Monday, February 2, 2009

Sundance Summary, part 2

By Saturday morning, I was wondering where the celebrities were at Sundance. It had been a much lower wattage festival compared to the previous year, and we had heard of sponsors canceling or scaling back.

My husband and I saw three movies on Saturday, starting with Brooklyn's Finest, which I'll tell you right out was not the finest movie I saw at the festival. What a big disappointment. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua who directed the excellent Training Day, and the not so excellent King Arthur. Brooklyn's Finest has three different barely intersecting stories of three cops: Richard Gere is a suicidal beat cop about to retire, Ethan Hawke is a cop desperate to move out of his mold ridden house to save his sick pregnant wife, and Don Cheadle plays an undercover cop conflicted about his gangster friend played by Wesley Snipes. The script was written by a first time screenwriter, who entered a screenwriting contest to win a car. He didn't win, but somehow came to the attention of Fuqua. The film was shot right in the projects in Brooklyn, and evidently was the first film to do so.

I had lots of problems with this film. It is relentlessly dark, and I remember laughing at least a few times during Training Day. I didn't like Ethan Hawke's character, and thought he was stupid. His choices didn't make sense once his friend found out what he was planning to do. We're supposed to suspend disbelief and accept that Richard Gere's character can only get a Latina prostitute to have sex with him, even though he looks like Richard Gere with no paunch. (For the record, I respect Richard Gere for trying to stretch a bit beyond Nights at Rodanthe, but it was a stretch.) Don Cheadle's character I liked the most, and he and Ellen Barkin had a few explosive scenes. The ending of the movie was just awful, and I was left very disappointed.

Only Antoine Fuqua and the screenwriter attended our screening as it was in the morning. They got complaints from the audience over the violence and dark portrayal of the police, but they just replied that that would be a different film, and not the one they made. We heard that the film was picked up but, as a "work in progress." The first thing they can do is change the ending.

After walking around Main Street for a bit, we saw the awesome documentary It Might Get Loud, directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). Before the screening, we heard rumblings from the back of the theater. Jack White of The White Stripes had come to the screening! Davis Guggenheim was greeted as somewhat of a rock star director himself.

Davis Guggenheim introduced the film saying that it is a documentary about the electric guitar with three of the best artists of the electric guitar: Jimmy Page, The Edge of U2 and Jack White. Why these three? "Jimmy Hendrix wasn't available." Instead of the usual rock documentary about the rise of the band and the descent into drugs and so on, this film takes a different approach. He brought all three guitarists together in Nashville where they jammed and talked together for two days. He also interviewed each separately and they described how they got their first guitar, their start in music and how they write songs. It was fascinating, totally fun, and one of the best films we saw at the festival.

Jack White was convinced to come up for the Q&A, but unfortunately, he didn't bring his guitar. The film was just awesome, and I really learned a lot. I did not know Jimmy Page's history as a studio musician, and how he just couldn't take playing Muzak one more day! It Might Get Loud will be out in theaters probably in August of this year. Watch for it as it's not to be missed!

The last film we saw on Saturday, was Taking Chance starring Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon came for the Q&A at our screening, and I was able to tell the director Ross Katz how glad I was that I saw his excellent film. I didn't want to see another movie about Iraq, but I'm so glad I saw this one. Read my review here.

You can see all my pictures from Sundance 2009 here on Flickr.

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