The enclave of American independent cinema is also a welcome haven for waifs and strays from around the world. Almost all the films in this year’s international competition have a scrappy air about them, whether it’s Greenland making its first foray into feature production or an award-winning performance from an actor with Down’s Syndrome. Other films of note include a punk take on Poland’s last quarter century, an Argentine pissing match that gets out of control, and Chris Morris’s eagerly anticipated Four Lions.
Where’s this from then? Poland. It’s about the country’s changing political fortunes, as seen through a young punk band.
I love a good musical. Well, this looks like it’s heavy on the interpersonal relationships. The four members of the band cross class lines. A pair of brothers are the sons of a navy man, while another is a member of the country’s upper class.
Wonder who the Pete Shelley of the group is. Any Nazis? There might be a few swastikas, but only in the ironic sense.
See also: DiG!
Strewth, mate! You’ve obviously heard that this is from Australia.
Any sharks on the barbie? You might not recognize this part of down under if all you know about Australia is Kylie and Mental as Anything. It’s about a Melbourne teen torn between his family’s criminal involvement and the straight and narrow. Detective Guy Pearce reaches out to help him.
Mike from Neighbours! And one of our best actors, having given sterling performances in L.A. Confidential, Memento, and even Bedtime Stories.
See also: How to Recognize Your Saints
Strewth, mate! Can you knock that off? This is a Maori coming of age tale.
See also: Once Were Warriors. Nope, instead of gritty urban misery, writer-director-star Taika Waititi has fashioned a rainbow-bright story set during the 1980s.
So lots of Maoris in legwarmers, then. Not quite. Boy is Michael Jackson-loving kid who grows up on his grandma’s farm. Then his rogueish dad shows up out of the blue, looking for the treasure he buried years earlier.
Sh-mo! Expect this one to be a real crowd-pleaser. Waititi also directed Eagle vs. Shark.
Where’s this from then? First-time director Lim Woo-seong’s film comes from South Korea.
I saw Oldboy. They eat live squid there. Not in this film. Housewife Chea Min-seo becomes repulsed by meat after a series of nightmares. She embraces a new lifestyle, but it doesn’t sit well with her family.
Like my habit of picking my toenails. A little like that, yes. Chea manages to overcome her isolation with the help of an artist brother-in-law and nude bodypainting.
See also: Safe
Where’s this from then? This is the latest bulletin from Chris Morris, one of England’s greatest satirists.
The Day Today, Brass Eye. I know the man. Morris is no stranger to controversy. He raised Mail readers’ hackles with a spoof on paedophilia.
You can’t really go any further than that. How does the story of four incompetent British jihadis grab you?
Blimey. I thought this was a comedy. Well, you could argue that bumbling Brit-based terrorists are a little too close to the truth. But if anybody can see through the media smokescreen of fear, it’s Morris.
See also: The Power of Nightmares
Any relation to The Man Who Knew Too Much? Don’t think so. This man is about to shatter his neighbor’s bourgeois existence. And all he wants to do is put in a window.
Good fences make good neighbors. Good point. The guy’s plan doesn’t sit well with his uptight guy across the way, whose house is a modernist white cube.
I’m guessing this isn’t something the courts can settle. Well if they did, then Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat’s Argentine social satire wouldn’t be nearly as wicked.
See also: Lakeview Terrace
Where’s this from, then? Greenland.
I didn’t even know they had a film industry. Well, Nuummioq is billed as the country’s first feature film.
Sounds cold. I might bring my muffler. Well, it doesn’t look like a warm place, that’s for sure. Nuummioq is about a 30-something cancer patient who must choose between dying in his hometown or get treated. He makes his decision while on a boat trip masquerading as a “last hurrah.”
I liked this better when it was called The Bucket List. They didn’t drink this hard in The Bucket List.
So is this the first film from San Marino? Try a little further east – Estonia, which has given us great films like Darkness at Tallinn.
Who’s St. Tony? Tony is a worker drone who starts questioning his role in life. That questioning leads him to make a Faustian deal.
Those never really work out. No. His life spins out of control in a style only former members of the Soviet bloc truly master. Director Veiko Ounpuu has pulled off some stunning visual coups, including a mist-shrouded ice rink and strip-club MCs eating chicken.
With their mouths open? But, of course.
Where’s this from, then? Iraq.
Oh no! All those documentaries made my head hurt. Audiences who like to learn more about the world around them will think differently.
Is there a kid? There’s always a kid. Yes, there is. A young boy searches for his MIA soldier father in post-Saddam Iraq.
Is there an old woman? There’s usually an old woman. Yes, his stubborn grandmother is along for the ride.
Works every time. Well, it wouldn’t be Sundance without one.
From Spain! Where’s Penelope Cruz? La Cruz is sitting this one out, but star Lola Duenas was also in Volver … and very good in it, too.
So what happens? A man with Down’s syndrome gets a new lease on life through a happy-go-lucky co-worker.
You can guess what I’m going to say next. Mention I Am Sam and there might be blood on the keyboard. Pablo Pineda won a Silver Seashell for his performance at last year’s San Sebastian Film Festival. Only a fool would bet against him being the toast of Park City.
Tags: All That I Love, Alvaro Pastor, Angunnguaq Larsen, Animal Kingdom, Antonio Naharro, Ben Mendelsohn, Boy, Chaesikjuujia, Chea Min-seo, Chris Morris, Chris Wilson, Daniel Araoz, David Michod, El Hombre de la Lado, Four Lions, Gaston Duprat, Guy Pearce, Jacek Borcuch, Jakub Gierszal, James Rolleston, Kevin Eldon, Kim Hyun-sung, Lars Rosing, Lim Woo-seong, Lola Duenas, Mariano Cohn, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Me Too, Mohamed al Daradji, Nuummioq, Otto Rosing, Pablo Pineda, Püha Tõnu kiusamine, Rafael Spregelburd, Rain Tolk, Shazda Hussein, Son of Babylon, Sundance Film Festival, Taavi Eelmaa, Taika Waititi, Te Aho Eketone, The Man Next Door, The Temptation of St. Tony, Torben Bech, Vegetarian, Veiko Ounpuu, Wszystko co kocham, Yasser Talib, Yo Tambien