Monday, May 15, 2006

The Sundance Brooklyn roadshow

The Sundance Film festival has decided to expand this year by having some of it's more obscure and unsellable films shown at the Brooklyn Acadamy of Music for a week in May.

This is a good idea because most of them won't actually get more than a cursery distribution and the only way to get them seen is to have them as part of a fest. So here we are. A documentery about a celebrity crack-head and hard core porn aren't exactly the kind of things you'll find in your local bijiu, would it?

We've also got a slightly more mainstream story...

TV Junkie

A Documentary Directed by
Michael Cain and Matt Radecki

Rick Kirkham was both a nationally syndicated TV journalist ("Inside Edition,") and a crack addict. He also recorded pretty much everything he ever did with amateur video cameras, and that in itself was a tale to tell.

Cain and Radiecki took thousands of hours of his video ramblings and confessionals to produces a heartbreaking tale of woe, as he went from being a dancer on “American Bandstand” to local TV reporter to national celebrity to a physical and mental wreck, as well as wife-beater and drug addict. This is not a fun picture to watch, it’s more like a train-wreck, and a warning for those of us who can’t actually turn away from stuff like that.


Produced by
Neville Wakefield
and Mel Agace

A number of years back, producers asked a number of famous “artistic” directors to do a cinematic critique of the phenomenon of pornography and it’s omnipresence in the American culture. Exactly what Wakefield and Agace wanted isn’t made clear in this festival of shorts, but it’s quite clear that they didn’t actually get it. There is really no critique of porn here, just porn.


Written and Directed
By Matthew Barney

We begin with a ten minute prologue where we watch a man’s uncircumcised penis get hard, then we travel to Brazil where a giant truck is hoisted into the air. Barney very nicely digitally obscures the faces of the workers doing the heavy lifting.

The main part of the film is a fellow with gourds stuck up his ass and in his mouth, in a tribute to Barney’s “Cremaster 3,” and we watch him basically have sex with the universal joint of the giant machine.

Like most of Barney’s work, the film is hideously expensive and completely obtuse. Which is basically what the entire “festival” is about. IK.

House Call

Written and Directed
By Richard Prince

Good old fashioned ‘70s porn given a digital makeover (which makes it look even worse) and an annoying soundtrack.

The plot is typical of the original genre, a doctor and a patient have sex. YAWN! A complete waste of time and money, although it’s not the worst of the bunch, which is probably Gaspar Noe’s crap.


Written and Directed
By Larry Clark

Clark put an ad on an internet porn site, and filmed the various male applicants give their opinions on the business and why they want to get into it. The winner gets to interview the female applicants, all of which are quite experienced.

The winner is a 40-year-old chanteuse who seems really frisky, Then they fuck. This is very funny although I don’t think Clark intended it that way.


Written and Directed
By Marco Brambilla

This is one of the better films in the series. We’ve got Bramilla editing what seems like seven hundred porn films together in an extremely quick paced three-minute montage. It’s visually interesting and makes the point, whatever that is, quite nicely.

Onan: Death Valley

Written and Directed
By Sam Taylor-Wood

Man masturbates in the middle of the desert. That’s it. He doesn’t even cum. We get it. Men masturbating is boring.

Balkan Erotic Epic

Written and Directed
By Marina Abramovic

This is the only really good short of the bunch. A filthy Monty Pythonesque look into the pagan sex folklore of the Balkans, we get lots of bawdy jokes with men fucking bridges to make the crops grow, and traditionally clad women exposing themselves in order to placate nature and keep everything fertile. If only the rest of the bunch were this good.

We Fuck Alone

Written and Directed
By Gaspar Noe

A young Hitler look-alike watches port on the video while he masturbates with a blow-up doll while in another room a woman covers her snatch with a large teddy bear while she does it. Noe uses grainy video and a stroboscopic effect, which makes watching the film pretty nigh impossible. This is truly ugly.


Written and Directed
By Paul Fitzgerald

The death penalty has been controversial for over a century now, and the question of the possibility of an innocent person getting “put to sleep” has been always been the driving force of activists on the subject. The question here is whether or not one can be even handed about it.

Well in his vanity project, actor Paul Fitzgerald gives it that good college try, and he almost manages to get away with it. Almost.

Fitzgerald plays Peter Miles a DA in a small North Carolina city who’s about to make it into the big time. He’s just about the perfect person to make it big in politics. He has the perfect wife(Susan Floyd), a wonderful kid(Cooper Agar) and a newly found faith in Jesus which gives him moral certitude. The powers that be want him in the US Senate, and so does he.

Therefore he must be destroyed.

The instrument of that destruction is Ronald Bradler(Russell Hornsby), a convicted murderer who’s on the gurney for a lethal injection and the needle is already in his arm when the Governor calls with a pardon. Apparently the defense was incompetent and the main witness later recanted but Peter didn’t do anything to exonerate him.

So Peter’s people leak to the press that Ronald was convicted of a felony long before. This makes him unemployable. So unable to get his life back together, he decides to make Peter pay.

This revenge fantasy would be more satisfying if Fitzgerald wasn’t of two minds about it. In order to make it actually satisfying, we need to make the difference between hero and villain more stark, Fitzgerald tries to make Peter be “inadvertently” evil, and has his black campaign manager tell him he might be racist.

No. Too clunky. The character of Ronald’s lawyer Jamie(Kate Jennings Grant) is really muddled. While she’s supposed to be on the side of the angels, her actions near the end of the film are so hateful that it ruins Fitzgerald’s whole argument.

If you’re going to have a revenge fantasy, make it more fantasy. Otherwise you get an ambivalent mess like this one.


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