Contributed by Jeremy Mathews
Every so often, Sundance juggles its non-essential categories
to keep everyone on their toes. This year, they eliminated Spectrum to make way
for Spotlight and the low-budget-centered NEXT. Like its predecessor, Spotlight
is still a collection of odds and ends—films that didn’t fit into the
competition or other sidebars. But it also provides a workaround to the
festival's preference to premiere films. In the selection are several works
that have already pleased previous festival audiences, including three from
Jacques Audiard's A
Prophet is the best of the bunch, and its buzz from
Next, French director Gaspar Noé is typically a source of festival controversy, and Enter the Void will likely be no exception. Depending on who's talking, you'll hear words like daring, brilliant, frustrating, voyeuristic, obscene, stylistically virtuosic, exploitative and/or interminable. And they'll all be correct.
Those familiar with Noé's past films like Irreversible will expect something that
defies expectations and sends the weak-hearted viewer home crying. But no one
could prepare for the film's achievements in style and mood. Inspired by the
Tibetan Book of the Dead, the film exists entirely from the point of view of an
American who lives in
At 90 minutes, I was about ready to declare the film a masterpiece, but it turned out there was another hour left. Noé loses track of the film's strongest characters and repeat the same transition trick over and over until we're left with a frustrating mess.
On a much quieter, less show-offy note, Jessica Hausner's Lourdes studies the touristic pilgrimage process with a sly, muted sense of humor and a genuine interest in the experience of Christine (Sylvie Testud), a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic on a group trip, conducted by Catholic volunteers.
We get the impression that Christine is less interested in
miracles than in getting out of the house. She repeatedly comments that she
prefers cultural trips, like the one to