Hello all! I’m going to get right to the point today, because it’s late, and we’ve reached the half-point of our Sundance journey together, and I’m getting afraid of boring you. Alright? Alright.
Ellar Coltrane in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood
Director & Screenwriter: Richard Linklater Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
At the end of Richard Linklater’s latest, Boyhood, a minor character muses that it’s not about seizing the moment, it’s that “the moment seizes us.” That’s an apt description of Boyhood itself: A collection of moments that seize and illuminate, terrify and transform…all from one boy’s life. Statistically, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is like a lot of American kids: divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette), one sibling (Lorelei Linklater, Richard’s daughter), middle-class of varying degrees, fakes being sick to get out of school. This surface average-ness makes Boyhood so special: With enough attention and empathy, the commonplace is always compelling. Shot over 12 years (three to four days each year), Boyhood annuallydrops us into a pivotal time in Mason’s life. The soundtrack serves as time markers (opening with Coldplay’s “Yellow” of 2000/2001), and so do the actors’ appearances. Watching Coltrane grow up on screen creates a more intense character connection than shorter-term productions can achieve with makeup and multiple actors. That added sense of authenticity makes this film magical. Boyhood is at once intimate and epic. And, ultimately, truthful. See it as soon as you can.
Day four began with the holy grail for our 2014 Sundance experience: Actual tickets. You see, our first-timer press passes get us into all Press & Industry screenings…after the veteran outlets go in. Sometimes there aren’t enough spaces left in the screenings we want to see, so we have to stay flexible…and shamelessly ask for stuff. Sarah’s ticket to Young Ones came through the Sundance press office (they allot press tickets to combined press and public screenings at bigger theaters). Her ticket to Land Ho came from the film’s publicist. One of the co-directors happens to be excited about food blogs; that interview is coming tomorrow. And Ali and Sarah’s tickets to I Origins came through a friend-of-a-friend who works at Sundance and knew about a private screening. (Thanks, Jared!) We’re already dreaming about next year, when we’ll hopefully graduate to Big Girl press passes. But for now, we’re having fun rising to the challenge of getting into as many films as possible, given our limitations. It’s a game, and we totally won today. Like the Broncos. Which I am only mentioning because my twin sis is a fan.
Kristen Stewart in Peter Sattler's Camp X-Ray. Photo by Beth Dubber.
Hey everyone! Ali here, with an update on Day 2 of our adventure at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
We began the day with a plan to see 3-4 films, and ended up seeing a grand total of…1 film. The festival has been trying out a new mobile wait list plan this year, and we literally had our thumbs ready to push the buttons the second those wait lists opened for each film. But apparently hundreds of other people had the same idea, which is great for the festival, but didn’t end up making for a full day of movie-going.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in Damien Chazelle's Whiplash
Gimme Some Blogs made it to Park City, Utah!
Ali and I picked up our Sundance Film Festival 2014 press credentials; puzzled out the shuttle system; met the producer of one of the buzziest titles of the year (Effie Brown with Dear White People) and found out she’s invited to be a juror at our own KC Film Fest this spring on said shuttle; strolled Main Street; noted locations for free tea/WiFi/veggie burgers/etc; ate some fantastic Mexican food; tried to get into the wait-list line to see the public premiere of Whiplash but were too late (but we did see Miles Teller make his big entrance to the theatre); and then figured out how the press & industry screenings go down. Oh, yeah, and we saw two films.
Let me say right up front that I liked Her. I really, really did. Please remember this when you get to the crabby part of this review ahead and either get huffy with me or consider skipping seeing it altogether. Promise you’ll remember I like it, OK? OK.
Her is high-concept in the service of actual concepts, and I mean that as a huge compliment. While the robot-girlfriend idea has shown up in pop culture since whenever the idea of robots came about, Her prods, twists and pulls the trope in fresh ways. It uses the set up to explore questions about relationships in the future-modern world: How do we connect? Can love survive change? What defines intimacy? What makes a relationship real?
I walked out of The Wolf of Wall Streetwith a bad case of brain whiplash. Based on an autobiography by penny stockbroker Jordan Belfort, Wolf is expertly directed by Martin Scorsese (you know: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, The Departed, etc., etc.). As I tried to find a way to describe my post-film feelings, the best I settled on is this: Deeply disconcerted. Here’s why:
The amount of talent behind this film is astounding. I’m a Scorsese fan, and he didn’t disappoint. Every frame is interesting (even if there were a little too many of ‘em at 2 hours and 59 minutes). His use of sound and music is sharp as always. His style is assured and unrelenting; you may disagree with some of his choices, but you never doubt that he made them with thought and considerable force.
Let me be frank: I am very serious about daydreaming. I daydream to figure out how to solve problems, to rehearse how to get through difficult situations, to motivate myself to work hard, to give myself hope. I also daydream to escape reality when it gets too painful or boring. I spend a large chunk of my mental life daydreaming, and another hefty portion analyzing my own imaginings, trying to puzzle out when my daydreams help me and when they hold me back. So when I saw the first trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty—a re-imagining of the famous 1939 James Thurber short story produced, directed and led by Ben Stiller—I had high hopes for a film that explored both the power and pitfalls of daydreaming. I was disappointed.
First, though, let’s talk about the good stuff. The movie has some really beautiful cinematography, especially as Walter’s real life adventures take him to exotic expanses in Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan. It has some very nice comedic moments, my favorite being an awkward conversation between Walter and a drunk-and-getting-drunker helicopter pilot (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). The way text was integrated into the film’s environment (both opening credits and, later, the—fictional—Life motto) was playful and creative. The soundtrack was a standout. Its PG rating makes it a safe choice for an all-family holiday movie outing. Sean Penn is in it. And the film had the beginnings of a compelling visual motif—leaping and falling—that could have been even more thrilling if it had been developed further and backed up thematically.