Films in Good Taste
As all of you are well aware, Jason and I have enormously good taste. Where we go fashion follows without reservation. Remember Jason’s Mario speedo? Need I say more? Here’s yet another example of our legendary discernment in action.
The Sundance Film Festival has been a January tradition for us for about a decade. We attend five or six films each year. It’s hard to choose which shows to go to, out of the over a hundred available, based on the small paragraph provided for each, especially without critics’ opinions to sway you. We know how to pick them though. On that note, I present to you our Sundance selections for 2015.
Dark Horse was an inspirational documentary about a racehorse called Dream Alliance bred by a group of regular Joes from a small mining village in Wales. This “cheap” thoroughbred took that sport of the privileged by its snooty hock and galloped all over it. Dark Horse was moving and funny and won the World Cinema Audience Award at the festival.
Meru, a U.S. made documentary, covered the story of three American climbers and their two attempts to scale the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, a perilous route to the top of Meru’s 21,000-foot peak that had not yet been successfully ascended. What was so remarkable about this film, and probably one of the primary reasons it won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award, was its abundant footage of breathtaking scenery and heart-pounding action that was mostly taken by these mountaineers as they were navigating this hazardous fin.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic this year went to Slow West, another movie we attended. Slow West was a Western of a curious sort. Although it took place in Colorado, it was made by a Scottish director/writer and filmed in New Zealand. Yet, it captured the spirit of America’s tangled heritage quite well.
Strangerland, an Australian-made picture featuring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, was undeniably hard to watch. It was part thriller and part psychological drama and all a bit raw and disturbing. The characters weren’t particularly likable but their portrayal of human nature was refreshingly candid.
The last two shows we saw at Sundance were premiers. We enjoyed them but they weren’t awarded anything beyond our prestigious presence. Experimenter was a stylistic look at Stanley Milgram, the conductor of the Yale “obedience experiments.” Don Verdean was a satire about biblical archeologists that was written and directed by Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame. It had that same random funny-yet-awkward feel.
In total, we attended six films at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Three of them won festival awards and all but one were followed by a Q&A. I’d say that picking 50% award-winning and 83% famously-followed shows entitles us to a certain degree of confidence in our tasteful selectivity. Yup, we know about popular.