By: Devin Ezaki
Throughout my few days at Sundance I’ve found a handful of movies I’ve enjoyed. My favorite so far has been Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I barely made it into the premiere on Sunday the 25th and I’m so glad I did. It was honest, comical, and emotionally driven. The film had the perfect amount of indie-ness for me. It handled the serious issue of death, but also had a very lighthearted quality. It appeared to hit an emotional place for many people in the audience. The middle-aged gentleman next to me even sniffled quite a bit. I wish I had a tissue to give him. I may be making a big statement, but I may even consider this film one of my favorite movies I’ve seen in a while. So special shout out to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! Go see it! I can’t wait for it to come out in theaters!
Besides this amazing film, I’ve also seen a few that might have been a little too out there for me, specifically The Tribe and H. There were elements that I liked, but also some parts I couldn’t handle.
The Tribe, a movie about teenage prostitution in a school for the deaf, was done completely in sign language with no subtitles. Going into the movie I thought the lack of subtitles would be the biggest issue for me, but it wasn’t. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how powerful the actors’ body language was. You could tell so much about their feelings based on how they signed, with their signing ranging from a more gentle quality, all the way to gestures with greater intensity. The part I had a harder time digesting was how graphic the film was. (spoiler alert) Although there was a very realistic sex scene, this wasn’t what I had an issue with. I was disturbed by how brutal some of the beatings were, as well as how emotionally painful other sections were. The abortion and rape scenes were very hard to watch. These more brutal scenes reminded me of how difficult it is to watch Schindler’s List. I’ve never seen so many people walk out of a movie early. I think the movie did its job in portraying a controversial lifestyle and community. It was not a bad movie, but the content was just very overwhelming.
H. was a sci-fi film about two women, both named Helen, who live in a town that experiences an unexplainable supernatural event. I felt engaged through the majority of this film because of the characters. The older Helen would be considered a “crazy” person, while the younger Helen was an artist who thought she was pregnant, but after the event finds out she wasn’t. I really felt for these women and their struggles, which kept me very interested. This film also had strong sound choice that really added to the mood of each scene. I will definitely be looking those musicians up later. Yet even with these wonderful elements, I could not take one scene seriously, which ended up making the rest of the movie less enjoyable. There was a dream sequence that almost made me laugh. I just could not handle how strange it was. To be honest, I was completely with the movie up until here. I believe the idea was good, but the overall execution of this one scene just didn’t cut it for me. Maybe I’d understand it more if I gave the film another chance.
I cannot say these two movies were flops because they did have some innovative ideas and qualities. Will I watch The Tribe again? Probably not. It was an interesting concept, but just not my cup of tea. I don’t want to witness the brutality of the film again. Will I watch H. again? Possibly. Its not something I’m dying to see right now, but I am curious to see if there is anything I missed that could have explained the dream sequence. I think I’m starting to get a better understanding of the range of indie-ness at Sundance. I’m always open to seeing something a little different. It’s all part of the experience. I am looking forward to seeing more films in the second part of the festival!