Upstream Color garnered a stronger reaction, albeit one comprising frustrated minds endeavouring to piece together a deceptively opaque narrative. Shane Carruth spent eight years in the wilderness – allegedly trying and failing to get funding for sci-fi pet project A Topiary – and has returned with what, at first glance, appears to be the antithesis to 2004’s Primer. Whereas that film chugged at a pace at once procedural, detached and clinical in presentation, Upstream Color is instead steeped in an emotional pathos, radiated in gleaming digital.
Many viewers would be hard-pressed to articulate what exactly the film’s about. At its most fundamental level, it observes the connection between two individuals – Carruth’s Jeff and Amy Seimetz’ Kris – whose equivalent histories give rise to a kindred spirituality, not only with each other but with a life form existing at a physical and biological distance…. (click to read the full article)
Midway through the second episode of Sundance’s new drama Rectify, Daniel Holden sits down in the outfield of a local baseball field. He takes a drink from a bottle of water, and lies back on the worn grass in shallow center field, looking up at the sun. Living on death row for 19 years will make a man enjoy the simple things, be it the heat of the sun or the taste of the air. But there’s more to the moment than Daniel rediscovering the beauty of nature; the scene is symbolic of where he is in his life, a poignant visual metaphor that establishes what Rectify - a terrific, contemplative show from character actor and Oscar winner Ray McKinnon – is all about.
We all understand the basics of baseball: three bases and a plate, people throw balls and swing bats. In the philosophical sense, home plate is exactly what it sounds like; home. The journey of baseball is the journey of life: we start at home, and circle the bases, touching the common points in life at the “bases” along the way. Only is our journey complete when we return home, having discovered ourselves in moments of truth (deciding when to take chances or run, or play it safe) along the way.
Directed by Michael Polish
Written by Michael Polish
A melancholic exploration of Jack Kerouac’s mind during his trips to poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s remote cabin on the pacific coast, Big Sur quietly captivates with a moody mix of striking scenery and rapid-fire narration. Kerouac used his prose to break away from the repressive stranglehold of mid-20th century American values and became one of the freewheeling heroes of the Beat Generation. Finding tremendous acclaim as a rebellious writer, celebrity was surprisingly something he didn’t desire and struggled desperately to escape. The pensive focus of this film is the serious depression and consequential alcoholism of a genius bent on self-destruction. Big Sur takes takes a hard look at Kerouac’s deterioration following the wild success of the novel “On the Road” and is almost entirely composed of his anxiety-ridden introspection. This brooding, despair laden story might prove to be too much for some viewers but hits just the right notes for Kerouac devotees and filmgoers appreciative of a realistically composed account of mental illness.
Directed by Chan-wook Park
Written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson
South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s first cinematic foray with the English language is a gratifyingly morbid journey, albeit frustratingly simple in its conclusion. The man behind “The Vengeance Trilogy” (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) doesn’t deliver the level of graphic gore or sadism one might anticipate from him. Chan-wook instead successfully presents us with a meticulously detailed and scintillatingly gothic atmosphere rife with bloodthirsty possibilities. Cinephiles looking for the daringness of the master’s earlier works will likely be disappointed that this provocative project about a morose young woman disturbingly coming of age ends up leaving much to the imagination.
Right before turning 18, intense India (Mia Wasikowska of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) loses her beloved father to a mysterious accident. Enter Uncle Charlie, her father’s long lost brother. Her mother Evie (Nicole Kidman) gives him an eerily enthusiastic welcome in the midst of bereavement and pays little to no attention to her grieving child. Charlie’s mannered and assertive presence beguiles Evie and intrigues India. Although absent for the entirety of India’s life, he immediately charms his way into living in the family house. Actor Matthew Goode (Watchmen, Brideshead Revisited) is darkly enigmatic as Uncle Charlie- drawing the audience, India and Evie in with his sphinx like stare. The unpredictable Goode holds his own next to Kidman, whose multi-faceted performance is best when her character feels slighted. This film isn’t concerned with us liking or sympathizing with any of the leads but directs us to deciphering what their individual motivations are for behaving badly.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Written by Ryan Coogler
Dramatizing the last hours of 22 year old Oscar Grant before he was slain by a police officer in 2009, first time writer/director Ryan Coogler delivers a stirring and sympathetic tribute to his life. Actual cell phone footage of the killing in an Oakland, California rail station named Fruitvale was posted by witnesses to YouTube and is utilized at the beginning of the film to drive home the grim reality of this senseless death. With these harrowing images in mind, the movie rewinds back to the start of his final day. The coming catastrophe looms over every step we see Oscar take, amplifying the meaning behind the smallest of meetings and glances. Illuminating the worth of an unemployed ex-convict who also happened to be a loving father and son, Fruitvale is a moving and important reevaluation of someone usually written off by society.
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ery Good Girls
Following best friends in their formative summer before leaving for college,Very Good Girls premiered to a warm reception. This coming of age film gently but realistically handles how a mutual crush decimates the closeness between two girls. Elizabeth Olsen already feels too old to be playing just out of high school but Dakota Fanning carries delicate youth off quite well. Richard Dreyfuss and Demi Moore have parts that amount to little more than cameos as the parents of Olsen’s character. Sundance favorite Olsen could not attend the first showing of the film at the Eccles theater due to a conflict with school. Fanning appeared and discussed the decision not to show the movie’s teenagers overly engaging with their cellphones. She cited the reasoning that although young people are constantly in touch through technology, focusing on the intimacy of conversation would add more depth to the reciprocity on-screen. Director Naomi Foner (mother of actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal) said in telling a story she wants to first “…create characters, then write around the characters.” This tale is not just about the sexual awakening of young womanhood but about tearing down boundaries, changing and taking chances.