Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sundance Dispatch #2

Opening night hoopla aside, we get into the reason for the whole thing, them films.

Behind the rivalry of one-time friends who become famously bitter enemies, it wasn't just the namesake fight that pitted Mohammed Ali against Joe Frazier. For those of us unfamiliar with the backstory, THRILLA gives a detailed insight into one of the greatest fights in history from mostly Frazier's point of view. Thoughts return to James Toback's TYSON (also playing here), the one-sided confessional spin that Ali never had.

In the future, the world's energy problems are solved by mining helium from the moon. All it takes is a HAL-like machine and Sam Rockwell. And Sam Rockwell. And Sam Rockwell again. Take 2001 and SOLARIS, PRIMER and TIMECRIMES, mix them in a blender, throw in a pinch of family life, the Tennessee Titans logo (??), throw it in a blender, garnish it with right-wing radio, and you have MOON.

HUMPDAY is basically a post-mumblecore riff on OLD JOY. It's set in the same region, the same characters, ahem, male-bonding - two old friends: the newlywed and the traveler who shows up one day who even looks similar to Will Oldham - but it's as if they've consciously taken any perceived homoerotic subtext from OLD JOY and ran amok with it. You can almost imagine how the idea for the film came about. It's probably not unlike the scene that sets the film in motion when the two guys, drunk at a small party, decide to make a film on a dare. In the film, it's two straight guys making gay porn, but in reality it's HUMPDAY. The thing is that it's funny as hell and it works.

Kevin Bacon plays a Marine analyst with a degree of guilt over his cozy office job. Feeling inadequate while other Marines fight on the ground in Iraq, he volunteers to escort the body of a fallen soldier from Dover to Wyoming. It's a powerful with a solid performance from Bacon and is for some reason going straight to HBO.

Shortly, I'll be taking in BIG RIVER MAN, which was mentioned a few posts back in our mentions of Nashville representation at this year's festival. Much more to come, and hopefully we'll hear from fearless Belcourt Managing Director Stephanie Silverman who is also here navigating the screenings and black ice on the sidewalk (my poor scraped hand)....

--Toby Leonard


Christopher Shappley said...

What movies is the Belcourt going to try and get to come to Nashville?

Anonymous said...

When is moon coming to Nashville

Toby Leonard said...

Good timing...some of this is starting to emerge. MOON, RUDO Y CURSI and HUMPDAY will get a summer release, the formers earlier than the latter. THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE will come out in, well, September. As for which play the Belcourt, we shall see...