The Imperialists Are Still Alive

Now playing on Sundance Channel: THERE WILL BE BLOOD and nymphos

Now playing on Sundance Channel: THERE WILL BE BLOOD and nymphos

This week on Sundance Channel we’ve got milkshakes, nymphos, drag queens and terror plots. I really wish they were all wrapped up into one, amazing film. But, until I finish that screenplay, we’ve got to make do with four separate movies.

Now playing on Sundance Channel: From naughty films to brutal ends

Now playing on Sundance Channel: From naughty films to brutal ends

Ah, lovely, fragile February. While the groundhogs can’t seem to

Two strikingly ambitious films

Two strikingly ambitious films

NIGHT CATCHES US <

American indie movies specialize in character-driven intimacy. Most of the fiction films you see at the Sundance Film Festival in a given year, good or bad, are insular by design, focused on personal conflicts and private moods, sealed off from the outside world. It’s always a pleasant surprise then to encounter a dramatic movie here that grapples with larger historical forces, that blends the personal and the political. That’s precisely what THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! and NIGHT CATCHES US — two of this year’s most interesting dramatic-competition titles — set out to do. Neither is wholly successful — IMPERIALISTS indulges in a few too many art-film affectations; NIGHT is serious and somber, almost to a fault — but both are strikingly ambitious debuts (by women writer-directors, as it happens).

Trend-spotting at Sundance Film Festival 2010

Trend-spotting at Sundance Film Festival 2010

Image from HOWL

Journalists at film festivals invariably find themselves with the task of connecting the dots among dozens of disparate movies — looking for the big picture, whether in the form of a new fad or a larger cultural moment (e.g., last year’s elusive search, during a Sundance that coincided with a historic inauguration, for the quintessential Obama movie). Expect lots of trend-spotting once Sundance 2010 kicks off on Thursday night, and expect these three topics to get plenty of play: