Sundance: Glitz gets low profile as festival goes back to basics
Documentaries were the winners this year with films about Pat Tillman, cane toads, and a cautionary tale about Facebook called ‘Catfish.'
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The most buzzed-about movie at Sundance was probably “Catfish,” a microbudget documentary directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman about Ariel’s brother Yaniv, a 24-year-old New York photographer who is contacted on MySpace by an 8-year-old Michigan girl who wants permission to paint one of his photos. This leads to a cyber-romance with the girl’s older sister, but nothing is what it seems in this movie, which is like a cautionary tale for the Facebook generation. It’s a fascinating film but it has its amoral aspects – the directors don’t seem to be entirely aware that they intruded themselves, for the supposed greater good of cinema, into woeful people’s lives.Skip to next paragraph
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Of the dramatic films that I saw, and, like everybody else, I missed a slew of likely contenders, the best was probably Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give,” a pleasant enough comedy about a married Manhattan couple, played by Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt, who resell estate-sale furniture. I’m tempted to call this film Woody Allen Lite, except that, for some time now, Allen’s movies have been pretty Lite, too.
John Wells’s “The Company Men” is the latest in what is clearly a new genre: the layoff movie. Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones star as boardroom casualties in what, at times, resembles a cross between “Up in the Air” (minus the fun parts and the romance) and “Death of a Salesman.” Is this a genre that will catch on with audiences? Maybe only if the downsizing is in 3-D. (My biggest Sundance regret, by the way: Missing “Cane Toads: The Conquest,” the 3-D sequel to “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History.”)
Kevin Asch’s “Holy Rollers” stars Jesse Eisenberg as a naive Hasid who ends up smuggling Ecstasy between Amsterdam and New York. This is one of those “inspired by a true story” movies that never rings true.