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

Red Carpet Extras sitcom zombie universal monsters 21st Century Fox space VOD Funimation Crackle medical drama Marvel Studios Television Critics Association venice game of thrones latino movie Horror Disney streaming service Comedy indie Netflix franchise National Geographic foreign Stephen King documentaries 24 frames theme song ABC Family Comedy Central comedies diversity USA SXSW MSNBC robots directors based on movie BBC justice league Superheroes Video Games E! romance Lionsgate cinemax Crunchyroll richard e. Grant blockbuster cancelled TV shows football Vudu tv talk politics Emmy Nominations anime Adult Swim movies ghosts TCA Awards Pixar Opinion Comics on TV ITV Women's History Month First Look versus Food Network cats period drama binge BET festival political drama fast and furious TIFF unscripted FX Christmas science fiction cops Captain marvel vampires Box Office NBC A24 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt chucky mutant HBO Go Nat Geo Lucasfilm golden globes emmy awards BAFTA Shudder TNT spider-man Warner Bros. 2015 satire GoT 71st Emmy Awards Mudbound cancelled television Watching Series Hallmark mission: impossible canceled TV shows Awards Tour Universal The Purge Fantasy crime drama crossover Premiere Dates Pirates thriller Biopics elevated horror Arrowverse romantic comedy Academy Awards Mary poppins Ghostbusters Cannes 20th Century Fox Pop remakes Star Trek hist cults Mary Tyler Moore kids DGA Quiz CW Seed Syfy werewolf Teen Travel Channel Turner rotten movies we love Mystery Chernobyl 2016 award winner Sci-Fi discovery spinoff Trailer Holiday Classic Film Tumblr Apple Bravo RT21 Spring TV Apple TV+ name the review TV Land Photos Disney Plus Disney twilight Song of Ice and Fire MCU Epix ESPN Spectrum Originals Avengers Hulu parents Turner Classic Movies renewed TV shows Certified Fresh Holidays TruTV die hard Rocky The CW IFC Films cartoon revenge batman Countdown Action Summer anthology stop motion canceled Peacock witnail superhero halloween TBS 45 Rock Spike Discovery Channel 2018 El Rey Character Guide Sneak Peek History dogs concert BBC America dramedy YouTube Premium Fall TV a nightmare on elm street Music spain Marvel Television Emmys Binge Guide stoner Mary Poppins Returns Paramount Logo Martial Arts TV renewals book 007 Endgame laika LGBTQ supernatural composers 2017 indiana jones PaleyFest See It Skip It Starz boxoffice all-time sequel HBO zero dark thirty Amazon Prime Video San Diego Comic-Con TCA 2017 Western criterion Pride Month Fox News Mindy Kaling television Sundance TV historical drama Comic Book toy story YouTube teaser Tomatazos cooking Writers Guild of America Cartoon Network HBO Max Animation best asian-american Winter TV Musical news hispanic christmas movies technology MTV YouTube Red streaming comics doctor who Brie Larson spy thriller scorecard transformers Amazon Studios PlayStation Marvel PBS Baby Yoda psycho Podcast game show festivals miniseries BET Awards VICE travel talk show ratings Disney Channel Polls and Games scary movies Heroines Kids & Family Super Bowl nature Thanksgiving crime thriller 2019 Showtime Columbia Pictures A&E worst true crime Black Mirror south america New York Comic Con Ellie Kemper 4/20 Superheroe OWN natural history disaster series nbcuniversal Sony Pictures The Walking Dead Reality Paramount Network GIFs stand-up comedy Tarantino TLC TCA Winter 2020 Star Wars dragons Amazon Prime adventure Creative Arts Emmys harry potter TCA cancelled DC streaming service sequels Dark Horse Comics Valentine's Day mockumentary Hallmark Christmas movies Marathons strong female leads DC Comics TCM NYCC Hear Us Out Grammys quibi American Society of Cinematographers adaptation children's TV spanish language Musicals singing competition Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 72 Emmy Awards Sundance WarnerMedia films Disney+ Disney Plus Schedule Best and Worst FOX Trivia Esquire Lifetime ABC Family toronto comiccon Cosplay Masterpiece sports dark biography Drama Pet Sematary TV Amazon dc what to watch VH1 cancelled TV series Film Festival obituary animated The Arrangement dceu reviews war Pop TV documentary SDCC AMC green book FXX video on demand worst movies CBS finale nfl comic screen actors guild Rom-Com casting sag awards reboot GLAAD Shondaland cars Toys APB independent joker slashers Trophy Talk FX on Hulu YA facebook Reality Competition screenings WGN video The Witch LGBT Tubi Lifetime Christmas movies Television Academy docudrama child's play hollywood CMT blaxploitation Awards DirecTV SundanceTV DC Universe USA Network CNN breaking bad Year in Review Country Nickelodeon CBS All Access Oscars IFC Sundance Now OneApp Calendar critics psychological thriller E3 rotten aliens Set visit serial killer Netflix Christmas movies Interview classics crime Ovation Freeform Film RT History President Walt Disney Pictures Britbox First Reviews Rocketman 2020 Apple TV Plus Winners jamie lee curtis X-Men Infographic BBC One Anna Paquin free movies Acorn TV Election social media Elton John police drama zombies Black History Month Nominations