more sundance 2008 picks


. . . who doesn't want to see a documentary about Patti Smith? Patti Smith: Dream of Life is described beautifully, but i can't trust you to follow the link, so i'm posting most of the catalog description, below. i've underlined what is for me a key passage:

"'Life isn’t some vertical or horizontal line. You have your own internal world, and it’s not neat.' — Patti Smith

Not vertical nor horizontal nor neat, Dream of Life is a hypnotic plunge, a breathing collage of this legendary musician/poet/painter/activist’s philosophy and artistry that feels as if it sprang directly from her soul. A punk pioneer and spiritual child of Rimbaud, Blake, and Burroughs, Patti Smith’s fierce poetry and rock music shook up New York’s 1970s underground scene, and her work continues to be stirred organically by her rigorous mind, beloved artistic touchstones, and world events.

Shot over 11 years, Dream of Life travels Smith’s mystical interior terrain—the ideas, losses, and memories she wrestles with—as much as tracing her outward adventures. Layered with mesmerizing recitations, music, and narration, the fluid journey incorporates performances, graveyard pilgrimages and political rallies, archival nuggets, and vérité moments with her working-class parents, children, and friends. From raw, intimate sessions in her apartment to formidable incantations delivered to roaring crowds, Smith’s expression is unmediated by pretense or artifice. Remarkably—and this may be the key to her artistic potency—she doesn’t reject death or construct polarities of good and bad. Instead, she embraces darkness and melancholy in a way that’s liberating and also life affirming. As she manifests the transcendent in life, Dream of Life reaches for the ineffable in Patti Smith."

then there is Incendiary, "[b]ased on a novel released two days before the London bombings, Incendiary is a contemporary portrait of England that deftly interweaves tragedy, sex, politics, and the grief emanating from a suicide terrorist attack on a London soccer stadium." plus, Ewan MacGregor :)

also on the serious side is Nerakhoon (The Betrayal), which follows the Communist persecution in Laos through the lens of one family (and especially one man's) struggles.

i'm happy to see Amy Redford's film in the festival (we like Amy at our venue; she comes in often and is without pretension). her film, Guitar, is described as a "whimsical fairy tale [. . .], a thoroughly engaging, almost-mythological allegory that is fueled by the exceptional performance of Saffron Burrows and executed with style by its director."

probably heartbreaking is Recycle: "Inspired by his reporting on al Zarqawi and Al Qaeda for international news agencies, Jordanian/Palestinian filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad returns to Zarqa, where he grew up, to make Recycle. With ravishing cinematography that belies the unforgiving landscape, Massad charts the daily life of a religious Islamic man trying to survive in one of Zarqa’s poorest neighborhoods."



i think i am most excited (for pleasure's sake) about Pretty Bird: "Curtis Prentiss (Billy Crudup) is the archetypal American dreamer: the rainmaker. He arrives in town with big ideas, a fervent sales pitch, and a set of blueprints in hand. Curtis also has a wealthy old acquaintance who’s susceptible to his incantations. He finds, by chance, an out-of-work aerospace engineer (Paul Giamatti), whom he recruits with a vision of building "the rocket belt," a personalized flying machine. They embark on their mutual missions—to raise capital and solve the conundrum of flight—but their relationship quickly deteriorates. When unexpectedly they find success, everything really goes out of control, and a struggle begins that will change their lives." i mean, it does sound a bit formulaic, but some formulae work, and this sounds like fun. Plus, Paul Giamatti!!

Just Another Love Story sounds like something I've (regrettably) seen starring Sandra Bullock, but this World Cinema offering may just work.

Elvis Mitchell is now a filmmaker! (we like Elvis Mitchell; he's was in our theater to watch Hustle and Flow, and he even expressed what seemed like real interest in the film i was then working on, proposition 1984. he's really unpretentious and lovely).with Black List, he enters new territory as he "presents a fascinating series of miniportraits of 20 influential African Americans."

not showing at our venue (damn it!) but in the festival and i'm dying to see it (!) is Michel Gondry (aka "God") and his Be Kind Rewind. you've maybe already seen the trailers. Jack Black and Mos Def, working in a video store, accidentally erase all the tapes and decide to "recreate" the movies they've unwittingly deleted. this will be in theaters soon, so no biggie, but i'd LLLuuuuuvvv to meet Gondry. damn.




another not screening at our venue but i wish i could see is Absurdistan, "Veit Helmer’s inventive, allegorical comedy introduces us to Absurdistan, a once beautiful, now utterly desolate, land. In a water-starved village, two childhood sweethearts, Aya and Temelko, await the date (foretold by Aya’s grandmother) that a perfect celestial alignment will bless their first night of love. An intrepid inventor, Temelko plans to repair the aging water pipe, but the apathetic older men scoff at his designs. The women, fed up with the men’s inaction, take matters into their own hands and declare a strike. No water, no sex. The gender lines are drawn, reinforced with barbed wire, and our young lovers find themselves on opposite sides of a fast-escalating feud."


Comments

bdegenaro said…
i didn't know a patti smith doc was forthcoming. do let us know how it is! one of the greatest nights of my life: seeing patti smith serve as opening act for allen ginsberg at a poetry reading in Ann Arbor in 1995.
holy sh*t! really? that must have made your brain explode w/ fabulosity!

and hey: wouldn't it be extra cool if PS showed up at the screening? (we never know. sometimes, they just show up; sometimes, we get advance warning. we'll see).

i'll post a review, so look for that ;)

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