Sundance 2009 Day 6: Not Every Film is Truly Wonderful
by Alex Billington
January 23, 2009
Last night I finally saw my 25th film of the festival, which means I've still got 6 to go until I hit my annual minimum of 31 (by Sunday). As much as I've talked previously about how much I love everything about Sundance, there are some negatives. No, they're not associated with the festival itself, but more with my own struggles. For example, after 7 days in, I'm exhausted. I can't wake up in the mornings anymore and end up missing screenings so that I can actually sleep and/or finish work. I get frustrated every time that happens, but I have to suck it up and deal with it. But there's also something else I want to mention.
Just the other day, after finishing an interview with Jess Weixler, I was walking through the Marriott headquarters in Park City and as I was walking up the stairs, I passed two recognizable faces. I stopped and introduced myself, as the people that I had recognized were E.J. Bonilla and Gleendilys Inoa, the two lead actors from Don't Let Me Drown, one of my few favorite films from this year's Sundance. I talked briefly with them about how much I loved their film and so on. It was just a delightful moment because they were so happy to be recognized and I was so happy to meet them and congratulate them.
Unfortunately, not everything here is always smiles and congratulations. There are some films that I really didn't like (see the list below) and, while I didn't review all of them, I have said plenty of negative things about them. One of them in particular is Peter and Vandy. Although I didn't hate it, I just didn't like it much at all. As I mentioned earlier, I interviewed Jess Weixler, one of the stars of the film. As I was finishing up that interview, I ran into actor Jason Ritter and director Jay DiPietro, who were sitting nearby. I can't even begin to tell you how heart-wrenching it is to smile and talk with a director, when I just have that feeling that he knows I really didn't like his movie. I really want to say good things, but I can't!
I really do love talking with filmmakers and actors who I meet at Sundance when I liked their respective film, because there is so much to talk about. It brings me such joy to be able to tell them that I loved their film. Who wouldn't want to speak with someone they admire? But it's so draining to talk to a filmmaker about their film at all when they know you didn't like it. We're obviously not going to talk about the reasons why I didn't particularly like it, so it's hard to dodge that topic. I wish I could love everything, but realistically, there are plenty of films that I don't like. And I've got to stick with my true feelings.
Not every film I see at festivals (even Sundance) is as wonderful as 500 Days of Summer. And I guess I just wanted to get this whole experience off my chest. I want everyone to know that I do encounter heart-wrenching situations and find myself struggling to stay true to my feelings. This doesn't happen often, thankfully, and the few times that it does I'm able to get through it quickly. If I could express my appreciation and gratitude towards every last director and actor and writer and producer out here, I would. But I've got to stay true to my honest opinion and unfortunately there are always some duds.
Sundance 2009 Review List:
THURSDAY (JAN 15th):
Mary and Max - 8/10
MONDAY (JAN 19th):
Don't Let Me Drown - 9/10
Peter and Vandy - 6.5/10
WEDNESDAY (JAN 21st):
Paper Heart - 7.5/10
Shrink - 6/10
Motherhood - 4/10
THURSDAY (JAN 22nd):
World's Greatest Dad - 8/10
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - 2/10
An Education - 8.5/10
Reader Feedback - 7 Comments
yay for feelings!!!!!!! jk jk. I feel you homie g
yayyayayayay on Jan 23, 2009
shit happens my friend!
????? on Jan 23, 2009
"For example, after 7 days in, I'm exhausted. I can't wake up in the mornings anymore and end up missing screenings so that I can actually sleep and/or finish work. I get frustrated every time that happens, but I have to suck it up and deal with it. " I realize that it must be tiring on some level to be at Sundance but, COME ON!!!!! You are at Sundance so shut up and stop complaining. There are many of us who would kill to be in your spot so how about not undermining other peoples inability to participate in a monuments movie event an do your job, which is to report not wine. You should be so lucky to have your own business. There are people, myself included, who work 7 days a week and never move up from the "cog in the system" status for their whole lives. I come to this site to escape not to hear some kid complain about how he is his own boss and he has to get up to go see movies everyday. Get to work!
anton on Jan 23, 2009
Are we going to get a review on Brief Interviews with Hideous Men? I'm not too happy to see its not getting a good? Other than that all my other expectations were met and in some cases exceeded!
Mitch on Jan 23, 2009
I just got back from Park City and of the ones I've seen, your reviews are pretty close to what I thought except I would rate Brief Interviews more like 5/10 and if Black Dynamite is an 8 then Adventureland should be a 7 imo. Black Dynamite was hilarious and except for the last 10 minutes when it went totally off the reservation, it would be a perfect film. Arlen Faber was very good too. I'm disappointed Bronson wasn't rated higher, I haven't seen it yet but the trailer looks great.
Larry on Jan 23, 2009
Hope you can have a full review up fro MOTHERHOOD soon. I love Thurman and Driver so curious on why you thought it was bad (not that I don't believe you).
Ryan on Jan 23, 2009
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