Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sundance Dispatch #4

So, it's dinnertime on Sunday and there are a few more films to go tonight. Given a few minutes, here is another round with a little overlap from Stephanie's last post. I had a picture to post, but I thought it in questionable taste. E-mail me if you want to see...

Concerning overweight endurance swimmer Martin Strel whose daily routine consists of 30-50k swims, driving on two bottles of wine and being Slovenia's biggest celebrity/ambassador, BIG RIVER MAN follows his biggest feat yet. Having smashed world records swimming the Yangtze and the Mississippi among others, Martin surprises everyone (including his son who provides a perfect narration for the doc) by announcing that his next feat will be the mighty Amazon. With film crew in tow - and Nashville's James Claur DP'ing the Brazilian leg - BIG RIVER MAN enters its main section with a rotating helicopter shot over the rainforest with an aurual wall of feedback (score by N'ville native Rich Ragsdale), one immediately senses the impending Herzogian slow ride to crazyland.

Chronicling the months leading up to Vogue's voluminous September issue, this slick doc reveals the highest order of the world's fashion scene as it ko-tows to its apparent overlord, the "ice queen" pixie magazine chief Anna Wintour whose career beginnings in the swinging London of the 60s are still evident in her Anna Karina haircut and who has the world's top designers and models quivering in their oversized scarves. Having taken in three dude movies in a row, I'm confident enough in my masculinity to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hard to add too much to the statements of the last dispatch and I'm having trouble dredging up a pithy response. Me like movie. Soccer good game. Agent sleaze feed on naive hicks.

The word 'vaccuous' evidently escapes player-turned-gigilo Aston Kutcher by the girl who hustles as well as he. An apt word for the film in general. Set among the pretty people in L..A., SPREAD is every bit as vacant as its subjects.

Often times, walking into a film having read nothing about it can yield the more pleasant of surprises, especially following a load of crap like SPREAD. This one follows a divorcee and her teenage son from the West Bank to a new life with her sister's family in a small town south of Chicago just as the US invades Iraq. Of course one can guess what lay in store, but the film's celebratory ending signals a cinematic parallel worthy of its timely arrival on the cusp of a new era in America. Did that make sense?

It's a look at Lil Wayne's ever-mobile inner sanctum which consists primarily of ESPN, a laptop, a microphone and a whole lot of weed and cough syrup and soda cocktails (?), which really should translate into quality entertainment. Being fairly ambivalent about his style, I still was looking forward to it. Having done so, I can safely say that I've had more than enough Lil Wayne for now and I needn't think too much about this curious yet uninspiring documentary.

L.A. comic/musician Charlyne Yi decides to make a movie about love, an elusive idea for this quirky skeptic. Traveling through the country, she interviews primarily older couples who have been together for decades but somewhere along the way meets sweet and equally quirky Michael Cera who becomes a co-star in the film due to their budding relationship. This challenges Yi's detachment and throws a wrench in the director's plans. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say that the real Michael Cera is just like the fictional one and that the director must have seen ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO sometime around the end of filming.

The Ravens are down 13-0. Good.

Back soon...

--Toby Leonard

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