22 January 2006

Sundance: Day Three

  • Sherrybaby (Laurie Collyer, USA): 55

    Familiar territory, especially coming so soon after Assayas' Clean -- this Maggie gets naked more frequently, has a slightly cuter moppet to fight for, and needs to regain the trust of a brother rather than a father-in-law. Performances are terrific across the board, though, and the film works reasonably well scene by scene; even the obligatory why-she's-so-fucked-up explanation, while disappointingly pat, is handled with more finesse than we're accustomed to in movies like this. I don't ever need to hear Ms. Gyllenhaal sing again, however. "Honesty" and "Eternal Flame" are sufficient for one career.

  • Stay. (Bobcat Goldthwait, USA): 69

    Simply astonishing. I am in awe. So much so, in fact, that I'm now sorely tempted to investigate Shakes the Clown, lest that, too, turn out to be a misunderstood quasi-masterpiece. Any filmmaker eager to offend middlebrow sensibilities could have made a movie about the repercussions that ensue when a nice young woman (Melinda Page Hamilton, in a miraculously naturalistic performance) confesses to having once blown her dog. But it takes a fantastically demented mind and crazy fucking courage (plus arguably an artistic death wish) to conceive of such a ludicrous, revolting scenario and then pitch it as Goldthwait does here -- not (primarily) as sick black comedy, but as a serious, often downright earnest treatise on the potential pitfalls of exposing every crevice of your past and soul to those you love. Yes, there are gags, but a disquieting sweetness and sincerity lurk beneath the admittedly juvenile surface. If only Bobcat-the-director had the chops to really pull it off. Wobbly tone and ass-ugly videography notwithstanding, though, I don't expect to see a more incisive film about long-term romantic relationships this year. Seriously.

  • Steel City (Brian Jun, USA): 49

    I don't have anything to say about this one. It's fine. I just never connected with it. No particular flaws that I can point to, but nothing remotely inspired, either. I will have no memory of Steel City a year from now, guaranteed.

  • The Aura (Fabián Bielinsky, Argentina): 40

    No way in hell is this one getting a doggedly faithful American remake -- Hollywood could keep a passel of script doctors hopping for months just injecting some personality into the tediously recessive protagonist (an epileptic taxidermist? talk about desperately grasping for metaphor) and whittling down the obscenely bloated 134-minute running time. And if you're going to retain one of the leads from Nine Queens, for god's sake make it Gastón Pauls, not Ricardo Darín.
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