Day of Death

Little Birds

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I didn’t know what to expect before seeing this film. All I know is that I was very hipster/indie looking film about two girls coming of age. Well, that was accurate but what I didn’t know is that it would involve use drugs, sex, and violence. To summarize the film, Lily and Alison were best friends and began to grow apart when Lily found a love interest in L.A. while Alison was simply there as a tag-a-long. Of course, Lily got caught up in the wrong crowd that would steal from others and lived out of an abandoned hotel. They began using Lily to their advantage by getting men from the internet (who wanted to get with a younger girl) to meet up with her and then the boys would proceed to steal the men’s money. At the end, during one of the times Lily is bringing this guy back to the gross abandoned motel room the guy was suspicious and beat up the boys before they could take his money. Then the man wanted to rape Lily but Alison shows up and shoots him unexpectedly before he could harm Lily. That twist in the movie was the best part because it was so unexpected. Other than that, the film was somewhat bland just showing the girls as friends and their rocky relationships with their parents. However, after the Q&A I had much more appreciation for the film. The director, Elgin James, explained to the audience that when he was younger he got caught up in the wrong crowd, did drugs, and was in a gang. He discovered his love for films and Sundance lab gave him a chance to develop his talents and work on Little Birds with him. I think to come from a place like that in your life to having a film at Sundance is remarkable and deserves to be recognized. Two days after seeing Little Birds, Gabby and I saw Elgin on Main St. and he was the most approachable and nicest filmmaker we had spoken to all week. He was not only interested in us talking to him about his film but he wanted to know about us and why we were there and what school we went to. After that encounter I couldn’t help but want to like his film even more. I think he has great potential and I told him I can’t wait to see what he creates in the future.

I Melt with You

I luckily had no problem getting into Little Birds since we bought tickets beforehand. But with I Melt With You, it was another wait list situation. Because it was the world premiere of the film I was a little nervous we wouldn’t get in. I kind of forced Gabby and David to come with me, which I regret doing because we didn’t like it. I wanted to see this film so badly because I’m researching directors of photography at Sundance for my research paper and I read that I Melt with You was unique because it was the first film in the festival shot completely on an HDSLR, a Canon 5D Mark II to be exact. Which is revolutionary and incredible to put a low budget camera on such a big screen. The film looked beautiful, as it should have. I’m a big fan of using these smaller digital cameras, therefore I’m biased towards its looks. It helped that the description of the film seemed like something I’d want to see. It summarized the movie as being about four middle-aged men that were friends since college reuniting once a year to rekindle their friendship. Seems like something that could be cool, right? Wrong! It was cool until they started using cocaine, prescription drugs, and excessive use of alcohol. For 20 minutes of the movie they showed the men each day of their vacation together using these substances with slow motion and cool camera movements, BUT it was way too long. We got the point. These men are going crazy and like to party. Then you learn that the men made a blood-signed pact as college students that if they were not happy with their lives 25 years from then, they would die as one. Well, one of the men took this pact very seriously so the movie began to turn very dark when it cuts to a seen of him hanging in the shower with the water running. The other friends discovered him and were shocked. Of course, after awhile they see the note that he left behind and the audience learns whey he chose to take his own life. Eventually all of the men commit suicide or have one of his friends suffocate him…cheery, right? Not at all. Although we were in the last row in the theater, the speakers were just as loud and just as affectively blaring the emotionally straining soundtrack that really grasped the audience emotion. I will say that this movie did a great job affecting me, I was completely horrified by some of the things I saw on screen and the music really played with my emotions. Although I found this movie very disturbing I would have loved to interview the DP because he was responsible for shooting this entire film with the new DSLR technology. Unfortunately we already had tickets to see Vampire at midnight that evening so we didn’t even have time to stay for the Q&A.

We had less than 15 minutes after I Melt with You to get seated at another theater for Vampire. The volunteers recommended that we walk because it would only take 10 minutes where a bus may take longer getting to the theater and may wait to load it up with people. So we said, “what the heck, we can do this! let’s book it!” We proceeded to discuss how we were all very disturbed by the movie and were a little on edge from witnessing so many suspenseful suicide scenes.

Vampire

We were hoping to see something a little bit more up beat after coming from the depressing I Melt With You. Little did we know, we picked the worst movie at Sundance to pick our spirits back up. Within the first 5 minutes you discover that the main character is a complete freak and is meeting up with this girl that wants to mutually commit suicide with him. He then proceeds to murder her and doesn’t kill himself, by draining all her blood into 4 separate jars. One he then drinks and later throws up. Disgusting. We were not happy about this, we were all looking at each other like, “This cannot be happening.” We then mutually decided to leave the movie after seeing the main character contain his Alzheimer’s mom in her room by permanently strapping huge balloons to her back and then witnessing a scene where one of the vampire’s fellow weirdo friends traps this innocent in a plastic bag to kill her and rape her. I will say though that the best part of what I saw of that movie was when the main character first introduced himself to his victim and she responded saying her name was “jellyfish.” David, Gabby, and I were yearning for something joyful that we thought it was hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing.

This day taught us that everything you see at Sundance will be your favorite movie. A lot of the ones that are selected for the festival have bizarre topics are ones that don’t allow you to leave the theater with a smile on your face. That’s ok, but I tend to enjoy smiling after seeing movies.

– Will Anderson

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About The Spirit of Sundance

A group of Elon University students experiencing the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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