that’s where most people had a problem with this film. Besides the fact that it doesn’t follow the typical three-act narrative structure, the characters are quite volatile. The dialogue is rude and offensive. The first scene of the film is shows a naked party where there is much stumbling, tucking, and beer-pouring. So yeah, I guess the film isn’t for everybody, but it’s funny that people showed up to the film when the write-up for it clearly states that it makes the audience “question their boundaries and whether they should be laughing with it, at it, or not at all.” The film should be discomforting, because it’s a story about the status of a really destructive generation of people. It’s easy to walk out of the film, but it isn’t that easy to dismiss it in real life, something that probably scared those people. Life has become so ironic for these characters that they lash out and behave irreverently. If you think that nobody has the potential to reach this level of indifference, you are sorely mistaken. The only problem I have with this is that the film knows what it’s doing and feels haughty because of it. Thus, there are some scenes in particular that make the film feel a little pretentious. Regardless, The Comedy tried something new and didn’t rely on traditional narrative or technical tactics to get its point across. Although film can be a very entertaining medium, it isn’t always that way. Explicit art is still art. We should always push the boundaries of what can and can’t be filmed. If you can’t accept that, go watch One for the Money. 7/10

With my student pass, I was lucky enough to get into a student-only event where filmmakers would come chat with us, speed-dating style. Boy was that a treat. I didn’t really have a whole lot to ask them (because I don’t necessarily aspire to be a filmmaker), but it was fun listening to them nonetheless. They were nice. They were personal. They were fun. They were encouraging They were human. Those are pretty refreshing realizations when it comes to the film industry.


My last film of the festival was Room 237, a look at conspiracy theories concerning Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. This is the kind of film that I want to see while I’m at a film festival. A film like this probably won’t be hitting every movie screen in America, so I want to see this kind of stuff when I can. I have to say, this is one of the most entertaining documentaries I have seen. But let’s be fair… I love The Shining and Stanley Kubrick. This particular film caters to those individuals. Kubrick was masterful in his filmmaking, and this film is really just an examination of that. This is displayed by a couple of interviews that take place throughout the documentary. None of the interviewees (nor interviewers) are seen during the film so we can pay more attention and listen to what they’re describing concerning the film. What they’re describing is quite humorous. In a lot of funny ways, I will never look at The Shining the same way ever again. Various theories are tossed around such as “Kubrick is commenting on the genocide of Native Americans”, “He’s obviously talking about the Holocaust”, and “This film is helping prove that Kubrick filmed the fake moon landing.” While these statements may all seem ridiculous, they confirm the power of film as an art. We all have different opinions about film and that’s what makes discussing it so fun! Although the documentary mainly looks at The Shining, it’s a movie about us and our fun obsession with finding something deeper in films. A fun, independent gem. 9/10

I can promise one more post. It will include an entire recap of the festival, commentary from a special “guest correspondent”, and thank-yous.

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