SUNDANCE: Weinberg's Sundance Scorecard

by | January 26, 2006 | Comments

With Senh, Jen, and Terrible Tim Ryan roaming the streets of Park City, the Tomato readers have had plenty of Sundance reports to pick through. But I thought I’d contribute my own two pennies to the coverage, and give you the best-to-worst lowdown on the myriad movies I took in.

Ratings run on a 1-5 scale. I’ll keep the commentary brief because I have a whole lot of work to do!

The Descent – ***** – I see every horror flick under the sun. And this one actually scared me. And it gets even better the second time around.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated – ****1/2 – Master documentarian Kirby Dick takes a few shortcuts in this demolition of the MPAA ratings board, but I can’t imagine a movie geek who won’t have a darn good time with this doco.

Awesome; I F–kin’ Shot That! – ****1/2 – For Beastie Boys fans only. Like me!

Art School Confidential – **** – First half: really, really funny. Second half: Focuses on a less than fascinating subplot and the laughs sorta dry up. Still, if you’re a "Ghost World" fan, or you just love seeing the "art kids" get a nice satirical skewering, you’ll dig it fine.

Little Miss Sunshine – **** – One or two unwieldly subplots prevent this one from getting a higher rating, but I still liked it a whole lot. Carell, Kinnear, and Alan Arkin deliver some really solid, weird laughs here.

Off the Black – **** – A low-key and melancholy character study with Nick Nolte at the top of his game. (He plays an emotionally isolated umpire who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a high school pitcher.)

Factotum – **** – Matt Dillon as a pseudo-Bukowksi, and the guy delivers one of his best performances ever.

Special – **** – Michael Rapaport plays a guy who may or may not have inherited "super powers" after testing a freaky new prescription drug. Imagine if Kevin Smith had directed "Unbreakable."

Sherrybaby – ***1/2 – A rough-edged and sobering character study with Maggie Gyllenhaal at the top of her game. (She plays a recovering junkie fresh out of prison who’s trying to re-connect with her young daughter.)

TV Junkie – ***1/2 – Comprised entirely of Jim Kirkham’s home movies, in which he laughs, cries, becomes famous, and builds a family … all while battling a ravenous crack addicion.

Wordplay – ***1/2 – A lightweight but colorfully entertaining doco about the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and the various people who adore it. The presence of a hilarious Jon Stewart helps a whole lot.

Wristcutters: A Love Story – ****1/2 – Patrick Fugit finds himself in a bleached-out purgatory after committing suicide and sets off to find his old girlfriend.

American Hardcore – *** – If you’re a fan of the early-80s hardcore punk scene, this retrospective documentary will curl your toes. Felt a little redundant to me, but then again I’m not a member of the target audience.

13 Tzameti – *** – A slow-starting French thriller about a clueless kid who somehow finds himself trapped in an underground Russian Roulette tournament.

Lucky Number Slevin – *** – Too clever for its own good, but packed with familiar faces, this one’s a familiar gangster flick that’ll feel right at home on HBO.

The World According to Sesame Street – *** – Alternately fascinating, self-congrulatory, and even a little dull, this doco takes a look at the ways in which Sesame Street branches out to new markets across the world.

Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out – *** – Feels like Police drummer Stewart Copeland pulled a lot of home movie footage out of his garage, recorded a narration track, and released the thing as is. A few recent interviews might have helped … especially from someone not associated with the band. Still, fans should enjoy it.

The Hawk Is Dying – *** – A dry and fairly bizarre character study with Paul Giamatti as a sad-sack weirdo who has a (very) big sister, a (mildly) handicapped nephew, and an obsession with the capture and training of hawks. Most of the Sundancers I talked to liked this flick a lot more than I did, so take my lack of enthusiasm with a grain of salt, I suppose.

Salvage – **1/2 – The first of two horror flicks that feel like short films stretched out to feature length … and it doesn’t quite work. This one’s about a girl who keeps dreaming of being slaughtered by a brutal madman … over and over and over.

Subject Two – **1/2 – A beautiful-looking but frequently slow-moving medical thriller about a mad scientist who tries to cheat death by way of some freaky formula, only he has to keep killing his subject before he can bring him back to life.

The Darwin Awards – **1/2 – Easily the most disappointing Sundance offering (in my book, anyway), this is a clumsily unfunny comedy that starts out with a great cast and a killer concept … and does next to nothing with either.

All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise – ** – Hey this just in: Same sex parents really do love their children. Now imagine that one simple message delivered for 90 straight minutes.

Somebodies – *1/2 – The first ten minutes offered some really big laughs … and then the wheels just came off. The resulting flick feels like a "House Party 6: The New Generation," only with no-name actors in the Cedric and Bernie Mac roles. But hey, Roger Ebert raved over this one, so don’t go by me…

(Slamdance Flicks)

The Call of Cthulhu – ****1/2 – One of the coolest Lovecraft adaptations you’ll ever see, this flick is 47 minutes of pure old-school style. It’s short, it’s silent, and it’s absolutely excellent.

The Other Side – ***1/2 – A winking b-movie composed of perhaps 12 other concepts, from "The Hidden" to "Jacob’s Ladder," but it’s still just enough fun to keep you watching.

Love Is the Drug – ***1/2 – A nice-guy semi-nerd who works in a pharmacy falls in with the wrong crowd … and does some really stupid things to earn the affections of Ms. Lizzy Caplan. (Like you wouldn’t do the same!)

Things to Do – ***1/2 – A bit heavy on the Napoleon Dynamite wannabeism, but still oddly amusing enough to earn my recommendation. This one’s about an awkward office drone who quits his job and returns home to live with Mom & Dad, only to fall in with a goofy old acquaintance who inspires him to make a list of "things to do."

Find Love – ***1/2 – A mostly improvised romantic drama about the ways in which love can strike at the worst imaginable moments … kinda like a disease.

The Guatemalan Handshake – *** – Weird stuff. I kept nodding off. My apologies to the filmmakers.

The Actress – *** – Three Aussie roommates welcome a new woman into their lives, and much sex ensues.

So that’s 30 movies in 6 days. Hmph. I’ve done better. For a closer look at my festival reports have a peek over at JoBlo’s, eFilmCritic, or just stick around here at Rotten Tomatoes and see if you can spot the pic of me in which I look like a crack-addicted zombie.

Also please note that the opinions offered above are mine only, and do not represent any of the other Tomato farmers, so make sure your hate mail goes to the right email address.

Tag Cloud

Watching Series Holidays Cartoon Network ghosts Anna Paquin Certified Fresh GIFs spy thriller GLAAD WarnerMedia YouTube Premium Election cooking Britbox crime The Witch boxoffice book X-Men VICE casting Pride Month Shondaland RT21 doctor who Best and Worst Hulu First Look BBC America dceu Starz Reality CBS what to watch DirecTV HBO psycho Superheroes Acorn TV BBC Pirates Rom-Com DC streaming service LGBTQ crime drama cults Creative Arts Emmys Toys binge adventure Nat Geo Awards Tour romance Logo discovery Country FXX Video Games police drama Walt Disney Pictures zero dark thirty Superheroe San Diego Comic-Con Western RT History spinoff Photos Winter TV Ghostbusters FOX Lionsgate Song of Ice and Fire Countdown SDCC SundanceTV FX Pet Sematary comic Bravo Writers Guild of America Mary poppins Valentine's Day Crackle HBO Max ABC Family natural history Thanksgiving 2016 Comics on TV Music Warner Bros. 45 Rock quibi historical drama 24 frames Infographic 20th Century Fox docudrama USA Network children's TV Amazon Prime Video series true crime Trailer psychological thriller Paramount streaming Character Guide Star Trek unscripted Horror ITV Oscars Pop Marvel SXSW harry potter Drama jamie lee curtis CNN Reality Competition Film TCM VH1 Captain marvel Grammys MCU Super Bowl dc Mudbound ABC IFC CW Seed animated El Rey Trivia 2018 sports Tomatazos ratings miniseries PBS Fantasy Showtime cinemax DGA Tarantino IFC Films theme song American Society of Cinematographers Rocky transformers Freeform Cosplay teaser Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Red Carpet Elton John Sneak Peek CBS All Access Masterpiece Family President zombies Film Festival Opinion sequel Calendar USA Christmas based on movie TV war The Arrangement MSNBC Musicals Pixar Heroines travel Polls and Games Comedy Central Sony Pictures stand-up comedy Animation festivals talk show Year in Review Awards 2019 TIFF E3 Star Wars OWN strong female leads History Musical Sundance period drama science fiction Dark Horse Comics Comedy thriller TV Land Podcast cops Martial Arts Chernobyl technology Marathons National Geographic anthology DC Universe Columbia Pictures Paramount Network CMT politics Tumblr Extras mutant Amazon Prime award winner blaxploitation Universal Schedule WGN TCA 2017 E! spider-man A&E Mystery disaster dragons Lucasfilm TCA Disney TBS The CW television Disney Channel Mary Poppins Returns tv talk AMC MTV Rocketman dramedy comiccon Food Network TNT Epix Syfy supernatural vampires 2017 NBC nature Cannes Teen 21st Century Fox robots adaptation medical drama Stephen King Vudu singing competition zombie elevated horror YA PaleyFest diversity Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Netflix Spike Brie Larson New York Comic Con justice league anime biography game show aliens revenge Emmy Nominations Binge Guide crime thriller movies YouTube Red Summer Emmys mockumentary TLC Apple Nominations Adult Swim BET crossover Mindy Kaling Kids & Family Quiz Set visit Disney streaming service Mary Tyler Moore TruTV Sci-Fi Ellie Kemper Amazon Lifetime toy story Box Office social media Comic Book Nickelodeon golden globes LGBT finale Spring TV Premiere Dates Women's History Month sitcom Black Mirror hist Fox News witnail cats 2015 007 Spectrum Originals Shudder composers Fall TV serial killer Ovation DC Comics Sundance Now APB political drama cars Biopics richard e. Grant ESPN GoT green book space Winners Interview Action facebook Esquire Trophy Talk kids See It Skip It NYCC