AMCi: The Sundance Diaries - Day Five


By Alicia Malone January 28, 2015


Day five and Amirose and I are still alive… sort of. Film festivals are always an exercise on how little sleep and how many movies one can survive on. So far, we’ve seen 12 movies. We want to get to 20 before we leave Sundance.

With that in mind, we dragged ourselves out of our cosy beds and into the first screening of the day - ’True Story’. Based, funnily enough, on a true story, this stars Jonah Hill as NY Times reporter Mike Finkel, who discovers Christian Longo (James Franco), a man wanted for the murder of his whole family, has been using his name as an alias.

Intrigued, Mike goes to visit him, and the two begin a friendship while Mike interviews Christian for a book. You never quite know whether Christian is telling the truth, whether he’s guilty or not. And that’s what makes the movie interesting. Granted, if you know the story this is based on, it will ruin the surprise, but as I didn’t know the end result I was engaged from start to finish. The dialogue is not very realistic, but beautifully written, and it’s interesting to see Hill and Franco in a dramatic film together. Because I loved them in the comedy ‘This Is The End’, when I first saw the trailer for 'True Story' I was waiting for the jokes to begin. But not so with the movie, it sets up the dramatic tone from the start.

‘Dope’ is a film we’d been hearing a lot of people talk about since it’s premiere, and we’d been reading about the massive bidding war between 7 different studios which erupted afterwards. The movie was eventually bought by Open Road for a cool $7m, so we knew we had to try to see it. After a lot of hustling, emailing, and smiling at the right people, we got in! And we loved it.

‘Dope’ is a coming of age story about a group of geeky, 90’s loving kids living at ‘The Bottom’ in Inglewood, CA, who get mixed up in a crazy plot involving drugs. And so much more than that. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, ‘Dope’ is fun, fresh, stylish and vibey, it moves along at a great pace, set to a fantastic 90’s and modern hip-hop soundtrack. And it also has things to say, about where you grow up, fitting in vs embracing who you are. I think our buddy Erik Davis said it best when he said that ‘Dope’ feels both timeless and a nostalgic throw-back. And it’s definitely commercial.

‘Listen To Me Marlon’ was a documentary I definitely wanted to see, because as you know, classic films are “my jam”, and Marlon Brando is one of my favorite actors ever. He’s also an enigma, being quite reclusive for most of his life, so the best part about this documentary was hearing from Brando himself. Instead of having a narrator to guide the film, this doc is pieced together from recordings Brando made of himself talking, plus the occasional interview. He talks about everything - from his childhood to honing his acting skills with Stella Adler to struggling with fame and then, his tragic family life. It’s quite haunting to hear about his life from his deep voice, and the way the film weaves these recordings together makes it feel quite surreal. Like you’re hearing a ghost speak. I really enjoyed it and it’s a MUST SEE if you’re a fan of Brando.

Red Bull in hand, my final film for the day was Jann Demange’s ’71’. This film has played at other festivals before, and has already been released in Ireland, so I wanted to see it after hearing lots of positive reviews.

Set in Ireland in the 70’s during The Troubles, ’71' stars Jack O’Connell as a young British soldier who gets separated from his troop and has to try to survive the night in the mean streets of Belfast. The tension in the movie is incredible, I held my breath almost the entire time, and Yann’s direction, the camera-work chaotic at times, ramps this tension up. Jack O’Connell is absolutely brilliant. I’ve sung his praises before, having been blown away by his performance in ‘Starred Up’, and here he is similarly fantastic. You really feel for his character, who is just trying to make it through the night, even though you don’t find out all that much about his life. ’71 will be coming to U.S. cinemas soon, and I definitely recommend it.

So with day five over, 16 films down and one full day left… can we get to 20? Will we collapse in an exhausted, over-stimulated sleep? Stay tuned!

Which movies should we try to see? Let us know in the comments below!

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