Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sundance: Day 1

Sundance 2011 kicked off in the worst possible way - with one of the most skin-crawlingly bad movies I've ever seen. "I Melt With You" stars Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane and Jeremy Piven as three of four best friends that reunite every year to relive the glory days of college. It turns into a week of complete debauchery - drugs, sex, etc - as they escape the inert disappointment of their normal everyday lives. On this particular trip, it comes out that 25 years ago they had made a blood vow that if they ever lost the plot on what life was really about, they would all commit suicide. So, one by one, each one offs himself as a means to escape the ruin their lives had become. A promising cast, a perfect soundtrack of 80s post-punk classics, and a potentially relatable premise of middle-age ennui doesn't do a bit of good from stopping me to, literally (and I can't stress that enough), hate every single second of it. It's over-long. It's over-acted. It's over-dramatic. It's ugly and vile and loud. I don't remember the last time I had this sickening a reaction to a film. You know it's bad when the only person affiliated with the film who's available for the Q&A afterwards is a girl who was the 6th lead. Score: 0

To make matters worse, we attended this film with our good friends, Joe and Leslie Tippetts. Now, we didn't drag them to this or talk them into it, but listening to obscene sex convos with your good church friends sitting in the next seats makes the whole thing even more painful. It nearly soured me on even being here and I began to wonder if the positive energy of the past was lost, like the innocence of the men in the movie we'd just seen. Luckily, everything went back to normal soon.

From there we went to a documentary about 9/11 called "Rebirth". Not exactly an original premise, and certainly a well that's been drawn from aplenty, "Rebirth" stands out because it follows the lives of five people who were deeply affected in some way by the events (either a loved one died or they were severely injured) from 2002 thru 2009. You get to watch the way these people cope/grieve/progress with what remains of their lives. They all go through huge ups and downs and each has a process that's unique to them - some find a sense of humour and some barely clear a path for forgiveness. Everyone started over on 9/12 and these five describe a moving travelogue that will probably have you in tears from start to finish. Score: 9

Lastly, the prevailing mood of the day switched, gratefully, to something light and funny with the documentary "Shut Up, Little Man". Two guys from the Midwest move to San Francisco after college and live next door to a couple of old, insane alcoholics, Pete a homosexual and Ray a redneck homophobe, that engage in hilarious screaming matches when the liquor takes over, which is pretty much every night. The two young guys, Eddie and Mitchell, begin taping these outbursts and giving copies to their friends, which kicks off an old-school underground viral sensation of bootlegging among fans of something called Audio-Veritae, which is, basically, found sounds. I've never heard of these guys or was aware of the many comic books, plays, songs, websites, or cds that Pete and Ray inspired. Neither did they, as a matter of fact. So, the movie goes from telling their story, to the legalities, rights, artistry, and legitimacy of using other people's normal lives as art.

The movie is a lot of fun and brings on the nostalgia of a much more innocent time. What's mildly frustrating is how little is truly known about Pete and Ray. They're both dead with no living relatives and both basically drank their lives away. A better understanding of them and more from the fans and people who were influenced by them would have rounded out the picture. Still, it's fun and worth a watch, so long as you find old drunks calling each other co******er over and over funny. Score: 7
We debated whether to try and get into a 4th film, but we hadn't eaten all day, or slept much last night, so we decided to end it today and go big tomorrow.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I'm so glad you posted again, Jon, but what a sad, sorry first day at Sundance. Hope the rest of it was better and that there were a few redeeming flicks. You are such a great reviewer/writer! I've missed reading your work - keep it coming.
Love you, Mom