Sundance Diary: Day Five

Sin Nombre, The Winning Season, The Informers, Bronson, Earth Days and The End Of The Line.

by Amber Wilkinson

The fact that there was a small inauguration ceremony this morning, meant that events on small screens across the world took precedence over those on the big screens in Park City. Barack Obama's inauguration was beamed onto screens in Main Street, where there was a general wave of cheering and crying.

Back at the screening rooms, Mexican-set drama Sin Nombre more or less lived up to the hype it's been getting all week. A girl, her father and brother who are aiming to travel from Honduras and cross the border by hook or by crook into the States, find themselves in hot water after their path crosses that of a gang member, fleeing his former troupe on pain of death. Mixing the violent thriller aspects of the likes of The City Of God and Tsotsi, with much more human drama elements, more familiar to indie audiences, the film takes a while to set up its characters and get going, but once it does it builds to a gripping finale.

Next up was The Winning Season, watched in a cinema seemingly packed to the brim with Lionsgate bigwigs (the company later bought the film, more fool them). I counted at least six but am reliably informed there were 12 of them, a positive Lionsgate den, then. The Winning Season is on to a losing formula. Attempting to combine the tropes of a high school losing team making it big, with something much more indie, it pulls itself apart in the process. Rockwell is the washed up coach with, of course, a drink problem, who must take a girl's basketball team to success while attempting to patch his rocky relationship with his daughter. With its combo of sweary word scripting, downbeat indie relationship drama and dreadfully broad attempts at comedy, even the ever-reliable Rockwell can't save this.

It was fair to say that after that I felt like a drink, so went along to the UK Film Council bash. Moon director Duncan Jones was in attendance, and Ma Bar directors Adrian McDowell and Finlay Pretsell. Arranged to interview them tomorrow.

Tony meanwhile checked out a veritable slew of films. He writes...The Informers is Bret Easton Ellis' tale of the 80s sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll culture focusing on three vaguely interweaving tales. Despite everyone having a good time, all the time, nothing good happens. The Rourke (as in Mickey Rourke) just has to poke his head round a door to steal the movie.

As everyone involved is too throughly self-centered to realise that their world is imploding it is difficult to have any sympathy for anyone.

The day of heavy films continued with Bronson, the sorry tale of total bastard, Michael Peterson who reinvented himself as Charles Bronson for bare-knuckle brawling purposes. Guilty of minor thuggery in his brief sojourns in society, he has spent 34 years institutionalised with no sign of further reprieve. Why? Because this guy is always spoiling for a fight. With anyone. Anywhere.

Tom Hardy brings an energy to the character like a kick in the bollocks making making all other movie hard men look as though they belong on the Muppet Show. A phenomenal performance, and I will now forgive him for being too weenie in the last Star Trek movie.

Thoroughly disturbing and powerful, we had one presumably hardened press personage, chunder in the aisle. I'm not sure if we are supposed to feel sorry for Bronson or not - I certainly don't and as to the brutality of the system that creates and enhances such a creature - well, in this case they may have a point.


Earth Days, meanwhile, is an eco-friendly documentary focusing on nine Americans who have done their bit to further the cause and along the way celebrate early activist, Rachel Carson.

Worthy, but preaching to the choir, with cutesy Fifties footage and more pertinent 70s imagery which proves we've progressed not a jot since the energy crisis of that era.

Finished the day with documentary, End Of The Line another eco-motivated doc. This one champions the fish in our oceans, a resource we are gourmandising to extinction. Apparently Mitsubishi are one of the big villains of the piece, and I shall now feel guilty everytime I climb into my Galant. Oddly Bird's Eye and Wal-Mart now number among the good guys as they only fish 'sustainable sources'.

We were initially intending to see Black Dynamite - a blaxploitation film which sold to Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group for around $2 milllion. Starting to feel film festival fatigue now, and knocked off early.

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