Reviews from Sundance are flooding in, so let’s dive right in…
Early buzz is not good for Spencer Susser’s “Hesher” which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a burnt-out, loner pothead who befriends a grieving 13-year-old boy, with indieWIRE’s Peter Knegt calling the film “disjointed and messy.”
Variety’s Todd McCarthy notes that “Debuting director Spencer Susser redeems his willfully antisocial central character via a climactic act of charity bordering on love, but prior to that goes out of his way to spike every scene with gratuitous provocations and repetitive vulgarities that become old very quickly.”
“I suspect some people are really going to go for ‘Hesher’ though,” notes the A.V. Club’s Noel Murray. “It has a mood and a comic sensibility that will strike some folks exactly right. Myself, I found it scattershot and undisciplined.”
One critic who did “go for” the film though, in a big way, is the New York Post’s Kyle Smith who writes that “Susser has put himself on the map with his superb script and tight direction. ‘Hesher’ is going to attract a lot of entirely justified attention.” More on the film from IONCINEMA.
“Just about every element of ‘HappyThankYouMore’ feels familiar and derivative, from its man-child protagonist to tremblingly earnest montage sequences set to indie-rock songs. Yet it’s an oddly winning endeavor all the same thanks to a likable cast,” writes Nathan Rabin in the A.V. Club about Josh Radnor’s debut, U.S. Dramatic Competition feature. “It’s the kind of passable time-waster that will enjoy a rich second life on pay-cable channels throughout the decade.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt: “You’ve been here before, of course, that roundelay of young, middle-class New Yorkers dealing with fragile relationships and risky career moves, all while living in Manhattan digs they couldn’t possibly afford. Despite its annoying title, ‘HappyThankYouMorePlease’ is more user-friendly than most such comedies. The film lacks any false angst or pretensions and genuinely appreciates its characters’ foibles and mind-sets. It might even live up to that title: When it ends, you wouldn’t mind a bit more, please.”
HitFlix’s Gregory Ellwood calls the film “the first true crowd pleaser” of the festival.” More on the film from Noel Murray at the A.V. Club. indieWIRE has an interview an interview with Radnor about the film.
“The longest lines on Thursday’s first full day of screenings at Sundance may have been for the high-profile films playing in the dramatic competition — ‘happythankyoumoreplease’ and ‘Hesher’ — but a theater full of moviegoers experienced the heady rush of discovering emerging talent in an midmorning screening of the documentary ‘Catfish,'” writes Tim Swanson in the LA Times about Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s under-the-radar documentary that has been getting some of the best buzz of the festival so far.
Katey Rich at Cinema Blend: “A story specifically about our Internet age and the relationships that crop up precisely because two people aren’t in the same place, ‘Catfish’ is both enchanting and insightful, a combination of a great story your buddy tells at a bar and an exploration of the sadness that probably lurks behind people you only know as Twitter avatars.”
“Sure enough, ‘Catfish’ confirms your worst suspicions about virtual relationships, but it also reveals with surprising sensitivity some of the psychology behind those deceptions — not that Joost and Schulman knew what they were doing when they started out,” writes Variety’s Peter DeBruge. “With support from ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ producers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling, ‘Catfish’ came about in a similar way, as a potentially dull nonfiction subject took on unexpected, even disturbing new dimensions by pushing the story past everyone’s comfort limits.”
The Star-Telegram’s Christopher Kelly calls “Catfish” the festival’s “first major breakout hit” while Marshall Fine also raves about the film. Filmmaker Magazine talks with directors Joost and Schulman.
Editorial Assistant Andy Lauer is part of the indieWIRE team covering the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.