The Mixed Tape


Sundance 2010 Day Four by Nolan Wilson Goff

Sundance is winding down, but the last weekend has been full of cool experiences. I have yet to see a bad film, and the week remains strong. America Fererra sat two rows in front of me during Blue Valentine. Before the screening started, I looked over as Adrian Grenier (star of Entourage) walked right past. Seems like the big names are starting to come back in for awards weekend. Looking forward to my last day at the ‘dance.

– Nolan

Blue Valentine (directed by Derek Cianfrance) review by Nolan

This is the story of a couple falling out of love. Cianfrance directed this low budget film flawlessly. This is the best narrative film at Sundance, thanks to the heartbreaking story and the incredible performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The film broke my heart apart. Cianfrance used contrasts (one of my favorite storytelling devices) to show the condition of the couples’ romance (or lack of). The story is contrasted with a parallel story that tells of how they first fell in love. The contrast between past and present were photographed in film and digital, respectively, and the production design features a wonderful color pallete that compares to the two different times. The soundtrack (courtesy of indie band Grizzly Bear) is both stirring and haunting. See this movie. But here is a warning: you may walk away as heartbroken as the characters within the story.

(Score: 9/10)

Four Lions review by Trevor

A dark dark comedy about 4 jihad terrorists in London as they begin to set plans for a bombing. You are laughing throughout but then you realize how depressing it is. These four characters act like they have a reason to be doing what they do but I didn’t see any motivation. The subject is very edgy and hard to laugh at sometimes, but in the end if you take it lightheartedly you get a few laughs and a very intriguing story

(Score: 6.5/10)

Sympathy for Delicious (directed by Mark Ruffalo) review by Nolan

Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut is a great first effort. Featuring a stellar cast of big Hollywood names (Orlando Bloom, anyone?), the film is about a paralyzed DJ who gets the power to heal everyone but himself. Ruffalo says that the story is about “a man getting what he needs, not what he wants.” What a theme, right? Well, it is definitely visible in the film, but the story falls just short of fully investigating the theme.  Writer Christopher Thornton does an adequate job with his pen, and excels in his perfomance of the lead character, Delicious. I’m looking forward to seeing this film again. Could be better after a second viewing.

(Score: 6/10)

happythankyoumoreplease (directed by Josh Radnor) review by Trevor

First time Writer/Director Josh Radnor also stars as Sam in this romantic comedy with a lot more heart that your typical crappy rom-com. With a well rounded cast Josh brings together a compelling story that centers around Sam and a foster boy who he finds on the subway. The boy played by newcomer Michael Algieri was fantastic as the catalyst for change in Sam’s life.

(Score 6.5/10)

Night Catches Us (directed by Tanya Hamilton) review by Nolan

Night Catches Us is a good movie. Great? No. I wanted alot more. The performances are all above average, but the story lacks tension. When one of their family members joins the Black Panthers in 1976, a family is forced to deal with the consequences. I wanted to witness more about the Black Panthers. Instead, we get a story about a family on the outside looking in. By the time the influence of the Black Panthers begins to take effect, the story is nearing the final act. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) once again delivers a top-notch performance. High marks to the production design team, and cinematographer. One last note: Jimmy Fallon’s late night band The Roots provided a perfectly fitting score.

(Score: 6/10)

More reviews coming late today!

Next Up For Us:

  • Lourdes
  • Jack Goes Boating
  • Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Winner
  • Cyrus
  • Skateland
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5 Films This Summer You Probably Didn’t See by Nolan Wilson Goff

This past summer featured the fantastic (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek) and the awful (Michael Bay’s Transformers 2). Amongst the successful box office hits, were many hidden gems that may have escaped the public eye.

Here are 5 films this summer that found critical success, despite their limited releases.

The Hurt Locker

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A near lock for a Best Picture nomination, Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliantly paced Iraq war thriller awed everyone who saw it. It featured fantastic characters with fantastic performances by Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie. “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

(500) Days of Summer

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This film is the best representation of post-modern love ever seen on screen. The performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, have been widely acclaimed, and for good reason. “This is the story of boy meets girl…but I must tell you up front, this is not a love story. It is a story about love.”

The Stoning of Soraya M.

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Wow. As heartbreaking as this film is, it is a story that must be heard.  The title says it all, and this film must be seen. You will be awed by the power of this true story, and the importance of journalism. The Stoning is a true example of the mistreatment of women in Muslim society, and Shoreh Aghdashloo’s breathtaking performance will floor you. “Voices of women do not matter in here. I want you to take my voice with you.”

Moon

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Starring Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, Moon is the terrific directorial debut of Duncan Jones.  Moon is much like a interesting, action filled version of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The film is essentially a one man show, but Rockwell’s performance grabs ahold of audiences and grants us entry into the psyche of his character. Aditionally, Clint Mansell’s score is the best of the year. 250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face…is yourself.

Sin Nombre

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The Sundance Film Festival darling, and directorial debut of Cary Fukunaga, is a foreign road movie detailing the trevails and passions of those venturing to the American border. Complete with gang violence and love, the story is a tragedy exploring themes of atonement and sacrifice. The greatest sin of all is risking nothing.

What was your favorite film of the summer?

-Nolan Wilson Goff

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