As the 2010 Sundance Film Festival nears it’s midpoint, a roundup of the buzz surrounding three films: Michael Winterbottom’s graphic, controversy-courting neo-noir “The Killer Inside Me,” Lisa Cholodenko’s breakout hit “The Kids Are All Right,” and the paparazzi doc “Smash His Camera.”
“‘The Killer Inside Me’ is a faithful but only partly satisfying adaptation of Jim Thompson’s insidiously great 1952 pulp crime novel,” reports Variety’s Todd McCarthy. “Making his first fully American dramatic feature, prolific and eclectic Brit director Michael Winterbottom scrupulously heeds the key narrative and character points of the juicy source material but comes up short in terms of tension, stylistic flair and density of detail, resulting in a film that should but doesn’t get under your skin and give you the creeps.”
“The film immediately elicited some ruffled reactions here (the first question to the director after the screening was along the lines of, ‘How dare you? How dare Sundance?’),” reports The Guardian’s Demetrios Matheou.” “But it’s not surprising. Stanley Kubrick, for whom Thompson wrote ‘The Killing and Paths of Glory,’ famously described the novel as ‘probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.’ Not only does the main character, Lou Ford – all southern decorum on the outside; malice and contempt within – talk us through his tortured machinations, he also describes in grotesquely vivid detail the murders he commits.”
“[Casy] Affleck’s the perfect actor for this role, even though he’s a little too mush-mouthed to do the voiceover narration required of a noir,” observes the A.V. Club’s Noel Murray. ” But I’m not convinced that Winterbottom’s the right person to direct. Winterbottom’s a good director in general, but he lacks a personal style, which means that The Killer Inside Me often reverts to the look and feel of films influenced by Thompson: ‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Chinatown,’ ‘Twin Peaks,’ and the like.”
“Some may love the Lynchian darkness at the heart of ‘Killer Inside Me,’ but again, that’s something that’s been done to death,” concludes Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich. “The movie doesn’t just feel like punishment, but cliched punishment, and feels as nasty as the character it follows.”
New York Magazine’s Logan Hill describes the film as “‘Antichrist’ Meets ‘Precious’ Meets ‘No Country for Old Men.'” More from The Hollywood Reporter. Screen Crave reports on the film’s premiere, which kicked up a little controversy during the Q&A for its graphic violence.
“‘The Kids Are All Right’ is such a consistently amusing delight, one could almost miss director Lisa Cholodenko’s serious intentions beneath,” writes Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson. “A comedy about a lesbian couple’s teenage children who go looking for their biological father, ‘The Kids Are All Right’ is cleverly peppered with laughs in its examination of the modern ‘untraditional’ family.” The film has emerged as one of this year’s breakout hits, and is already attracting buyer interest.
Hit Fix’s Gregory Ellwood thinks that the film has the potential to be “the most significant gay-themed film since ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (and yes, those are hyperbolic words to be sure).”
indieWIRE’s Peter Knegt reports on the film’s premiere and notes that “audiences should prepare for something truly special: one of the most endearing cinematic portraits of a contemporary American family, and one that just so happens to be reared by a same-sex couple.”
“The legacy of the paparazzo has never been a pretty one, but Leon Gast’s ‘Smash His Camera’ boldly suggests its artistic merits,” observes indieWIRE’s Eric Kohn. “Granted, his subject—quintessential New York photographer Ron Galella—has been around a lot longer than today’s combative TMZ cameramen, but he’s got a few battle scars of his own and never misses the opportunity to reminisce about their origins. However, beyond Galella’s amusing tales of routinely stalking Jacqueline Onassis and getting slugged by Marlon Brando, his devotion to the process turns him into a de facto chronicler of cultural memory.”
IFC’s Bilge Ebiri: “For all its fascination with glamour and the larger-than-life persona of Galella, Gast’s jaunty, charming documentary is deceptively complex, tackling big issues with effortless clarity. The subject is certainly fun to watch, but to what extent is what he does an invasion of privacy – and what does that word even mean?”
“Gast is a skilled documentarian (an Academy Award winner for his ‘When We Were Kings,’ in fact), and aside from some overly jaunty, ever-present soundtrack music, ‘Smash His Camera’ assembles Galella’s anecdotes in ways that are entertaining to watch and well-supported visually,” writes Noel Murray for the A.V. Club. “But the movie really makes the transition from good to near-great towards the end, with a sequence that shows a young woman walking through a gallery of Galella’s work, unable to identify his subjects. The Galella collection is impressive in its breadth; if someone’s looking for a Galella photo of Angelina Jolie, for example, they’ll find shots ranging from her as a little girl to her on the red carpet last week. But what does that matter, if in a generation from now no one cares about Angelina Jolie anymore?”
Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman calls the film “dishy and elegant.”