When you enter a film festival screening, you are, in a sense, risking your life. Two hours of your life, that is. This is, after all, what’s on the line based on nothing more than a log line, a few tidbits you may have heard about the film, or just plain ol’ buzz. You really don’t know what you’re in for, and that’s part of the thrill of being among the first to witness a film, especially in the excitement of a festival setting. Watching it blind, before a poster, a trailer, or a Bake Snaker review can alter your perception of a film. Sometimes you win and you get a Hard Candy or a Meshee. Other times you lose. Such was the case with my first Sundance ’07 film…
By now, chances are you’ve heard about all the geeking out over The Signal. Many sites have raved about it. Many have reported about it being picked up by Magnolia for 2.3 million. All i can ask is, who the hell ARE these people that are enjoying this film??!! The way they are carrying on about this leads me to believe that they all have either never seen a movie of this type before or have had their minds altered like the characters in the film.
Now, i don’t want to be too hard. The film starts off good…actually – scratch that — the film starts off terrible. But after the first scene’s dreadful student-film-acting segues into the first of three segments…things begin to pick up. The tone is set for a very cool, creepy and somewhat original thriller.
The Signal is divided into three parts, each of which helmed by a different director. It is when we arrive in the second act that things fall apart. And it’s just more and more mind-boggingly bad from there. The acting..the tone of the film….the dialogue ….all of which were skillfully handled in act one fall more and more apart until a ridiculously unsatisfying ending that makes this not only a terribly tedious experience, but the kind of film that can turn you off to ever taking a chance on a festival screening again. It’s not worth the risk. Fuck you, Signal!
The next day was much more enjoyable…
Much hubalaloo has been made over the infamous scene in Hounddog. All i can say is that whoever these people are who are making such a fuss have clearly not seen the film. Why is it that whenever these people have a problem they complain before actually seeing what they’re complaining about? The controversial scene is handled very tastefully and is the least disturbing thing about this film. I actually feel bad for Dakota. She was brave enough to take on a role that actors twice her age might shy away from. She is great in the film. And instead of the praise she is worthy of all she gets is the media telling her she is letting herself be exploited. Whatever. The only problem i have is the film is way too bland. It shares a few themes with Black Snake Moan, but lacks that film’s likable characters and off-beat charm. It’s not that Hounddog is a bad film. It’s just a bit of a meandering bland one. The only thing that should be protested is the raping of director Deborah Kampmeier’s creativity.
Black Snake Moan is great. But for reasons you least expect. The film is not what the trailer makes it out to be. Well, sure, some of it is. But honestly, there’s more going on here. And that seems to be a problem for many folks. I think this is going to be another case of people going in expecting one thing and, when it turns out to be another, they will instantly not like this. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s not what they thought. Me, well, i loved that it was not all that i expected. That is was and it wasn’t. And Sam is as great as always. He is given some amazing lines in this. And The Ricci has never been hotter since Mermaids. I wonder what you’ll think?…
It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. Again, how is it possible to “review” something like this. To say anything about it would spoil the experience of sitting there with your mouth wide open for 80 minutes. You really never get used to what you’re looking at. You walk out thinking back to what you’ve just seen, asking your mind if it has the images it has in it. Asking it to explain them to you. And it can’t. Still, this is not as mind-altering as the first installment of the IT trilogy. This second chapter is much more of a traditional narrative and less experimental as its predecessor. Yet it is every bit as much of an oddity. Crispin plans on touring the country with it as he did with What Is it? …and while seeing the first is not a necessity, i truly hope he shows both so that those of you out there that have not experienced it can get a taste of both, as they both offer their own distinct kinds of fuckedupness. I wish i could watch all of you watching these.
During the Q&A, i asked The Glover about when we could expect the final installment, It Is Mine. All he gave me was, “That is subject matter i want to take a break from at the moment,” before quickly moving on to the next question. So, it looks like we’ll have some time before we all get to find out where IT is all going.
So there ya go. i managed to get into 4 out of the 5 i was going for. I wish i had time for more.
I got to the wait list line for The Ten, David Wain’s follow-up to Wet Hot American Summer, an hour and a half early and was number 25. Less than five got in. So we’ll all have to wait until ThinkFilm, who picked it up for 4.5 mil, releases it later this year.
Here are all the other films i wish i could have seen but there was no chance due to the overlappingness of the films.
We have to look out for these in the coming year…
Chasing Ghosts (i really wish i could have seen this 80’s arcade doc. hopefully it will surface soon.)
We Are The Strange (burton-esque multiple animation techniques produced in guys’s basement – seemed very cool.)
Angel-A (possibly the last luc besson film ever, or so he says…)
King of California (michael douglas in crazy-mode searches for treasure under a costco.)
Teeth (killer vagina horror film… played straight?)
Son of Rambow (from the guys who did hitchhikers about kids in 80’s influenced by 80’s films)
Joshua (kid goes nuts out of jealousy of newborn sibling.)
Rocket Science (one of this years winners. compared to napoleon dynamite.)
Fido (alternate realty where zombies are part of everyday society.)
Bugmaster (asian anime/live-action hybrid i think. i just liked the title.)
Dedication (justin theroux directs about kids book inspired by porno with billy crudup & newly-plump mandy moore.)
Slipstream (supposed to be fucked up and surreal. directed by anthony hopkins.)
The Nines (directorial debut of screenwriter john august.)
Trade (kevin kiline in film about internet sex trading)
Eagle Vs. Shark (new zealand quirky comedy.)
Zoo (doc about the, err, love of horses. said to be tastefully done. which is why i didn’t rush to this.)
While Berg did not see Zoo, he did have a chance to schmooze with one of its stars.