Since I am no Siskel or Ebert, I will do us all a favor and keep this review short and sweet. After all, I make the annual journey to Sundance with the sole mission of running into Hubble. Well, that and New Frontier.
Anywho…my favorite film from the first weekend of Sundance is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Emmy Award–winning director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directs this emotional coming-of-age story that evolves from after-school special to sophisticated tearjerker in under two hours. It’s beside the point that Molly Shannon and Connie Britton have supporting roles. Thomas Mann’s performance as a teenager who befriends a leukemia patient is brilliant. But wait, don’t panic—it’s actually somewhat of a stylistic comedy. Despite the dying thing, this film is brilliantly witty and humorous.
There is a lot of buzz about Mississippi Grind. But, of course…Sienna Miller. Do we care that it feels big budget? Not sure. At any rate, this story is one about how a vagabond (Ryan Reynolds) befriends a compulsive gambler. The duo makes their way from St. Louis to New Orleans with the cinematography and music playing best supporting roles throughout. I say we all root for this one. After all, Ryan needs shoes for the new baby.
Another goody is Ten Thousand Saints. Mind you, I think Ethan Hawke needs to let go of the “father who abandons his family but maintains an influential bond with his son” program. I will cut him some slack for now. For goodness sake, he lived with that role for 12 years of his life. The important point is, this dramedy about a dysfunctional family and a boy who travels to New York City to find himself works on many levels.
Last but not least, I can’t possibly sign off without a nod to Montage of Heck. Director Brett Morgen had complete access to Kurt Cobain’s letters, drawings, music, and home movies since birth. I was by no means a Nirvana fan. However, this tale of a creative but thin-skinned outsider has huge universal appeal.
See you at the movies.
Sundance Film Festival
January 22–February 1, 2015
Park City, Utah