Greetings from in the middle of the great snowy Rocky Mountains right in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. Deciding to fly across the country in order to take in a few movies might seem a bit crazy, but since it is the early proving grounds for many releases later in the year and it is a movie-watchers mecca I couldn’t pass up the chance. I got in Saturday afternoon of premiere weekend and got right down to watching films. Brief overviews and reactions follow, all helped to start a great event for discovering this coming year’s best.
Manchester By The Sea
What a great way to adjust to the festival atmosphere with a very appropriately indie feature from Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret). Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a janitor working near Boston when a family tragedy strikes he is forced to deal with some serious latent emotional baggage. Lonergan’s stamp as a filmmaker from his previous efforts is very evident this one in terms of the dialogue, characterizations and situations. Affleck has never been better here as Lee a tormented soul living in the past while dealing with present obligations. A wonderful and at times even harrowing examination of a life coming back into focus. Great
When Two Worlds Collide
In 2008, as Peruvian President Alan Garcia seceded parts of the Amazonian Rainforest to foreign interests as part of the Free Trade Agreement with America the native Amazon people protested their voice not being considered in the talks. Filmmakers Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel film the clash between the local peoples and the state police in a harrowing documentary that focuses on environmental concerns, rights of native people and government corruption. A fantastic look and spotlight into a story that unfortunately was not covered widely in world news, that had remained on the fringes of awareness outside of Peru. Very Good
Love & Friendship
Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco) returns to the screen with an witty and hilarious adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan reuniting with Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny. Stillman’s brand with comedy of manners translates marvelously well with Austen’s writing and characters. Beckinsale’s character of Lady Susan is an expert manipulator especially towards her own daughter Frederica, played by Morfydd Clark, trying to marry her off for the dowry. While rest of the people in her social circle try to help the poor girl marry for the right reasons. A fine satire of high society that could only come from the director of Metropolitan. Very Good
Viggo Mortensen is yes, fantastic, playing a new age father, Ben Cash, raising his six kids the only way he knows how: to be worldly, well-read and self-reliant individuals. Going to great lengths to teach them by making them live in the woods doing survival training, freely quote from great philosophers and thinkers and always answering their questions about the world truthfully. Playing up his renaissance man public persona, Mortensen eases us into his on-screen family and the dynamics between them all. Sharp dialogue and excellent chemistry complement this ensemble piece, with Mortensen giving his best performance since Eastern Promises. A wonderful drama about coming-of-age for young adults and moving on for parents. Very Good
Be assured more films are to follow as I overview all the films I was able to take in at the the prestigious and influential film festival.