Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sundance London 2012

So it is the end of the weekend. A weekend that was amazing and inspiring. This weekend I went to Sundance London the film and music festival hosted in the O2 Arena. Over the last 3 days I saw a total of 6 films. In this post I will give my full write up of each day and then hopefully in the next week or so my video blog will be up about the event. So let’s start with day one:

The festival actually began on the Thursday but unfortunately my dad and I were not able to make it up to London until the Friday. We started off the day by having a look around the O2 Arena and ended up in the Sundance Inc Club where we had a few drinks and watched a couple of live bands. The first live band we saw were a competition winner sponsored by Gibson Guitars. They were an unsigned band named Orlando Seale and The Swell. They had 10 members who played a range of instruments, this included flute, drums, guitars and an awesome string section. The band was incredible and I have no doubt that they will go on to do great things, their music was a mixture of genres including, indie, pop and folk. I found an instant connection to the music and immediately bought their CD after they had performed. You can check out the band here. In terms of music they were definitely the highlight of the weekend and recommend them highly to everyone. We only saw one film that day, and that film was Safety Not Guaranteed. What a way to start off the first day of the festival. This was actually one of the best films of the weekend and I have also read reviews that say it could be ‘the film of the year’. The film follows a magazine reporter and his two interns on a journey to find out if a man can time travel after he had placed an advert in paper looking for a partner to go with him. The advert in the paper is actually real and happened a while ago and turned into something of an Internet phenomenon. The screenwriter Derek Connolly saw potential in this and the idea for this film was born. The film was mix of sci-fi and romantic comedy and it fulfilled all expectations and more! The characters were all cast brilliantly especially the character of Darius played by the brilliant Aubrey Plaza. The film was very funny and very touching and you are left throughout wondering if this man can actually time travel or is he simply mentally unstable.  All the characters were well written and loved even though they are all misfits and have their flaws. I can’t really say anything bad about this film apart from that it took me a while to see the relationship between two of the leads but by the end I loved it. Being able to meet the director Colin Trevorrow afterwards really confirmed that this film was made by the right people who really cared about telling this story to the audience.

On Saturday we saw 3 films. The first being For Ellen, this film was about a young rock star named Joby who travelled to a town to meet with lawyers to discuss the divorce with his wife and who will get the custody of his child Ellen. The film had a great cast with Paul Dano proving yet again he is one of the best actors around. The story was also great and had so much potential to be better then it was. Because unfortunately this film was not that good, it was very slow and was filled with scenes that dragged out too long or made no sense to the narrative at all. The director So Yong Kim touched upon other subplots including the breakdown of his band and how his experiences were changing what music he wanted to play. These were well set up but after that they were not touched upon again. I would have loved to hear one of his songs as it would have made sense of the character he was, because he could have been anyone, not a rock star. The film had a great story with so much potential which was wasted and in the end created a slow and boring film. The second film of the day was LUV, which was about an 11 year old boy who in one day takes a trip out with uncle and ends up witnessing a side of Baltimore which a young child should never see, we watch the events unfold that witness this boy becoming a man in one day. The film and the story was great and had one of the most emotional and compelling performances of the weekend which was actually from 11 year old boy, Woody played the by the incredible Michael Rainy Jr. The young boy puts on a performance better then the rest of the cast which included the extremely talented Danny Glover, Common, Dennis Haysbert and Michael Kenneth Williams. When the film ended I had enjoyed it but found some of the set pieces a bit unbelievable, but the director Sheldon Candis gave a talk about the film and how it was loosely based on his experiences with his uncle and how it was a coming of age ‘fable’. The man was incredible and his talk made me love the film even more. Shelodon described the film as ‘a gangster film with love’, which is true, but to me it was much more then another gangster film. The final film of the day was the 25th anniversary of the screening of the cult classic film Rivers Edge, this was a special event made possible by MGM who also gave away some pretty nifty goodie bags including a studio blanket. The film is about a group of friends who’s loyalty is tested when one of the members kills his girlfriend. Many of the audience had seen this film or were big fans, this was my first time. I really enjoyed the film and saw it as black comedy that raised questions on society in that era. Crispin Glover played a weird a wacky druggy named Layne and actually came out after the show with director Tim Hunter to talk about the filmmaking experience. I liked the film and it came across to me as an adult’s version of E.T.

The last day of the festival and it ended in style. I got to see two more films, a panel and Robert Redford stood a couple feet away from me at one point. The first film of the day was Liberal Arts, this film was written, directed by and starred Josh Radnor. The film follows the character of Jesse who is invited back to his old university for a retirement dinner for one of his old professors. While he is there he meets and starts a relationship with a student who is 19 years old. There is a difference of 16 years between the couple. The film strikes up the themes of age, love and most importantly morals. It was one of the best films of the festival and really was a brilliant and touching story. My Dad said that it might possibly be one of the best films he has ever seen and nearly made him cry. Most of the audience were welling up near the end and made you want to do something more with your life. One of the best things about the film was the cast and the great chemistry between them all especially Elizabeth Olsen and her characters relationship with Jesse. I asked Josh Radnor if the chemistry was hard to find in actors and he replied that he would rather work with actors he got on with, rather than because of who they are. My favourite scene was between the two actors and they are reading the letters they have been sending to each other, they talk about classical music and why it is surprisingly good. The whole scene is edited really well and is accompanied by the music which just makes it even cooler. After this film we saw the panel Making LUV that gave director Sheldon Candis even more time to talk about the making of his film. The talk was really inspiring and made me even more determined to fulfill my dream of becoming a filmmaker. He also talked more about the young actor Michael Rainy Jr and how he was a godsend to the film and how without him the film would have fallen apart. The last film of the festival I saw was 2 Days in New York, this was the sequel to the excellent 2 Days in Paris. This time the character of Marion lives with her new boyfriend Mingus played by the hilarious Chris Rock. The plot is similar to the first one, in terms of the testing of the couples relationship, especially when Marion’s dad, sister and ex-boyfriend come to ‘The Big Apple’ to see them. The consequences are very funny and you will not get bored once. The new addition of Chris Rock really helps the push the sequel into new heights, some of his one liners are brilliant; ‘KKK Bunny’ being one of them. Julie Delpy wrote, directed and starred in the excellent film, unfortunately she couldn’t make it to the festival but either way this was a great end to what was one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

Well I think I chose well, when it came to my first ever film festival. I saw some amazing films and met the most inspiring people! There was one thing that stayed the same throughout all the films I saw, this was that they all had incredible stories. This is not something you get as much in mainstream cinema these days. There was always an advert before each of the screenings where Robert Redford would say ‘Imagine a world without stories.’ Films are about telling a story and these films did this and more! These films had heart and should be the ones that are dominating the box office. I haven’t just seen some incredible films this weekend, I have also been told some incredible stories which will stay with me forever.

Thank you for reading! If you attended the festival please let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did in the comment bellow! Or feel free to email me at alex-moppy@hotmail.com

My video blog for the festival will hopefully be up in the next few days along with my review of Avengers Assemble.

Thank you Sundance London!

1 comment:

  1. Incredible weekend also at my first ever film festival. Do I agree with everyting in Alex;s blog, yes I do, one film was just dull, the rest were either bordering on or were just brilliant. And yes Liberal Arts is one of the best films I have ever seen and was a tad emotional. Thanks for a great weekend Alex and Sundance.


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