25 January 2006

Sundance: Day Five

A paltry two-film day, due to extra-festival deadlines plus my lack of interest in virtually everything that was press-screened. Tried to rush a public screening of Wild Tigers I Have Known, missed getting in by one (1) seat.

  • Puccini for Beginners (Maria Maggenti, USA): 34

    I was about to compare this to a typical episode of "Sex and the City," but I saw a handful of those and they weren't anywhere near this dopey and contrived. Never mind the central ludicrousness of our heroine falling into bed unawares with both halves of a newly split hetero couple (neither of whom apparently ever even once in passing mentions the name of his/her most recent ex) -- has any movie in cinema history hinged on so many chance meetings? In Manhattan, no less, where for example I've run into my ex-girlfriend Regina exactly once in the past five years or so? Sorry, but having a passing extra mutter "Freud claimed there's no such thing as coincidence" ain't gonna cut it. Might be ignorable if the movie were funny, but at best it's sitcom cute. And here's Justin Kirk as the romantic male lead again, and lovers pulling the sheets up to their necks immediately following sex. Ugh.

  • Quinceañera (Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, USA): 60

    Again, familiar territory, but it benefits from being set in a little-seen milieu: the Hispanic community of L.A.'s Echo Park. And while Glatzer & Westmoreland's The Fluffer felt clumsy and stilted, here they seem in total command of their material, coaxing fine, naturalistic performances from an inexperienced cast and letting the drama accrue from a series of unforced observations. Puzzling emphasis on the elderly uncle in the final reel retroactively explained by closing dedication.
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