26 January 2006

Sundance: Day Six

Okay, it's back to Toronto-style drive-by one-liners.

  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Montiel, USA): 52

    Works reasonably well as straight-ahead memoir -- it's the present-day framing story, with its noxious air of commingled self-satisfaction (hey looka me!) and self-pity (survivor's guilt), that leaves a sour taste. Plus it's simply impossible to believe that Shia LaBoeuf could ever grow up to become Robert Downey, Jr. (whereas I had no trouble accepting Rosario Dawson as an adult Melonie Diaz). Q: Were tough Astoria street kids really listening to "Moments in Love" in 1986?

  • Subject Two (Philip Chidel, USA): 55

    Memorably creepy daylight-horror film (set in the Colorado mountains) bolstered by two pitch-perfect lead performances -- there's a certain kind of off-kilter acting style that would register as amateurish in a "normal" movie but somehow becomes incredibly gripping in the context of a tacky low-budget genre exercise. Gets a tad pretentious near the end, and I could have done without the twist ending, but well worth a look for fans of the psychotronic.

  • Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, USA): W/O

    Blech. Bilge warned me that the comedy here is entirely predicated on what I long ago dubbed The Fallacy of the Profane Granny, and boy was he not kidding. Reliable reports indicate there's some genuinely funny stuff about child beauty pageants in the third act, but you'll have to endure a vanload of curdled quirkiness to get to it. I wouldn't even have bothered, really, except that last year's big-ticket sale/mainstream-press darling(Hustle & Flow) turned out to be surprisingly tolerable (and featured two of my Voice poll votes for 2005's best performances). Still, lesson learned: I'm typing this during the press screening for The Night Listener.

  • Right at Your Door (Chris Gorak, USA): 49

    Starts off gripping, but turns pointless and mundane by almost imperceptible degrees, so that it's only at the very end that you realize you've been had. (And here's another lame twist ending.) It does suggest, however, that Rory Cochrane may have developed into an actor worth watching -- I wouldn't even have recognized him from Dazed and Confused, which so far as I know is the last time I saw him.

  • Wild Tigers I Have Known (Cam Archer, USA): W/O

    If Conor Oberst directed a movie. Shot and projected on video, so no reel changes, but I bailed about 37 minutes in, right after the sensitive boy protag wrote I JUST WANT TO BE LOVED... across his torso in bright red lipstick. Yes, that's so wrong.
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