Sundance Diary: Day Two

Lulu And Jimi, William Kunstler: Disturbing The Universe, The Clone Returns Home. Plus Herzog vs. The Hoff.

by Amber Wilkinson and Tony Sullivan

Despite what Festival director said about ticket sales being up this year there is no doubt at all that there are fewer people around in general - although the public screenings do seem to be pretty full. In general everything feels lower key - and this is, in many ways, no bad thing. The buses are less packed, it's possible to walk down Park City's Main Street without being trampled and people are most definitely talking about the films on show a lot more than the parties.

I day two in a happy way with a press screening of Lulu And Jimi (Lulu Und Jimi) - which has been scooping lots of prizes in its homeland, Germany, as well as the FIPRESCI critics award for best film. It is surprising, perhaps, then that it stars former Corrie/Doctors actor Ray Fearon alongside fantastic German actress Jennifer Decker and is performed in a mix of English and German. It's 1959, and Lulu is being groomed by her overbearing, sinister mother to marry the local industrialist's son. Lulu, however, is a rebel at heart and has other ideas, especially after meeting Fearon's itinerant Jimi at the local fairground. Despite their different worlds - he an American with a troubled past, she white and well-heeled, they fall instantly in love, but do elopement and happiness beckon, or are they doomed thanks to Lulu's mother's evil plotting?

Fiercely redolent of David Lynch's Wild At Heart, this is an extravaganza of energy and magic realism. Lulu and Jimi's mother, in particular, recalls the madness of Diane Ladd with her almost insane desire to keep her daughter away from "the nigger" at all costs and her involvement in her own husband's decline. Director Oscar Roehler makes the scenery sizzle in vibrant colours and keeps the audience on their toes by switching from the candy floss world of love's young dream to darker waters when you least expect it. At its heart this has those age-old themes of love conquering all and good triumphing over evil, and it is none the worse for that. Plus Fearon seems to shed his shirt virtually every other scene - which can never be a bad thing. This is definitely the sort of film that could easily win over the hearts of audiences as well as critics.

Meanwhile, Tony caught a screening of William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe last night. Although unlikely to darken UK shores, this is a revealing biography of lawyer William Kunstler, who drew the wrath of a nation by representing the likes of the Chicago 8 and the Native Americans who occupied Broken Knee and tried to negotiate on behalf of the Attica Prisoners who had comandeered their prison. The documentary was made by Kunstler's daughters who seem to be trying to understand their own father, who courted controversy and put himself and his family in danger.

First film for day two was The Clone Returns Home, an existential science fiction tale concerning a astronaut who consents to allow clones of himself as replacements should he be involved in a fatality. Further emotional complications ensue as our hero lost his twin brother while a child. Director Kanji Nakajima was on hand to suggest that he wants the audience to make their own interpretations of the events that unfold. Following Andrei Tarkovsky's footsteps, the film was fascinatingly obscure, but alas, also a trifle dull. Director Kanji Nakajima, hot from a luncheon with Robert Redford, was on hand for an existential Q & A following the showing. Nakajima said that he wished to hear the audience's interpretation of the film and refused to be drawn himself, although he did allude to some Buddhist philosophy. This led to speculative questions from the audience pondering the deeper significance of mist effects. I was hit with the desire to enquire 'is it bigger than a breadbox?'.

During the course of the day I espied Werner Herzog boarding a bus, and another bus I was on was almost capsized when some one claimed to have spotted David Hasselhoff causing a stampede to the windows. I'm sure the 'Hoff would be pleased to know he's more of a draw than the director of Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man. The bus driver then began passing on 'Hoff trivia such as a certain youtube video had been downloaded '27 million times.

Amber writes... After spending much of the afternoon writing, we headed up to Main Street to soak up the atmosphere - which is how we know there are lot fewer folk around this year. We even managed to get into a few of the stores. Park City seems to have the world's cutest supply of cuddly moose... it also has several shops stocking coats made from the fur of animals I can only guess at. I also suspect the fur looked better on its original wearer. Still, among the knick-knacks hard to resit were instant snow and boxer shorts - with moose, of course - bearing the slogan 'gluteous maximoose'.

Then, it was a quick bus ride back to the press screening venues to catch Rudo Y Cursi. Director Carlos Cuaron reunites Y Tu Mama Tambien's Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in this broad comedy about two brothers, who are constantly sparring with each other. When a football scout spots them and helps them to the big time, it only serves to fuel their comedy rivalry. Amusing throughout and with a particularly hilarious segment in which Bernal sings I Want You To Want Me in a bad pop video, this Mexican romp has a certain charm. Although not particularly memorable, it was certainly an amiable enough way to spend the evening. .

I was the lucky one, since Tony copped for The Greatest - the title of which is surely only asking for trouble. He writes... A family tries to come to terms with their grief after their son is killed in a car accident, which is complicated further when the son's three-month pregnant and homeless girlfriend arrives on their doorstep. The film plays the emotions as you'd expect. Great performances from the youthful cast, particularly Carey Mulligan as the girlfriend and Johnny Simmons as the second banana son whose sense of humour thins the treacle. Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon do their best as the angst ridden parents but, I'm sorry, I have a hard time watching an ex-James Bond cry. Come on, pull yourself together, man, you wouldn't see Sean Connery doing that... you'll be singing Abba songs next.

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