Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Critics Notebook | At Slamdance, "Superheroes" and "Silver Tongues" Impress

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire January 31, 2011 at 4:26AM

"The more the merrier," Robert Redford told a roomful of journalists at the beginning of the Sundance Film Festival this year. He was responding to a question about the Slamdance Film Festival, as he often must. Started in 1995 in response to Sundance's ultra-competitive submission pile, Slamdance initially served as an angry rebuke to the larger festival, but now it appears to pick up some of its slack.
3

"The more the merrier," Robert Redford told a roomful of journalists at the beginning of the Sundance Film Festival this year. He was responding to a question about the Slamdance Film Festival, as he often must. Started in 1995 in response to Sundance's ultra-competitive submission pile, Slamdance initially served as an angry rebuke to the larger festival, but now it appears to pick up some of its slack.

The recently concluded Slamdance provides a unique contrast between the two events. While many consider the 2010 edition of Sundance historic for its eruption of sales, Slamdance concluded with hardly a single distribution deal -- even though a number of movies deserved as much attention as many of the heavily publicized Sundance breakouts.

Michael Barnett's fascinating documentary "Superheroes" was unquestionably the highlight of the Slamdance movies I managed to see in between dozens of Sundance screenings. Barnett's gorgeously-shot survey (featuring his own camerawork) of "real life superheroes" around the country delves into the psychology that drives certain eccentric individuals to dress up in costume and proclaim themselves bonafide crime fighters. In recent years, American cinema has been oversaturated with fictional movies about bumbling wannabe superheroes, from "Kick-Ass" to "Defendor," but Barnett delves deeper into the fantasy by profiling actual people compelled to wear masks and save the needy.

Chatting with those colorful characters in major cities ranging from San Diego to New York, he withholds judgement, managing to avoid viewing their exploits as utter psychotic behavior or mental derangement. "This is me just acting out a need I feel," says one crime fighter, a man equally willing to track down muggers and hand out food to the homeless. Barnett takes the unorthodox view that these people can actually do some good (the legitimate non-profit group Team Justice functions like community activism), and proves it by looking past the presumably crazy exterior of their outfits—but still maintaining the mystery of their identities, and letting the mystique stand.

Another Slamdance movie dealing with identity problems, audience award winner " Silver Tongues" features a devious couple (Lee Tergesen and Enid Graham) traveling from place to place and inventing new characters to play. First, they trick a young couple into deciding to try a foursome, before fleeing the room and leaving their victims to contemplate their newfound sexual boundaries. Then, they're going head to head in a church, leading an entire congregation to believe their leader has swindled them. At an old folk's home, they convince a senile man that they're his long lost children. The intrigue surrounding their motives builds exponentially with each of these instances.

Director Simon Arthur develops a curiously eerie atmosphere that questions the motives of his enigmatic characters, who never seem intent on stealing or otherwise breaking the law; part of their trick involves how much they can create out of nothing while leaving no trace behind. Although some scenes hold together better than others, Arthur's compelling screenplay moves forward with an unconventional rhythm that forces viewers to do the detective work. By the end, it's impossible to know if the gig is up or just beginning.

"Silver Tongues" hasn't found distribution yet, but both it and "Superhero" could at least perform well on VOD or in limited theatrical release with the right approach. Since neither one was picked up during the festival ("Superhero" landed a deal right at the end), it seems likely that talk about the healthy surge of sales in Park City this year says less about the general marketplace for independent productions than it does about the specific marketplace at Sundance. Maybe next year it can share the love.

criticWIRE grades:

"Superheroes": A-

"Silver Tongues": B

This article is related to: Features, Reviews, Festival Dispatch, Slamdance Film Festival






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More