Before I write anything else about 'Don Jon': yes, there are some guys in Northern New Jersey who really do act this way. Some of the particulars are exaggerated, but not really. Whether the interior life of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's protagonist gym rat, club denizen, muscle car driver is accurate is something I'll never know, and considering the emotional dysfunction on display, I think I'm okay with it.
2013 Sundance Film Festival
Nobody asked for this movie. But someone was going to make it. I'm just glad it was Matthew Johnson, a young (but not as young as he looks!) Canadian director/co-writer/co-star who has the chutzpah to take on a really difficult subject and the chops to deliver without coming off as crass or exploitative. There are plenty who will refuse to give 'The Dirties' the time of day, and that's somewhat understandable, but if you believe that, in order to correct a problem it must first be discussed, 'The Dirties' is, I feel, a noble mix of entertainment and social importance.
I have a theory that I should probably run by an evolutionary psychologist (an actual field of study). I think we have so many people with emotional problems because our brains have not yet adapted our early fight-or-flight responses to the conditions of the modern world. This disconnect between the biological and the environmental is, in my extremely uninformed opinion, why you have people who crack on the Maury Povich show when they see balloons or something.
We can act like tough guys if we want, but we all experience irrational paranoia. Not all of us collapse like Juno Temple's Alicia in Sebastian Silver's quite extraordinary film workout 'Magic Magic.' The film opens with young Temple visiting her cousin (Emily Browning) and her cousin's friends in Chile. It's her first time out of the country, and her shyness and inexperience manifests in odd ways. (I've never seen someone shower in such a unique position before.)
Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in 'In a World...,' and if she's anything like the character she created, I can tell that she's a good person. That's why it pains me to ultimately dismiss her (allegedly) quirky comedy that debuted at this year's Sundance. I like her, I'd be down to hang out in the world she's created, I'm just not interested in watching this convention-driven film version of this story.
Amanda Seyfried appears nude in 'Lovelace' - this we pretty much knew, considering it's a biopic based on the life of legendary adult film star Linda Lovelace. While some audience members at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival premiere were taken aback by the nudity, Seyfried herself didn't think much of it and spoke out about any potential controversy.
For some psychotic reason my parents showed me '2001: A Space Odyssey' when I was around ten. Ever since, I've been chasing that dragon. I've been looking for someone to use the powerful tools of cinema to show me - not tell me - something important about the Universe and have me work to (almost) understand it.
There have been times that have come close - Godfrey Reggio's 'Koyaanisqatsi' probably closest, with 'Eraserhead' and 'Enter the Void' in there, too. I'll need to see Shane Carruth's 'Upstream Color' again, but it may belong on this short list. Almost everyone who watches 'Upstream Color' will come out of it saying "I need to see that again."
There are few feature filmmakers harder to pin down than David Gordon Green. He was among the first to be branded "Malick-esque" with his dreamy character drama 'George Washington' in 2000. He later dovetailed into "bro comedies" from the well-received ('Pineapple Express') to the universally reviled ('The Sitter'). There has been other comedy work that I've admired, like his episodes of 'Eastbound & Down' and the under-appreciated 'Your Highness' but it is only with his latest, 'Prince Avalanche,' that he's been able to marry his early, poetic voice with his dark humor.
Total commitment. That's what separates a bulls--- artist from a real one. Andrew Bujalski's strange, surreal and extremely low budget comedy 'Computer Chess' doesn't have all that much in terms of story or strong character arcs, but it more than makes up for this in narrative and production chutzpah. This tale about a cheap hotel conference of early 1980s computer programmers is like a bizarro version of a Christopher Guest film, loaded with deadpan humor and odd tangents. If you can get on its wavelength (and that takes a little work) you may find yourself a champion of this small gem of a picture.