What I Have Watched in Park City Thus Far
Before everything starts to blur together, here are my capsule thoughts on what I’ve seen over the past couple of days at Sundance:
Mary and Max (written and directed by Adam Elliot): this is an animated film that Sundance chose as its opener. While introducing the film, the director said that it was loosely based on his correspondence with a pen pal, and it took him 5 years to complete the movie (It’s all claymation, a process which the director described as, “Like having sex while being stabbed to death”).
While I found the craft of claymation itself to be amazing (each time a fly buzzed, I said wow, and was impressed by falling drops of rain on windows), I don’t know if I would see this movie in wide release. It was simply TOO DARK. Then again, Philip Seymour Hoffman was the voice of Max, so this isn’t all too surprising.*
Thriller in Manila (Director: John Dower): Ever since When We Were Kings, I have loved boxing documentaries (even though I’m currently skipping the afternoon screening of Tyson, about everyone’s favorite ear biter). This is the perfect companion documentary to When We Were Kings, because it operates as a revisionist retelling of the Mohammed Ali myth. It focused on the third and final fight in 1975 between Ali and Fighting Joe Frazier, and is told from Frazier’s point of view. These following parts struck me the most:
- I’m not sure which interviewee put out the following thought, but I think it was Ali’s doctor, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco (who was the most colorful interviewee by far). He said that dictators needed boxing matches to distract the world from the fighting, and abuses, and the poor, and general chaos of their countries. This explains why Mugabe paid to have Ali fight Foreman in Zaire and 1974, and why the Marcos’ regime paid $10 million for this fight in 1975.
- It was striking to see the contrast between how Frazier’s fortune$ fared compared to Ali and Foreman. Frazier now lives in a studio, which he dubbed “the dungeon,” behind his boxing studio, in a poor neighborhood in Philly. Because Ali licensed out his name and likeness to everything and Foreman has his grill, it’s interesting to see an old boxer who hasn’t sold out in the same way.
- Imelda Marcos still had jokes about her legendary shoe collection, “They looked in my closet for skeletons, but all they found were shoes…and art…and beauty.”
This will be shown on HBO in April, and I highly recommend it as a double feature with When We Were Kings.
Lulu and Jimi (Oskar Roehler): This was the most fun of the movies that I have watched so far, but at moments to veered into being so cheesy, I can see how it could turn some of the audience off (I just decided that the cheesiness went far enough to veer into the camp zone). I went in thinking that it would be a serious drama about an interracial couple (Lulu is the the daughter of rich industrialists, Jimi is an orphan of a Black American GI and a German woman) in late 50’s Germany, but instead, it was a candy colored comedy, with surprising moments of B-movie Tarantino type violence. One of things that added to the B-movie quality of Lulu and Jimi was the fact that they chose a French actress to play Lulu and both her German and English lines were dubbed into English.
*Post on PSH to follow sometime shortly since I’ve unintentionally seen all of his new stuff lately (Doubt and Synecdoche New York)
**I don’t care about celeb spottings, but I will say, this is the highest concentration of attractive people that I’ve seen in one place in a long time.
***I watched a set of shorts too, but I don’t have the energy to blog about them now, if, ever.