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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sundance Film Festival 2008: Things NOT to see

Otto; or Up with Dead People

Don't see this movie unless you are into graphic and explicit gay zombie porn. You have been warned.

This movie is a perfect example of why Sundance really needs to work on putting out more telling synopses in their film guide booklets. This has been a problem for a long time: When I was maybe 8 or so, my parents took me and my brother up to Sundance to watch Kevin Smith's Clerks. Imagine their horror and embarrassment at having exposed their kids to such an adult movie! Luckily, at least on my part, I was too young to really understand most of what I was seeing. It wasn't until I re-watched the film in college that I was a little shocked at the adult nature of the film. (For the record, I love Kevin Smith's movies.) But at least Clerks was discreet enough that a little kid like me didn't understand what she was seeing.

Otto, on the other hand, oh boy... there's no way a kid wouldn't understand seeing a dozen zombie penises engaged in explicit gay zombie sex. If only the catalog had characterized this film as an explicit gay zombie porno, I would have passed it by. Instead, I had to ask myself: "Did I stay up past midnight on a weeknight and pay $15 a ticket for THIS?"

Ian almost decided not to come to this movie with me, and so I was about to find a friend to bring along. But I am eternally grateful that it was Ian who ended up enduring this film with me instead of one of my friends, because I would have been utterly embarrassed exposing anyone else to this movie.

The movie did have a couple redeeming qualities. One of the characters was always inexplicably filmed as if she were existing in a silent movie, complete with her own soundtrack and speech screens if she ever talked. That was interesting. Another character made a good joke about not being able to think of a better use for a football field other than filling it with garbage (you had to see it).

But other than that, the movie was off-putting, discordant, and cacophonous.

Update: One of my awesome readers, Feed the World with Pez, posted a brilliant comment which gives a much more grounded response to the film, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share it here:

"Not a film for the masses for sure. I felt however, that the movie had its place as a political/art film.

It basically was a mish-mash of every film genre. Horror, art, documentary, melodrama, action, war, porn, sci-fi, reality and even silent (and others I probably didn't include). So with regards to the artistic view (necrophilic gay porn aside) it was actually rather brilliant. It is definitely an abrasive film directed to stir up controversy. Touching on many societal issues.

I would have enjoyed it better if Otto would have come to the realization that he wasn't a real zombie. The film does allude to this but doesn't clarify it enough.

One thing to keep in mind about Sundance is that the films are unrated. So you never know what to expect."

-Feed the World with Pez



Animation Showcase

I was likewise very disappointed in the collection of animation shorts. The first short showed some real promise. The visually appealing animation style of the first short was akin to the old Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer stop-animation style, but with new twists, like real filmed eyes. The story was very interesting, but the ending fell flat. It was almost a very good short animated film, but wasn't quite there.

It was all downhill from there as the rest of the showcase stunk. I've seen better animations done by amateurs using Flash on the internet. Most of the films used actual footage that was manipulated into a pseudo-animation, which I personally think is unoriginal and kind of cheating if you want to call your movie animation. I felt that a lot of the films belonged in a frontier-short category, because weird for the sake of weird seemed to be a valued quality in most of the films. I don't care how twisted the film-maker's mind is, I want good stories and good animation!

Also, the Broadway played this showcase so loud that I had to keep my fingers in my ears for most of the show. Not really the fault of the film, but it only added to my agony.

I don't recommend paying the overinflated ticket price for this showcase, but I'd still recommend this one over Otto. Still, you have been warned.

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5 comments:

Sovknight said...

Unfortunately, it seems Sundance this year is almost a bust. For me, at least. I've been through the program guide a dozen times and I just can't decide on anything that really peaks my interest. I hate to say that, but nothing stands out to me. Of course, hindsight is always a factor with Sundance. Next year sometime, one of the movies that's up there right now will be the "it" movie, and I'll kick myself for not going up and seeing it. Happens every year. Question is, which movie is it?

You watched zombie porn? Do zombies even have a sex drive? For that matter, wouldn't genitalia be one of the first things to go from a rotting corpse? Interesting selection.

Sra said...

It really is more difficult to choose this year. It's either the fault of the selection committee for choosing crap films, or the brochure writers for writing uncompelling synopses. I'm not sure which.

I didn't know it was going to be zombie porn. I thought it was going to be a zombie comedy like last year's Fido, or like Shaun of the Dead. I don't even want to think about those damn zombie penises anymore, so let's just try to forget the whole thing happened.

Excuse me, I have to rock myself in the corner...

tennessee mike said...

I've never understood why Sundance movies have to be twice the price of regular movies. Independent music doesn't cost twice as much as corporate music, does it?

Speaking of corporate music...U2:3D, I'm definitely down with that. It came out in the IMAX 3D theater here today; I'm quite stoked.

feed the world with PEZ said...

Not a film for the masses for sure. I felt however, that the movie had its place as a political/art film.

It basically was a mish-mash of every film genre. Horror, art, documentary, melodrama, action, war, porn, sci-fi, reality and even silent (and others I probably didn't include). So with regards to the artistic view (necrophilic gay porn aside) it was actually rather brilliant. It is definitely an abrasive film directed to stir up controversy. Touching on many societal issues.

I would have enjoyed it better if Otto would have come to the realization that he wasn't a real zombie. The film does allude to this but doesn't clarify it enough.

One thing to keep in mind about Sundance is that the films are unrated. So you never know what to expect.

Sra said...

To Pez:
Your comment puts my post to shame. I agree with everything you have said. My problem is I couldn't get past the porn. It was too much. It's not the sex that bothers me; if that were the case, I wouldn't have put Shortbus on my Bunsnip Best Movies of 2007 list. It was the nature of the sex, and I think you're right that the film in general was designed to be uncomfortable, but for me, it was too much for me even to be able see the merit in the movie. But you have done that, so thank you for your comment.


To Mike:
I think indie films are more expensive than indie music because it is rich and trendy people who are into the films - it's one of those high society things. For indie music, it's usually punk kids who are into it, and we all know punk kids are broke. That's my guess anyway.

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