Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sundance: Day Two

I've been so caught up in the Sundance experience that exhaustion is a common thread that has (ironically) held my body together these past few days. So even though I haven't been updating everyday, I still plan on writing about everything I've seen! So I started off Day Two with getting a taxi to the Box Office at 5am. My friend and I waited until 8 (we were about 15th in line) to see if any tickets were available for Day-Of showings. Even though most films were sold out (once films are sold out, the only other chance one has is by waiting in the waitlist line, which can begin anywhere from 2-5 hours before the screening), we did get tickets to Sightseers. This film, directed by Ben Wheatley, was promoted as one of Sundance's favorites that premiered at Cannes. Sidenote: Sightseers is in the Spotlight category and not In Competition.

So this film, premiering at 11:30 at the MARC Theatre, is quite hard to explain without revealing the true atmosphere it creates. The "cold open" immediately evoked laughter, and it left me in such awkward and artistic yet interesting confusion. The juxtaposition of photos of a white terrier with a man pinpointing pit stops on a map, played to an offscreen moaning noise isn't what you first expect from any film. What follows is a melting pot of genres that details a harrowing, yet still comedic journey of a couple travelling to museums around England ("Chris, can we go to the Pencil Museum now?"). Road genre, romcom and gruesome horror slasher is the beginning of the awkward relationship that blooms from the couple. In a way Ben Wheatley becomes a British Tarantino. At each stop along the way, Chris and Tina meet people that rub them the wrong way, leading to their unfortunate- albeit hilarious and hard to watch- demise. The backstory to the introductory shots the dog, later discovered to be the late Poppy, is disturbingly revealed in (once again) an over-the-top fashion.

I can see most audiences having a polarized response to the film, either loving or hating it. The conflict between human vs. nature is prevalent throughout, especially in the many shots of nature and historical locations. So the gruesome, almost unwatchable scenes could easily overshadow Ben's artistic elements which are easy to love and entrancing. I haven't seen Ben's other films but I'll be adding them to my list, regardless of how conflicted I am by the film.

Later Friday Night I waitlisted for Two Mothers, a story of two mothers (*shocking*) who have affairs with each others' sons. Each of the four leads- Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuels, and James Frecheville- exudes a unique chemistry with the other characters. The cinematography is stunningly beautiful! The Australian landscape becomes an important character itself, providing a home to the characters that don't want to leave for Sydney. The capital city, only being shown in two shots, is immediately disguised as impersonal to the relationships the characters form. Even though Sydney borders the ocean, the beach and beach house provide a flourishing and intimate setting. Water is such a key symbol- swimming, surfing, motion of the tide- that immediately reveals nature's central importance.

The film's homosocial depictions are hard to misconstrue. Even in the first sequence with younger versions of Lil and Roz swimming to the pivotal dock out at sea, the framing of their feet swinging through the water lead me to believe they could be more than friends. Later Roz, played by Robin, reminisces about a kiss they both shared as kids when Lil (Naomi Watts) asks her, "Are we lezzos?" Even shots of the two children, Ian and Tom, question their playful relationship; however, the high eroticism is attributed to the more-than-often thinly dressed, or naked, cast. The repeated capture of butts becomes a symbol of the juxtaposition between young and old and frames the question of maturity in the film. The situation is definitely odd, but the characters learn to deal with the consequences and portray a believable, emotional compromise.

Naomi, recently Oscar-nominated for The Impossible, was beautiful on-screen and on-stage for the post-screening Q&A. Anne Fontaine, the French director, misunderstood some of the questions asked during the Q&A. For example, when asked why both mothers kept their wedding rings on throughout the entire film (there are reasons why this may seem unconventional), she responded in confusion. Even after multiple people tried to rephrase the question (I understood), she finally concluded with "Why not?," which is an upsetting answer to an intriguing detail and possible continuity blooper.

The final sequence, as described by my friend as reminiscent of the Horse Head scene from The Godfather,  is so beautiful that I would see the movie again just for the penultimate shot. I have to see it again regardless, but for another reason that links itself to film circuit experience. During the more awkward moments, the audience would erupt in laughter. The first comment that Anne made after the film was that she was definitely not expecting such a comical response. I felt bad during the screening because I was not laughing (there are definitely purposeful humorous moments) and it broke up the dramatic intensity of the scene.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend seeing Two Mothers! It's sure to be released later in the year (it is part of the Premieres category), so keep your eyes peeled!

After the screening Megan & I went to the Box Office to check on Day Of Screening tickets, and since there was a good amount of tickets to screenings we wanted to see, we decided to quickly get food then sleep over- YES, SLEEP OVER- in the building so that we could get a good chance at tickets!  (see Day 3 for more!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sundance: Day One

Day One at Sundance was incredibly unforgettable and surreal! I can't believe that I'm finally here and I think how tired I am can attest to my full exhaust. Once we arrived, I immediately left for the Eccles Theatre so that my friend and I could wait in the waitlist line. We were about 15th in line- not counting the 5 people who ended up cutting in front of us- and finally 22nd. We got in line at 3:30 and finally heard that the first 25 people were being admitted to the screening of May In The Summer. I COULDN'T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY MADE IT IN TO TO THE FIRST SCREENING!!!

Cherien Dabis, the director, opened the film- and in turn the entire festival- with a quote that her mother once said to her: "This is Sunny Dance." And what an introduction to my first Sundance film ever! It was a beautiful film with so many real-world conflicts: parent/child relationships, May at a crossroads in her life in many respects (leading to the overall Sundance theme of arrows and moving forward), and acceptance in religion, sexuality, age, and gender roles & rights.

Also, random celebrity appearance goes to...Bill Pullman!

Afterwards, Cherien explained parts of her filmmaking process, leading to her "speaking star" in casting herself as the lead. She believed in herself and the film, allowing it the chance to flourish with endless positive energy.

Overall, I give the film a 3.5/5. I definitely still want to see her directorial debut, Amreeka.

We've basically been planning all day for tomorrow which is definitely going to be an even more exhaustive day, let alone the 3 or 4 films I plan to see. 3:55am wakeup call, here I come...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



I am honored and utterly speechless to be leaving tomorrow for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah! I will try to update this blog as quick as possible with spoiler-free information and reviews on the newest independent films being released this year. If you have any recommendations or questions, please let me know!!

Django Unchained

I had the pleasure of seeing an advanced screening of Django Unchained December 7th and I couldn't be happier with the result! I had to see it again over break and was again very pleased as well as made some new discoveries a second time around. The screenplay was previously floating around the internet and I would love to finish reading it. Django ("D-J-A-N-G-O. The D is silent") is everything a Tarantino flick should be and I didn't want it to end. From the opening shot of a rocky mountainside with the Django theme song playing in the background to the wide-angle, scenic shots, to the blood baths that shocked me, yet made me not want to look away, it's hard not to fall in love with the entire film. If you haven't seen any of Tarantino's work before, you might think he's purely comedic; the film sustains laughs around every corner. On the other hand, if you've seen other of his films, then you won't be surprised by anything new. He tackles satire and historic events with ease, uses gallons of blood, crafts a pointed screenplay with lots of wit, teases us with flavorful food, and he even makes his cameo (more so exit cameo) with bravado. Tarantino's Best Screenplay win at the Golden Globes (albeit, a bit awkward) was well deserved.

Also, I am EXTREMELY happy for Christoph Waltz and his Supporting Actor win at the Globes! I suppose Tarantino needs to keep casting him as the German with such quick and intelligent dialogue so they can both keep winning awards.

I know this post is a bit late, but still for those that haven't seen Django yet, DO IT!! I will always fully endorse the Oscars binge. Many of the films are quite long-- it seems as if there's been a trend in this lately. However, they are all worth enjoying, for historic and entertainment value. Stay tuned for more Oscars buzz! Just over 1 month away from the celebrated occasion!!!


Heard about this smoothie this week and I have to share it! It sounds delicious and I NEED to make it soon!

Banana Sunshine Breakfast Smoothie

Below are smaller portions compared to the website, which makes 5-16oz. drinks.

  • 1 cup frozen Peaches
  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 16 oz (2 servings) Greek yogurt
  • 2 T. ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, ground
  • 12 oz Blackberry Black Tea, unsweetened, chilled
  • Grind oats into a fine powder and then combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Side note: If you plan on eating these immediately and not freezing them for later consumption, I recommend making the tea ahead of time and freezing them as ice cubes before blending your smoothie.