Monday, January 30, 2006

Isn't that Special...

If you’re a conscientious professional, Sundance is all about the movies, the latest in independent cinema. So, since I am a conscientious professional, I went to see a bunch of movies. However, since I’m an editor, I didn’t have to write a damned thing about any of them. My mission was strictly an information gathering one. No one said anything about information reporting.

I saw seven movies in the three nights that I was at Sundance. (I was hoping to see more, but the aformentioned tequila derailed my grand design.) Here’s a brief rundown of the most noteworthy.

This Film is Not Yet Rated is a documentary about the MPAA and how, when dispensing ratings, they give preferential treatment to studio films over independent releases. And before you say “big deal” you should realize that how a film is rated, especially when we’re talking about an R vs. an NC-17, bear a direct correlation to its eventual gross. And so, these filmmakers want to know who these people are, who decide their fate, and to what standards they seek to uphold and to which they themselves are held. It’s a little inside baseball, which will bear some impact on its eventual box office performance, but required viewing for anyone even pretending to be in the motion picture business.

Right at Your Door, by first time writer-director Chris Gorak, is a pretty engaging little thriller, and a perfect low-budget execution of a high concept. A series of dirty bombs go off in downtown LA, stranding an out of work musician at home. His wife was on her way to work. He’s got to seal himself inside their house to remain safe from the radioactive fall-out. And then, his wife finds her way home… The second act is a little flabby, but it was really smartly done, an inspiring example of what you can do with a house, two actors, and a whole lot of duct tape.

Now, Special. Wow. Not special at all, In fact, one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long while. Michael Rappaport stars as a down on his luck meter maid (or meter man, I suppose) who, in looking to turn his life around, signs up to be a subject for a drug trial. This pill is supposed to remove one’s self-doubt. But, since this schmuck is a comic book fan, it turns him into a superhero. Or is it all in his head? To save you the trouble of sitting through almost 2 hours of bad writing and even worse acting (and, to be frank, zero respect for real comic fans), yeah, it’s all in his head. When Rappaport, wearing the dingy white leather suit he dons for crime fighting, has to do battle with the two pharma-CEOs he’s rendered invisible through his super-t’ai chi…

No, I’m not gonna say anymore. I want to keep what’s left of my spirit.

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