Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Sundance Reviews

Happy inauguration day! I am certainly excited for the regime change, as are many Americans. Hopefully we can begin to put the last 8 years behind us and rebuild the country. I really thought Obama's speech was fantastic and I have to admit I got teary-eyed. I watched the inauguration in downtown Park City with many other Sundancers, and it was quite an emotional experience. I can't even imagine what it was like in Washington DC, but I think I'm glad that I was somewhere smaller. Anyway, on to the film reviews...

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
I was fortunate enough to get tickets to the world premiere of John Krusinski's directorial debut. The film is based off the book of the same title, a series of interviews. While I haven't read the book (though now I want to), the film presents it from the perspective of a female grad student interviewing men for her thesis about sexuality, power, gender, experiences, etc. It is edited in an extremely non-linear format - jumping around from scene to scene frequently and without warning - which sometimes works incredibly well and sometimes... doesn't. The acting is fantastic and John found interesting ways to make the interviews more compelling - so it wasn't just a man sitting at a table all the time. Sometimes through re-enactments that the storytellers participate in, for example. The film is a strong directorial debut for John, who couldn't have been much more humble during the Q&A, always heaping praise on everyone who worked on the project besides himself.

Push (UPDATE: Theatrically released as "Precious")
An incredibly dark story about an illiterate Harlem 16-year old girl, raped multiple times, pregnant by her father, pregnant with his second child and abused by her mother, I honestly wasn't sure I wanted to see this movie because it sounded so depressing. Another film adaptation of a novel, it turned out to be somewhat uplifting, and at times even funny. It's a powerful story about a girl who won't let the worst of the worst get her down and features some truly amazing performances. It will make you feel like you don't have any problems and that anyone can overcome anything.

Burma VJ
A documentary in which the violent footage was filmed by secret videographers and literally smuggled out of the country, this film paints a grim picture of Burma's current regime. But it's a story that needs to be seen. Something needs to be done about the authoritarian regime and the only way that will happen is if people know about it. And you have to admire the courage of the videographers and the protestors, many of whom are Buddhist monks, literally risking their lives to tell this story and attempt bring about change to their country.

Prom Night In Mississippi
It's hard to imagine that in this day and age, with an African American president being inaugurated today, there are still high schools in this country that have segregated proms. Well, in Charleston, Mississippi, they did. Until 2008, that is, when Morgan Freeman offered to pay for their prom if it was integrated. They took him up on the offer (which they declined when he offered in 1997) and had their first integrated prom. The teens make interesting characters. I'm very impressed at how forward some of them think when they've been raised by racist parents. Of course, none of the racist parents (or kids) agreed to be interviewed. But in a way, it was almost more powerful that way - their silence was proof of their shame. The film is disturbing, enlightening, funny and heartwarming all at the same time. It was great to see the kids socializing and warming up to each other. I hope that Charleston will continue to have integrated proms, but only time will tell.

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