Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Man in Utah/Insiders React/First Stabs/Official Congrats

Good's some film stuff...

Cinema Bebop's Gant Lee is on the ground at The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT (and vicinity).  Here's his first post:
Day 1
I’ve made it to Park City and it is beautiful here! The snow is on the ground, people everywhere, and buzz buzz buzz.

The Surrogate and Beasts of the Southern Wild are the talk of the town. Both have been picked up for distribution already (the former for approximately $6 million) and have been the most highly recommended to me. Of course, all showings are sold out and the chances of me getting into either one of those films on my pass are slim. I’d have to be in the waitlist for a couple of hours. Even then… I dunno.

I flew in on Tuesday night and decided to catch one of the midnight screenings. I chose Wrong by Quentin Dupieux. The Frenchman was actually there to introduce his film and was very bashful. He warned us that his tale about a man who has lost his dog was slow, but I’ve seen slower films. Unfortunately, 7 people couldn’t stand it and left during the middle of the film. I can’t get mad at someone for leaving during a film they don’t like had it been at a multiplex. But this is Sundance, and the director was there. I thought it was completely rude for them to leave while the director sat at the back and watched them actively reject the film. Anyway, I don’t feel like full on reviewing the film considering I may have watched it with a tired eye after my long day of traveling. The film got a bunch of laughs from the audience, but not as much from me. There were some truly funny things in the film (like a meditation on the memories of dog poop), but I can’t say that I recommend this film to anyone. The humor is pointless and the story barely exists. I’m hesitant to embrace it positively; it’s somewhere in between average and good. It may get picked up by Magnet like Dupieux’s previous film Rubber (a film about a tire with the ability to kill people). 6/10

This morning, I treated myself to a documentary called Indie Game: The Movie. In a world dominated by Call of Duty and Madden, it’s encouraging to see independent developers making video games. These games are born out of love for gaming, not a love for money. Like many artists, these developers have a passion for their medium and sacrifice a lot to achieve their goals, something that the documentary captures very well. We follow the journey of two games in development dealing with the struggles of working independently. There are tears and a lot of laughs. While it was encouraging to see these ordinary, hard-working guys risk and succeed, we didn’t get a portrait of what the story is for most independent developers, to risk and fail. I understand that it would have made the film a little less happy, but I felt like we didn’t get the whole story on the world of independent game development. Nevertheless, it was fun learning the stories behind the games Super Meat Boy and Braid, two games I’m a little more proud to own now. 7.5/10

My mom joined me for a screening for Rodrigo Cortés’ newest effort, Red Lights. I know that it got picked up early on at the festival, so I wanted to see what Millennium Entertainment saw in it. My only explanation has to be star-power… What started off promising quickly turned to, well, crap… I’m always critical of a film that has one person filling the roles of director, writer, producer, and editor. The film is (virtually) in his hands and if it’s crap, it’s all his fault. But with this film, I had more of a diverse opinion of Cortés. His writing ruined this film. Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver are a team out to disprove the existence of paranormal forces and activities. But, the return of a famous mentalist played by Robert De Niro spells trouble for the duo. My mother and I were happy to see a film approach this material from a skeptical point of view, a rarity among movies concerning the paranormal. But halfway through, the film took a bad turn and ruined a potentially good story.

From a directorial standpoint, Cortés did well technically. The editing was good. The lighting was good. The pacing was good when we cared about the story. All in all, Cortés showed some potential as a director, but the script turns this good movie into a less than average one. 4.5/10
In about 30 minutes or so, I’m heading to a midnight screening of SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS.
See you tomorrow!
Check his blog at:
Rope of Silicon was up with a post last night outlining the hubub of Sundance to date.  Take a look:

Personally, if I get a chance to lobby any of the Telluride programmers; I may urge them to try to get "The Surrogate" much as they did "An Education" a few years back.


From my extensive (OK about half a dozen) contacts in the film biz, here's some reaction to the Oscar nominations announced 48 hours ago:

Almost universal amazement that "Extremely Loud" got a Best Picture nomination.  My buds were using words like "obnoxious" and "lame".  But, you know, somewhere around 250 or so voters must have thought it was the year's best film.  I saw one blogger opine that its inclusion confirmed the power of producer Scott Rudin or the connections of Stephen Daldry.

A good deal of dismay about having only two songs nominated...and neither of them were particulrly songs that anyone thought would.

Also some expressions of dismay about the animated films nominated save for "Rango".

And, as you might expect, there is a significant corner of dismay concerning no nomination for Fincher as director or "dragon Tattoo" for BP, at least among the people I know in side the film industry.

More reaction in my next post...


Meanwhile, The Gurus of Gold over at Movie City News have there first prediction of Oscar winners for the new crop...Look at it here:

They're seeing a pretty good race for Director and Actress and a semi-close race in Adapted Screenplay.  The other five (of the Big 8) categories seem to have prohibitive favorites at this point.


The Telluride Film Festival web site's official congratulatory post to Oscar nominees from TFF#38:


Word that The Academy is headed to the use of online voting in 2013.  Here's the story from The Hollywood Reporter:

More tomorrow.

Follow me on Twitter @Gort2

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