I've been in Park City now for about 26 hours, and all I can think about is sex, love, punk rock and insomnia. A quick glance at the catalog would suggest that I am in the right place. Read on for the details...
- American Hardcore– "Hardcore was more than music," reads a statement on the website for this documentary, based on the Feral House book by Stephen Blush. "It was a social movement created by Reagan-era misfit kids." The movement as such was dead before Reagan left office, but with Nirvana and Green Day going on to sell tens of millions of records in 1994 alone, the musical aesthetic was soon reborn – sans social critique, the political urgency of the DIYers worn inside-out as personal fashion. Born too late to live it the first time around, at some point in the late 90s I became your annoying friend prone to dropping Minor Threat lyrics into casual conversation. The petulant middle-class teenager inside me can't wait to see it.
- Destricted – An omnibus comprised of semi-shorts by Sam Taylor-Wood, Gaspar "So twisted Harmony Korine idolizes me" Noe, Marina Abramovic, Marco Brambilla, Larry "so twisted I invented Harmony Korine" Clark and Matthew Barney (that's Mr. Bjork to you), Destricted's mission is to liberate "erotic film" from the constraints of the mainstream and the stigma of porn. Segments feature a range of love objects from babysitters to monster trucks; as Clark's contribution (a seeming take-off on the mid-90s Calvin Klein ads his early photography inspired) seems like the most tame, this seems like a must-see for afficianados of cerebral smut.
- Flannel Pajamas – I'm a sucker for any film that takes love seriously enough to approach it with a measure of realism – and apparently, I'm not the only one, if Brokeback Mania is any indication. Directed by Jeff Lipsky (founder of Lot 47 and October Films, he also distributed John Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence), Pajamas tracks an intense love affair between two New Yorkers, played by Justin Kirk and Julianne Nicholson. All other things being equal, a recent indieWIRE interview with the director totally won me over. First, he namechecked Cassavetes, Bergman, Woody Allen, and Mike Leigh as his biggest influences; then, he said that his partial goals in making the film were to "meet a wonderful woman who lives in New York" and to have the "opportunity to direct an episode of The Gilmore Girls, the best written (and acted) show on TV." Cassavetes AND Rory and Lorelai? He's got me.
- Wide Awake – Alan Berliner makes personal documentaries (of which Nobody's Business is my personal favorite) – sort of like Ross McElwee (who won the Documentary prize at the very first Sundance for Sherman's March, the now-classic, three-hour discourse on the filmmaker's own struggle to mate with Southern women), but somewhat less solipsistic. Berliner's films are all about him (Business tracked his efforts to trace his geneology and his difficult relationship with his dad), but they've also got an eye on the world, and particularly the post-War American Experience at large. His latest tracks his own battle with insomnia and, particularly, the surprisingly intense impact his own inability to sleep ends up having on the people close to him. On the one hand, a life without sleep is an untenable existence; at the same time, if Alan could sleep, when would he have time to make art? One of my favorite under-the-radar filmmakers, it would be great to see Berliner break out with this one.
- Factotum – Matt Dillon is a wildly uneven actor. One could say that he's in the middle of a small post--Crash career renaissance ... if one were willing to overlook his major role in last summer's Herbie: Fully Loaded. But he's at his best playing inexplicably appealing narcissicts (Midnight Cowboy, obviously, but I also refuse to dismiss Wild Things), and the prospect of watching him play Charles Bukowski alter-ego Henry Chinaski has me all riled up. In Bent Hamer's feature based on Bukowski's second novel, Dillon's Chinowski struggles to support his true loves – booze, broads, and betting – through minimum wage menial labor. Marisa Tomei co-stars.
- Art School Confidential – After taking a sharp, post-Ghost World left turn into Bad Santa land, Terry Zwigoff called up World cartoonist and collaborator Daniel Clowes, and the two got the old band back together to make this sort-of satire. Max Minghella rocked my world late last year in the woefully underappreciated Bee Season; he stars here as an art school freshman who cooks up a plot to land his dream girl, and art superstardom, in one fell swoop. Need I say that it all goes (hopefully hilariously) awry? This one has me on the pedigree alone; the criminal/fame whore thing has me a bit skeptical, but I'm willing to bet that Zwigoff and Clowes get the tone right.
- The Science of Sleep– Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was easily my favorite film of 2004. Sleep is Gondry's third feature, and his first directorial effort from a non-Charlie Kauffman-penned screenplay (Gondry wrote this one himself). In French and English, and starring Y Tu Mama Tambien heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal, Sleep tracks the problems that arise when one man's overactive dreamlife starts to invade his waking world. The film is described in the Festival handbook as "science fiction [that[ doesn't explore outer, but rather inner, space, playfully reflecting the interaction between the worlds we inhabit: nature, society, and mind." It all sounds just crazy enough to work. Gondry is apparently refusing to show the film until late in the festival, making the wait all the more unbearable.