The Mixed Tape

Sundance 2010 Top 10 by Nolan Wilson Goff

Here’s my list. After a few weeks of thought, a few films stand far above the competition. One of the best experiences of my life. Great films, great friends, and excitement about the future all resulted from a great week of Sundance style rebellion.


The Top 10

  1. Blue Valentine
  2. Winter’s Bone winner of Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic
  3. Gasland winner of Special Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary
  4. Hesher
  5. Animal Kingdom winner of Grand Jury Prize for World Dramatic
  6. Douchebag
  7. The Dry Land
  8. Cane Toads 3D
  9. Sympathy for Delicious winner of Special Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic
  10. Daddy Longlegs

*keep in mind, these are out of the 19 films I saw (over 80 screened at Sundance).

Sundance 2010 Day Two by Nolan Wilson Goff
January 28, 2010, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Film, Reviews, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Great second day at the dance. We saw some good films, one that disappointed, but all three were enjoyable. Spotted Oscar nominated actress Melissa Leo at a screening of of one of her two films (The Dry Land, Welcome to the Rileys). Starting to grow quite fond of this place, and it will be difficult to leave Sunday. Seen 8 films in two days, so this is alot like paradise for me. Right now, sitting at a private Q&A for The Dry Land with cast/crew.


The Dry Land (directed by Ryan Piers Williams) review by Nolan

Ryan Piers Williams’ story of a soldier returning home from Iraq, is both gripping and visceral. James, the soldier, immediately begins suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and the film is his journey through this condition. The visceral story is reflected in the handheld cinematography which adequately shows west Texas and plunges us into the character’s world. The performances are decent, although Wilmer Valderamma supporting performance is well above average. The story is good, but too similar to the many war dramas released recently. Maybe I am just tired of war movies? The Hurt Locker, Brothers, and In the Valley of Elah all deal with relationships outside of war and the traumas brought on by experiences overseas. I do respect the filmmaker’s intention and think this a good movie that will bring light to much needed changes in how the military handles and cares for our soldiers. After all, they are fighting for US.

(Score: 7/10)

Buried (directed by Rodrigo Cortes) review by Trevor

Imagine you are in a box 6 feet in the ground, and no, your not dead. Yet. You are Ryan Reynolds a truck driver in Iraq help for ransom. We follow Paul and the camera never leaves him: the whole movie is inside the coffin. The cinematography  was riveting with such a complex set ups, some camera moves seemed impossible. The lighting was so realistic with 4 practical lights including a lighter, cell phone, glow stick, and a flashlight. The way these were used was very creative and very dramatic. Unfortunately the film as a whole is lacking.  Its novelty is also its downfall. We stay too long in the coffin and it would have worked better as a short film. It is a great thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat (sometimes). But I wish I could have walked away with something. Instead, I left empty handed.

(Score: 6.5/10)

Douchebag (directed by Drake Doremus) review by Nolan

This poorly photographed film is without a doubt my favorite film at Sundance so far.  Many could describe it as  an ugly film, and that wouldn’t be far from the truth.  What is incredible about this film, is not technical, but rather in the narrative. The film is an entirely original story exploring the relationship of two brothers and how they tear down the wall that stands between them. The protagonist, Sam, is an interesting study in identity and what people choose to hide or reveal to one another.  The film features hilarious performances and dialogue, which kept the audience entertained throughout. Technically awfully, but beautifully written and acted, Douchebag is a must see if it finds a distributor.

(Score: 8/10)

Next Up For Us:

  • Gasland (documentary)
  • Hesher (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
  • It’s A Wonderful Afterlife
  • Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Sundance 2010 Day One by Nolan Wilson Goff

What an experience thus far! Seen some great films so far, and the vibe of Sundance is like nothing else. Ran into a few celebrities during our strolls around Park City (Samuel L. Jackson, Diego Luna, Jonah Hill). This city is a beautiful place where high and low culture join together around the common bonds of filmmaking. Looking forward to a great week. Even ran into director Jay Duplass (director of Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly) in line for Daddy Longlegs. Really great guy who encouraged me to skip his film, and see the films I can’t see in theaters.


Animal Kingdom (directed by Daniel Michod) review by Trevor

We arrived at Sundance 7 hours before our check in time with our group so we decided to try and catch a film. We wait listed and got tickets for Animal Kingdom, a superb crime drama following a family in Melbourne Australia. We follow the moral decay of “J” who moves in with his criminal relatives, following the death of his mother. He is a blank canvas and this new family abuses that innocence. They had a fantastic cast and it was shot beautifully. Through J’s journey, we discover that animals lie on both sides of the law. It is also an interesting examination of truth, and how humans develop truths for themselves, which may be right or wrong. Only complaints would be that the film was too long and one characters story line entirely disappeared.

(Score: 8/10)

Daddy Longlegs (directed by the Sadfie Brothers) review by Nolan

Mixed reactions resulted from this film (a product of this year’s Cannes Film Festival). Some loved it, others didn’t. I happened to love it. It’s a humorous and tragic tale of a divorced father who gets two weeks a year to spend with his kids. The father excels at being a fun dad, but fails to be the kind of parent his kids need. This film examines a tragic hero who fails despite good intentions. The performances were all stellar, and the story structure (or lack of) brings freshness to a story based on the directors’ own experiences with their father. The story sparks from how they remembered feeling in these moments, rather than their opinion of their father now. See this film if you get a chance. It should be on Video On Demand.

(Score: 7.5/10)

Obseledia (directed by Diane Bell) reviewed by Trevor

Obseledia was our second film of Sundance, and I was excited for the visuals because I knew it was shot on the RED One. The story was intriguing: a man writing the encyclopedia of obsolete things on his typewriter (Obsolete+Encyclopedia=Obseledia). He believes love is obsolete and you think this is the driving force, but then it is abandoned for a global warming presentation , before returning to the love plot. I had a chance to talk to the fantastic cinematographer afterwards and asked “Why shoot on the RED when you’re making a movie about obsolete things?” (since the film world is in this debate of film vs. digital). Unfortunately the budget didn’t allow for it, but it was visually compelling none the less.

(Score: 6/10)

Cane Toads 3D (directed by Mark Lewis) review by Nolan

Wow. During this documentary, you laugh all the way through, and by the end realize, “Whoa. I actually learned something.” The sequel in the making for 25 years, this addition embraces 3D technology to astounding success. Although I am not a believer in 3D, I am now, for nature docs.  Masterfully directed, Toads is structured using interviews and reenactment that reach levels far above your standard recreations of events. The director asked each person to play a character of themselves (rather than just their normal self) to further the effect of the storyline, which resulted in hilarious moments from beginning to end. I would now consider myself a semi expert on Cane Toads, as the doc proved extremely educational, and presented both sides of the argument without bias. The film turned the toads into lifelike characters with real life emotions, using established eye lines and musical cues. I highly recommend this Australian documentary.

(Score: 8/10)

Up Next For Us:

  • The Dry Land (starring America Ferrera, Ryan O’Nan)
  • Buried (starring Ryan Reynolds)
  • Douchebag (directed by Drake Doremus)

Should be a great day tomorrow!