Monday, August 26, 2013

Sundance: Day Three

[I know this is quite a delayed post; I just found it in my drafts folder. It may be a bit incomplete in terms of the day's agenda, but it is still telling of recent wide releases.]

Once we got to the cashier for Day Of tickets, I got a ticket to Touchy Feely later Saturday at noon and Breathe In for 8:30am Sunday morning (see Day 4 blog!). So thankfully I got an hour nap before the screening-- especially because I just had about 3-4 hours sleep...on a cold, tile floor.

I was extremely excited for Touchy Feely- I've kept an eye on Rosemary Dewitt ever since her role on United States of Tara. The director introduced the film and was extremely happy to be a part of Sundance US Dramatic Competition once again, especially because she is one of the eight women competing. Yet, I was disappointed by the film. Don't get me wrong, Lynn Shelton incorporated interesting techniques that illustrated Abby's internal conflict; microscopic rack focus shots of the skin show Abby's impending claustrophobia towards her massage patients. A later ecstacy-scapade also creates a surreal environment for the drugged characters. The supporting cast is impressive with Allison Janney topping the lot. Josh Pais' awkward Paul, a dentist who mysteriously gains healing powers to cure TMJ in his patients provides most of the comic relief (is it coincidence that all of the supporting casts' lives get better once Abby undergoes mental distress?). The main reason why I was disappointed with the film was by the short ending that really didn't explain the resolutions. Character's emotions and thoughts drive the narrative, yet the conclusion is so abrupt. Another highlight is Tomo Nakayama's "Horses" (found here) which he plays during the climax of the film. The song captures the delicacy of each character and his/her struggle to discover himself/herself. His voice is stunning, but his character reminds me of a similarly awkward Michael Cera from Juno.

I was excited to see Ellen (and get her autograph), Allison, Lynn, and Rosemary after the screening behind Eccles!!

The rest of my day can be summed up shortly with cinematic disappointment. After the screening I went to the Morningstar Farms restaurant with a newly made filmmaker friend. The restaurant is famous during the festival because they are serving FREE lunch & dinner: veggie burgers and veggie chili. Can't go wrong with free food! Then after lunch I went to wait in line for the premiere of Toy's House. I was 7th in line, with Nick Robinson's aunt and friends ahead of me (he's the lead in the film). I think I arrived around 4:15 and waited until 8:30, and after they let 6 people into the screening, I was the first person to not be given a ticket :'(  I was devastated, but for a happy ending, see Day 5... I really wanted to see Mud and Interior. Leather Bar. which were premiering at the same time, but since I HAD to try to get to the premiere of the film I was an extra for, I had to deal with only seeing 1 film today.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Goodbye, Summer...

With the summer winding down, I was trying to make a Best Of Summer list and quickly realized it was an amazing summer for indie & Sundance films! The Spectacular Now definitely makes the Top 5 along with The Bling Ring, The Kings of Summer, Before Midnight, and Fruitvale for the independents and The World's End, World War Z, This Is The End, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Despicable Me 2 for the blockbusters (take into consideration that I did miss out on some other good ones, apparently). I'm not big on star-studded, action-popping blockbusters but I do enjoy a mind-numbing cinematic experience from time to time. Other Sundance films that have been making their rounds include: Blackfish, In A World..., Don Jon, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Way, Way Back, The East, Stoker, Top of the Lake, Stoker, Austenland, Adore/Two Mothers, Upstream Color (now on Netflix), We Steal Secrets, After Tiller, and soon to be released: Kill Your Darlings (!!!!!!), Concussion, A Teacher, Afternoon Delight, Breathe In, and A.C.O.D. (Jobs, Lovelace, Touchy Feely, and The Book of Love among the Black Sheep of the lot).

What other films did you love this summer and which do I NEED to see stat??


A Post-workout milkshake/smoothie:
1 serving

1/2 banana (frozen or fresh)
1 handful strawberries (just to sweeten)
1 spoonful (chocolate) protein powder
2 Tbs. peanut butter
1/2 cup ice
cover ingredients in blender with (vanilla) soymilk


The Spectacular Now

I'm not really sure how to even begin to translate the emotional shock I'm in right now into words. Most of all I just feel disappointed in myself for not giving The Spectacular Now a chance during Sundance this year. The characters, the story, the hardships, the hope, the future. A seemingly redundant high school flick soon turns into an emotional journey for two vastly different (yet very true) personalities in small town-paper route America. The cold open (so to speak) allowed the audience to quickly understand Sutter's role and his alcoholic crutch. His uninhibited nature allows the intensity to build to the slap-in-the-face title frame where the towering NOW could only mean a deeper look into Sutter's imperfect mind. The awkwardness between Sutter and Aimee Finicky is so palpable that it becomes part of and creates the reality with which the audience falls in love. The best of the script lies in the pain family causes both teenagers, discovering yourself with and through someone else, and allowing yourself a potential future even with considerable imperfections. Let alone the phenomenal cinematography and my geeky side that fell in love with the many long takes.

I was considerably surprised by the weight this film carries in terms of emotional power, sensuality, and honesty, and its ability to merge these milestones with such grace. Sutter is your typical high school bro, looking to score with girls, have fun at parties, and get by in school without working too hard. It is so frustrating to see him constantly looking at Cassidy when he has Aimee comfortably in the palm of his hand; yet, his flip-flop tendencies caused by raging testosterone levels are actually 100% real in high school (and college...) populations. While his transformation from start to finish is expansive, it is definitely believable and possible unlike in many movies. Even I began to see a part of Sutter inside of myself.

Sutter leaves the audience with some of the best advice: "The best part about now is that there's another one tomorrow." Live your life, laugh, and definitely love. The film shows how easily you can live without fear simply by letting your guard down and allowing someone to believe in and love you. Realizing that change is always present will make you stronger and keep you fighting for what you truly love.

You'll leave the theatre with a new understanding of the word 'spectacular.'

Because-I-have-a-ton-of-baby-spinach-lying-around smoothie:


1 banana (small frozen ripe, peeled)
2 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp peanut butter
3/4 cup milk (almond or soy to be healthy)
1/2 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt

as seen here.