Day 4: Monday, January 21, 2008

Posted January 23, 2008 in
What's that thing that people have where they perform various tasks and in exchange are rewarded with some type of currency? Oh yeah, a job! Since I had prior obligations with mine, Monday was quite a slow day at Sundance for me. I managed to make it to a screening in the wonderful construction nightmare that is downtown Salt Lake City. On a side note, why is it that whenever you're in a rush to get somewhere in SLC, you manage to hit every stop light along the way? It literally took me 15 minutes to drive 6 blocks. It's some type of conspiracy.

Film: American Teen

Director: Nanette Burstein

Venue: Broadway Theatre - Salt Lake City, Utah

Rating: 1 out of 5 copies of The Breakfast Club

Photo Caption: Film Still from American Teen

I made it through the Broadway Theatres' doors in the nick of time to catch the documentary, American Teen. Before I choose to screen this movie, I had wanted to see two others in Park City, but, again, my other occupation had arrangements that prevented me from doing so. So there I am, about to watch a film about the trails and tribulations of being an American teen at 17...I have a bad feeling about this. Before the film began to screen before a sold-out audience, ushers continued to find empty seats that had thought to be once filled. Did other patrons discover something I hadn't? Did someone make a call to Miss Cleo and was told to leave immediately?

Nanette Burstein's film follows the lives of four teenagers. Let's look at them individually:

Hannah: (a.k.a. The Artsy One): Hannah doesn't fit in any click, and she wants to get far away from Indiana by moving to original. Her boyfriend dumps her after having sex. Later, she falls for a jock, when he eventually discovers they can't date anymore cause they're just too different.

*For future reference, see the film She's All That.

Megan: (a.k.a. The Rich Bitch): Megan is the most popular girl in school. She verbally abuses those not up to her level of coolness. The majority of her family went to Notre Dame, so, of course, she must go as well (The moment she mentioned she wanted to get into Notre Dame, I began praying that she wouldn't).

*For future reference, see every high school movie ever created.

Collin: (a.k.a. The Jock): Collin is the most popular boy in school and the captain of the basketball team. His father is an Elvis impersonator (ok, that was funny). He dreams of being in the NBA, but if he falls short of impressing a college recruiter, it's off to the military for good ol' Collin.

*For future reference, see another athlete...A.C. Slater

Jake: (a.k.a. The Nerd): Jake is the geek that no one will talk to, and he doesn't know why. Could it be his acne? How about because he's in the marching band? It might be the fact that his bedroom is filled top to bottom with a collection of dead animals. Just taking a wild shot there. But Jake is actually quite funny (he basically adds the only element of entertainment to the film). The highlight of the documentary is Jake visiting his older brother and their wild trip to Mexico.

For future reference, see Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love (it's much better than part three).

The main problem with Burstein's film is that nothing new or exhilarating is ever captured. She could have pointed the camera at a television playing The Breakfast Club, and get the same emotional perspective...actually any teen movie for that matter. There's even a scene where a nude photograph of a fellow classmate is emailed to every student in order to embarrass her (i.e. American Pie). The animation sequences of the students' dreams and aspirations were the only visual components that made the film standout, but it's totally running was under five minutes...not enough to carry the remaining 90.

Why am I not surprised that there will be a sequel entitled Saved by the...I mean, American Teen: The New Class. I just hope Screech returns. Now, where's that number for Miss Cleo?

—Jimmy Martin

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Film: Adventures of Power

Director: Ari Gold

Venue: Redstone Theaters - Park City, Utah

Rating: 4 out of 5 Invisible drumsticks

(Photo Caption: Film Still from Adventures of Power)

In a nutshell, Adventures of Power, could very well be the twisted love child of Napoleon Dynamite, the arcade game Drumscape and the band Rush. The story follows the life of Power, a mineworker from Load, New Mexico, who loves air drumming. The majority of the town ridicules Power, for his strange hobby and the fact that he just doesn't really fit in. After participating in an underground air-drum off in Mexico, Power is spotted for his talent and given the chance to go to Newark, NJ where he will be trained in the art and science that is air drumming.

The real gem of this film isn't the narrative itself, but rather the character development and the music that the film is set too. Each character that Power encounters throughout his journey is just as colorful as he is. From the armless air-drumming coach, his deaf girlfriend, his angry feminist aunt and his surly father, sometimes the characters seem cliché, but these aspects of their personalities make them all the more interesting. Adventures of Power also features many original songs to which the story is set. Ethan Gold, the twin brother of Ari Gold (who directed, wrote and stars in the film) composed the music to fit the movie like a glove.

Throughout the 96-minute film, the audience often erupted in laughter. Adventures of Power, may not be a "message-film", but its cute and stupid fun, which is good enough for me.

–Jeanette Moses