Another day of virtual Sundance has come and gone. On day 2 I watched 4 films making 7.5 total with the weekend probably many more than that coming up. So far nothing has wowed like a Blinded by the Light, Step or Maiden but they’ve been mostly good. A lot of slowly paced films on the boring-side if I’m honest. But here goes my thoughts on the Day 2 films:
892 was a bit of a mixed bag but it has positive attributes. John Boyega stars in this based on a true story of Brian Easley- a man who robbed a bank with a bomb in his backpack to try and get the $892 the VA department owed him. The movie does a good job building up tension and the performances from Boyega and the late Michael K Williams as a negotiator are compelling. However, I don’t think the movie did a good job of getting us to sympathize with Easley or explaining his motivations. Why did he pick that bank, on that day and why did he have to put these poor women through such an awful experience?
I kind of wish the movie had been told from the women’s perspective (Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva). They had this day of horror and yet the movie basically uses them as props. The same is true for Connie Britton playing a news reporter. I felt anger at Easley for what he was doing more than I felt sympathy for his experience with the VA.
In the end, I give 892 a mixed review for a mixed film
5 out of 10
I am admittedly not the biggest fan of famed director Akira Kurosawa. I find a lot of his movies to be bloated and tedious. However, one I do like is his film Ikiru. I watched it for blind spot a few years ago and felt it was a very well acted character study. Now we have a remake of that film from director Oliver Hermanus called Living. The interesting thing about this remake is they took the script and translated it from Japanese to English and that’s it. It’s the exact same script but in a different country and language.
Fortunately, they got Bill Nighy to play the lead, Mr Williams and the amazing Sandy Powell to do the costume design that helps transfer you to the 1950s. Mr Williams is a man of routines and doesn’t like conflict or making waves for himself. Then one day he is diagnosed with a fatal disease and his rather boring life is put into perspective. This story is compelling and the performances are good but it can feel dry at times and be too slow in its pacing. However, I still overall enjoyed it because of the performances and thoughtful script.
6 out of 10
A24 is a studio that always swings for the fences but that’s not always a good thing. In After Yang they try for contemplative sci-fi but instead have a bland, dull film that never had anything interesting to say. Others seem to be enjoying this more than I did but I was very bored.
After Yang stars Colin Farrell, who is always excellent as the father of a young girl who is being raised by a robot named Yang. Eventually they attempt to save Yang’s life but the film is not as exciting as that sounds. Outside of a really fun dance opening credits scene it felt like scene after scene of people staring out into the distance and having the same conversations over and over again. There wasn’t enough story and the characters left me flat.
In general I’m not the biggest fan of slow contemplative sc-ifi but sometimes it can win me over like with Dune and Ex-Machina. This unfortunately was not for me although it does have some pretty cinematography and a beautiful score.
5 out of 10
Fire of Love
My favorite movie of Day 2 was a documentary called Fire of Love. It chronicles the love story of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. They are a french couple that explored volcanoes from the 1970s to their death in an eruption in Japan in 1991. Director Sara Dosa has found a treasure trove of footage of the couple and the unbelievable volcanoes they chased. It really is shocking the beauty and awe of the earth in these incredible shots. It’s amazing they lasted as long as they did.
Dosa gets filmmaker Miranda July to help her with the narration and that works for the most part. My only flaw is I wish they had more interviews from people who knew the couple. I felt like I didn’t know that much about them after having watched their documentary. We got to watch them with the volcanoes but I would have liked to learn more.
Still, for the footage and the incredible love story I recommend Fire of Love. It’s a winner.
7 out of 10