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Brandon's Sundance Experience: Time Keeps on Slippin'

Sundance

Previously, on Brandon's Sundance Experience, I had not yet seen a single film at the fest. Now I've seen 22. And over the course of six days, I've slept maybe ten hours. Here in Park City, you see, sleep is a mirage. A myth. The stuff of legend. At this very moment, I'm forgoing sleep in order to write this. So, if you happen to find me face-down in a grey slush puddle somewhere in Park City, please do not wake me. I need the rest.

So what have I learned thus far at Sundance? Planning is necessary, but only two days in advance. Flexibility and patience are prerequisites for attending the fest. The volunteers are incredibly helpful. And

Brandon's Sundance 2010 Review: Adam Green's Frozen

Frozen Review

In the same vein as thrillers like Open Water and another film here, Buried, Adam Green's Frozen is--for the most part--a one-location horror-thriller. Here's the jist: three annoying, unlikeable college kids (Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell) get trapped on a ski lift without the hope of rescue ’cause they were stupid enough to bribe their way onto the slopes after closing time on a Sunday when they know full well that the resort doesn't reopen until the following Friday. From there, shit happens. It usually involves the cold and its effects on unprotected skin. Sometimes it involves wolves. And one time it involves urine.

Brandon's Sundance 2010 Reviews: Documentary Edition Pt 1

The Shock Doctrine

When I attend a film festival, I often gravitate towards the documentaries being screened rather than the narrative features. Of course, I see tons of narratives, but I do my best to keep a high ratio of docs on my schedule for the very reason that I already see tons of narrative stories during the year anyway. It's very rare for any documentary to see a wide release. There aren't a whole lot of Michael Moores or Al Gores out there. For some really spectacular docs, they never even get a limited release. At film festivals, though, there are always a good amount of docs to choose from. This is especially true for the Sundance Film Festival.

Brandon's Sundance Review: John Wells' The Company Men

The Company Men Review

Television staple John Wells makes his feature writing and directorial debut with his timely, socially harrowing drama The Company Men. Starring Ben Affleck as Bobby Walker, Tommy Lee Jones as Gene McClary, and Chris Cooper as Phil Woodward, the film is centered around these three men as they attempt to survive after a devastating round of corporate downsizing. We see just how losing their jobs affects their families, their psyche, and the community at large. It's as terrifying a film as I've seen. Well's nearly pitch-perfect screenplay captures the utter bleakness of our current economic recession and how it's effecting the

Brandon's Sundance 2010 Review: Vincenzo Natali's Splice

Vincenzo Natali's Splice

When Vincenzo Natali introduced Splice -- his latest film after Nothing, Cyper, and his cult-smash Cube -- tonight at its world premiere, he simply said that this "film has no moral boundaries." Instead, it's probably more accurate to say that Splice has reset the moral boundary. This creature-feature is both an homage to and a worthy entry in the monster flick catalog. It's horrifying, mesmerizing, and always spine-tingling. There are images in Splice that will haunt my dreams. Some of them for very different reasons than you might expect. And that's the most entertaining piece of Splice; it's just so unexpectedly unimaginable.

Brandon's Sundance Film Festival Experience: Where to Begin

Sundance

This year's Sundance Film Festival, held in the picturesque town of Park City, Utah, also happens to be my first trip to one of the landmark celebrations of independent cinema. The mere prospect of such an experience and the potential being projected on the myriad screens around the city is enough to cause any cinephile to lapse into a diabetic coma. That is to say, it's pretty cussin' sweet. Some romanticize the fest -- something that, even after two days, appears all too easy to do -- while others do their best not to lap up the sweet nectar too quickly. These folks are measured and resolute. Warriors set about a battlefield centered

Brandon's Word: The Book of Eli is Stylish, But Also Slight

The Book of Eli

There's a line of dialogue in The Book of Eli that encapsulates the entire film's thesis: "I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I'd learned from it." In this quote is the whole of the film. Its themes, its commentary, its action, its characters. By no means is this intended to be a slight. In fact, I commend screenwriter Gary Whitta for being able to distill his film into so clear an elixir. And if there's one word that's most able to describe The Book of Eli, I'd say that word is clear. The action is clear. The story is clear. The characters are (too) clear. And, yet, it's not.

 Posted January 15 in Opinions, Review | Comments

Update: Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever a Reboot Can

Spider-Man

Last night, a pumpkin bomb of massive proportions was dropped on us all. Sony officially announced that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise was no more. This spawned a huge debate between fans and non-fans alike both on our own comment board and, most especially, on Twitter. I was even compelled to share -- and defend -- my own jubilance as a fan of comics more than the movies. (Check out my thoughts in comment #71 of the above article.) But when the night was all said and done, the only thing that we could all agree on was that there weren't a whole lot of things we could all agree on. Read on for more new reboot updates!

Brandon's Word: Youth in Revolt is Hilariously Infatuating

Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera can do no wrong. It's been said that he plays the same character in every movie. It's been said that that character is just him, that he's playing a slightly more or less heightened version of himself every time he's projected on the big screen. Well, to be honest, I don't care. He does it well. He makes me laugh. And he's the OG of hopeless, awkward, geeky romantics. And that sentiment doesn't change throughout Youth in Revolt. Though, it does evolve.

Based on the novel by C.D. Payne and adapted by Gustin Nash, writer of Charlie Bartlett, Youth in Revolt

 Posted January 7 in Opinions, Review | Comments

Brandon's Word: Daybreakers Bites Hard in the Best of Ways

Daybreakers

Vampires are still hot. Metaphorically, at least. And they don't seem to be just a hold over from the last couple of years; Vampires are still very much a part of the contemporary zeitgeist. Just in the past three years, the Vampire has seen countless iterations. We've seen oversexed, Bayou-Vamps, sparkly, celibate Vamps, Vampire children, religious, Korean Vamps, and, of course, John C. Reilly. And that's just a taste. And in steps Daybreakers, the latest entry in the Vampire sub-genre, tries to take us all back to the past lore by bringing us to the future. And Daybreakers bites hard in the best way.

 Posted January 7 in Opinions, Review | Comments

What's in Store for the '10s? The '90s, Bloat & a Renaissance

District 9

The aughts are coming to a close. And what better time than now to look forward, over the crest of 2010, into the next decade? What will the '10s bring to the silver screen? What legacy have the past ten years left for them to follow -- or veer away from? This, of course, is the way of the soothsayer, reading fortunes via palms and tea leaves, but from where I'm sitting, a tempest is brewing. A tempest that's poised to make landfall during the decade to come.

The last ten years in film, more specifically the latter aughts, have been defined by the continuous, endless

Brandon's Word: Avatar is Truly Indistinguishable from Magic

Avatar Review

This review does NOT contain spoilers. "They don't make movies like this anymore." A friend of mine said that to me before the lights dimmed, before the reason we were all there in that theatre began. After Avatar arrives in theaters, quotes like the one above take on new significance. No longer can those words be said for the sole sake of irony. Or in jest. They may not make movies like this, like Avatar, often enough, but because of James Cameron -- because of the ten or so years he built Avatar with, because of his many, many years of experience he used as its foundation -- they do, indeed, make movies like this. And its title is Avatar.

 Posted December 11 in Opinions, Review | Comments

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