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Posts Tagged ‘The Case Against 8’

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 10.55.34 AM

Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden

Yesterday was tough. I’m not used to partying into the wee hours of the night…but that Day One Sundance kick-off event sure was fun!! After only four hours sleep, I dragged my sorry self out of bed and dressed quickly for the 9.00am premiere of Whiplash.

Here’s what the Sundance catalogue says about Whiplash:

Andrew, a promising 19-year-old drummer at a cutthroat Manhattan music conservatory, has little interest in being just a musician. Haunted by his father’s failed writing career and plagued with the fear that mediocrity just might be genetic, Andrew dreams of greatness. Determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps, he practices daily until his hands literally bleed. The pressure of success ratchets into high gear when he is picked to join the school band led by the infamous Terence Fletcher, a brutally savage music instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. Under Fletcher’s ruthless direction, Andrew begins to pursue perfection at any cost—even his humanity.

The truth is, this film is so much more than the description above lets on…which is part of why Sundance is so great…you never know what you’re going to actually get until you sit through a film.

The Audience Waiting for Whiplash to Start

The Audience Waiting for Whiplash to Start

The Cast and Crew Taking Audience Questions

The Cast and Crew Taking Audience Questions

Gripping, electrifying, potent, and emotionally engaging are words I would use to describe it. Damien Chazelle, the film’s 28-year-old writer-director, drew from his own personal experience for the story. {No wonder he’s not a professional musician!} His short film of the same title and subject won an award at Sundance last year. Actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons relationship on screen as student and teacher locks you in immediately and keeps you there the entire time. I won’t give anything away but do want to say two things…1) Towards the end of the film, the plot turns and twists like a wicked roller coaster ride. 2) At the very end, I found myself wanting to shout, “don’t give in, don’t give in!”, it was that damn engaging. When you see Whiplash, and you should, I think you’ll find it a fascinating movie. There’s no surprise it was chosen as the World Premiere Film to kick-off the 2014 Sundance Festival {though I believe in previous years the kick-off film hasn’t always been as good}. I, for one, think it has a very good chance of winning the U.S. Dramatic Competition award.

Two hours later, and back at the Eccles Theatre, I was at the world premiere of Camp X-Ray. This highly anticipated first feature-film from writer-director Peter Sattler sets aside the political controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay and instead focuses on the personal relationship between an unlikely pair: a recently arrived young female MP (Kristen Stewart) and a long term uncooperative male “detainee” (Payman Maadi). It is the film that has had everyone abuzz for weeks and the speculation was that this would be the box office smash of Sundance.

Photo Credit: Beth Dubber

Photo Credit: Beth Dubber

The truth is that while the film is very good…it is not great. It lacks a certain “refinement”, feels slow at times, and could benefit with some minor tightening, particularly in scenes where Kirsten Stewart’s character, Amy Cole, is interacting with characters other than the those living on the base.

Many of the online reviews for Camp X-Ray say the film received a standing ovation but, the fact is that it was only those sitting immediately around Stewart who were standing. Her performance {and that of Payman Maadi, Lane Garrison, John Carroll Lynch, and others} is good…very good. For Stewart, in particular, this role confirms she is an actress to watch and elevates her far and above the Twilight series she became famous for.

The Line to see Camp X-Ray World Premiere

The Line to see Camp X-Ray World Premiere

The Cast and Crew of Camp X-Ray Taking Audience Questions

The Cast and Crew of Camp X-Ray Taking Audience Questions

Overall, Camp X-Ray is a very good film…one to see…but don’t expect to walk out having been bowled over by it.

Today I am all about The Case Against 8 film, which is having its world premiere at Sundance. I am fortunate to be attending as a guest of Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo, two of the plaintiffs (along with Kris Perry and Sandy Stier) in the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 case.

Diana Walker

Photo Credit: Diana Walker

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