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

SXSW See It Skip It dark Nickelodeon technology CNN Character Guide harry potter disaster spinoff criterion anime Reality Competition Pride Month crime thriller Marvel VH1 archives rt archives Crunchyroll TCA Winter 2020 TIFF christmas movies Anna Paquin social media football concert Quiz dogs Martial Arts 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards mission: impossible Funimation worst movies Emmy Nominations TruTV 4/20 CW Seed name the review boxoffice travel halloween tv italian Mindy Kaling nbcuniversal blockbuster Disney Channel independent Mystery Crackle Netflix TCA Awards cooking TBS Sci-Fi Paramount Plus Turner Writers Guild of America Disney Plus 72 Emmy Awards Summer reviews spanish language A&E cops Toys psycho Action 45 Ovation comedies A24 PBS women FX NYCC BBC America japanese aliens ITV President YA foreign 007 Star Trek composers Disney streaming service TV One witnail Rom-Com TNT cinemax History twilight breaking bad what to watch Pet Sematary south america Lionsgate Country Warner Bros. The Walt Disney Company hollywood CBS All Access Arrowverse scorecard Bravo critics biography Emmys Certified Fresh zero dark thirty Opinion spanish SDCC BET Awards Acorn TV finale Comic Book Hallmark Christmas movies Hallmark Fox Searchlight Cannes 2016 Shondaland game show Best and Worst Discovery Channel werewolf Black History Month nfl fresh BET series Awards Superheroes Western Apple TV Plus E! Tumblr ABC ViacomCBS 24 frames canceled Rocky WGN Winners Heroines DC streaming service cults batman PaleyFest parents TV Extras robots WarnerMedia E3 Fantasy The Academy serial killer news nature CBS Rock cancelled 99% unscripted remakes films joker National Geographic movies stoner Marvel Television halloween Star Wars rotten Rocketman binge universal monsters HBO festival FOX Sundance politics GoT The Walking Dead Vudu Creative Arts Emmys discovery Biopics The CW documentaries child's play science fiction Marathons 20th Century Fox Mudbound Spring TV toy story adaptation The Purge TV Land emmy awards Marvel Studios The Arrangement ratings 2018 dragons Pop sequel superhero chucky FXX American Society of Cinematographers Family MTV crossover comics james bond docudrama Podcast singing competition documentary VOD cancelled TV series based on movie Comedy romance Music pirates of the caribbean australia revenge vampires ABC Family Freeform Syfy Comics on TV Elton John 2015 Set visit free movies Adult Swim Academy Awards blaxploitation Countdown miniseries Fall TV Trophy Talk Tarantino Ghostbusters casting Spectrum Originals laika cats hist Lucasfilm TCA satire golden globes transformers Teen zombies animated Alien Binge Guide kids latino Logo Hulu Musical doctor who YouTube Premium Chernobyl Universal Calendar zombie Endgame Song of Ice and Fire HBO Go Winter TV supernatural Thanksgiving Mary Tyler Moore ID children's TV Superheroe dc ghosts television french Film Festival AMC green book stop motion tv talk spy thriller Masterpiece TCA 2017 game of thrones toronto crime MCU teaser Brie Larson fast and furious Holiday FX on Hulu mockumentary IFC romantic comedy sports Comedy Central OneApp Apple TV+ obituary war strong female leads Black Mirror cancelled TV shows richard e. Grant streaming GIFs cancelled television Tomatazos Sony Pictures jamie lee curtis Ellie Kemper black Peacock CMT Nat Geo Oscars Box Office Esquire Horror stand-up comedy hispanic Disney police drama canceled TV shows Animation dceu Video Games Super Bowl Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt die hard Apple Cosplay Christmas Sundance TV Starz classics deadpool YouTube Red MSNBC talk show Dark Horse Comics Sundance Now comic books Holidays Lifetime Christmas movies worst facebook Film Musicals franchise Food Network 71st Emmy Awards Sneak Peek Kids & Family New York Comic Con Classic Film video golden globe awards rom-coms a nightmare on elm street festivals political drama First Look 21st Century Fox IFC Films Paramount Network Trivia Walt Disney Pictures justice league Watching Series period drama PlayStation psychological thriller Travel Channel Red Carpet Amazon Studios sitcom HBO Max movie directors all-time Stephen King ABC Signature sag awards RT21 Showtime BBC ESPN Pixar comic Turner Classic Movies RT History Mary Poppins Returns Baby Yoda renewed TV shows space best scary movies boxing NBC versus SundanceTV Shudder screenings true crime Drama APB dramedy Trailer VICE video on demand award winner First Reviews Mary poppins Awards Tour Tubi rotten movies we love Premiere Dates adventure Year in Review YouTube Valentine's Day sequels Interview DirecTV Cartoon Network 2019 Infographic Reality cartoon slashers mutant venice Avengers USA screen actors guild Chilling Adventures of Sabrina DGA Epix medical drama book Television Academy Women's History Month LGBTQ Nominations Election asian-american thriller crime drama GLAAD spain Amazon natural history Britbox elevated horror BBC One BAFTA Polls and Games X-Men trailers 2020 jurassic park Hear Us Out Amazon Prime Paramount Captain marvel Grammys indie reboot spider-man USA Network Amazon Prime Video The Witch Fox News San Diego Comic-Con diversity anthology TLC quibi DC Universe DC Comics OWN Photos Disney+ Disney Plus indiana jones Pop TV Netflix Christmas movies Television Critics Association Pirates El Rey comiccon theme song LGBT Lifetime TCM historical drama cars Schedule 2017 Columbia Pictures TV renewals Spike