Love conquers all at Sundance

Just last night, I was writing about an assortment of ultra-dark, transgressive films that were getting a lot of ink at Sundance, but it seems the festival journey was in the mood for something a lot gentler. To be specific, a film in which true love poignantly meets its match in U.S. immigration laws has won the top prize at the festival.

The maker of “Like Crazy,” Drake Doremus, is apparently so guileless that he admitted to being partially inspired by “Paper Heart,” a perfectly okay and good-natured little movie that was hated out of all proportion to its attributes by many festival-going sophisticates and duly stomped upon. I already like the guy. Female lead, Felicity Jones, won a special jury prize for her performance. Leading guy Anton Yelchin will just have to be happy that he’s Lt. Pavel Chekhov, damnit.

I don’t have a trailer to show you, but I did dig up this very brief clip in which almost nothing happens except unbelievable romantic tension.

Indiewire has a complete write-up of the awards and a list of winners.

  

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“G.I. Joe” to enforce age (and gender?) apartheid at box office (updated)

It’s hard to tell from the wilds of deepest North Orange County, but I’m guessing that Hollywood’s in a mild state of shock following the very unexpected death of John Hughes, without a doubt one of the most influential writers and directors of the past two-and a half decades. Nevertheless, life goes on and the box office is the fact of life in the film business.

And so it is that, Lord help us all, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” seems poised to take this coming weekend’s chase for the green fairly effortlessly. Indeed, the always jovial Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter expects something in the neighborhood of $45-50 million. As mentioned here before, the actioner hasn’t been screened for critics, an increasingly common studio ploy that is nevertheless still somewhat rare for a film as high profile as this one.

Variety‘s Pamela McClintock, though not setting any numbers out for us, remarks that the action/sci-fi flick and toy/game marketing device is:

…sparking strong interest among both young and older men, as well as some curiosity among younger femmes, according to tracking.

Why any sensible young person of either gender should be interested in this film eludes me, but I guess we’ll have to see if there’s enough insensible ones from both to make this film more than a young male bastion. I should also add that some critics in the online and foreign press have managed to somehow see the film despite Paramount’s non-screening decision, and the Rotten Tomatoes numbers are less dismal than you would expect. Still, in my estimation, the best reviews lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity, though the rough beast we call the teenage populace will not be stopped from slouching towards the Plex-ville. (My profoundest apologies to Mr. Yeats.)

Intriguingly, while both Variety and THR say “Joe” will be deploying to 3,500 screens, Box Office Mojo has the film in over 4,000 theaters. The cinematic Powell doctrine, anyone?

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More LAFF: How do you mend a “Paper Heart”?

If documentaries necessarily involve a potential for abuse, simply because the perceived reality of film is so open to manipulation through editing and other tricks of the movie trade, documentary/fiction hybrids offer the opportunity for extreme confusion and manipulation. And, boy, is that the case here.

While the actual write-ups for “Paper Heart” were vague about the premise, a fellow LAFF-goer casually told me that it involved some kind of recreation of the romance between comedian/performance artist Charlyne Yi (“Knocked Up“) and the future of comic understatement, Michael Cera. Thus, watching the film, I became convinced I was seeing some kind of fictionalized retelling of a real-life romance. I am informed, however, in David Poland’s interview and from the post film Q&A that the relationship in the film is utterly and entirely fictional, so I assumed I was wrong again and the pair don’t date and never have. But after a bit more research I have information that indicates that Yi and Cera do have a relationship, just not in the one the movie. Except that the movie deals with what are Yi’s supposedly real feelings about love and how could that not affect her real or imagined romance with Cera? Of course, that’s none of my business and that’s probably a big part of the point.

The whole layers of fiction and reality thing got even more complicated when, at the post-screening Q&A, cowriter-director Nicholas Jasenovec stated categorically that story portions of the film were fictional while the documentary portions were not. Fine, but then a pre-teen boy who appears in the film opining on romance joins the discussion and, asked about he was found for “Paper Heart,” he and Jasenovic state that he was found through a casting process to join what appears to be a conversation with more or less random school children, and he is an actor.

When Jean Luc Godard uttered his most quoted line, that cinema was truth, 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie, I think this is kind of what he was talking about. But, so what?

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