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SUNDANCE ’09: Thursday, January 22nd

Another fulllll day of movie-watching. Only one more to go. At the moment, I’m at my breaking point. Though I can rally for one more session. But I can’t wait to get back to New York and my cozy apartment where I can regroup and begin to sift through the pieces of this year’s Sundance. Without too much clinical consideration, I’d say this year’s main theme appears to be child rape. How uplifting, filmmakers! With only one day left, it looks like I’ll be leaving here without the small handful of great films that I carried away with me last year (Momma’s Man, Ballast, The Order of Myths, Trouble the Water, etc.). But generally, I stand behind my earlier statement that this year’s program is sturdier than 2008’s. I’m way too exhausted to have any perspective at this point, so I should probably just shut up and give you the day’s recap of the most interesting stuff I saw.

Everything Strange and New — The description for this film had me skeptical, but Frazer Bradshaw does something different with the early-life crisis movie and I ended up succumbing to its strangely hypnotic spell. I met Bradshaw directly afterwards for a twenty-minute discussion, which I’ll either be transcribing or podcasting as soon as I get back to NYC, but I found it to be a very fulfilling chat. Everything Strange and New goes for it, and on so many counts it succeeds. Oh yeah. Eat your heart out Humpday! (If you see both films, you’ll know what I mean.)

Johnny Mad Dog — My jury is still deliberating as to whether or not this film veers into exploitation land, but its power and energy cannot be denied. Johnny Mad Dog recreates, with terrifying immediacy, the Liberian war in which child soldiers wreaked havoc on citizens everywhere. I might need to sit on this one more than any other film I’ve seen this week, but for now all I can say is holy hell, man.

Stingray Sam — Cory McAbee (American Astronaut) strikes again with this six-part, hour-long serial that combines outer space b-movies, westerns, and musicals into one blast of fresh air. They added a press screening of it tomorrow afternoon in an actual theater and I’m tempted to watch it again, as there doesn’t appear to be an immediate release plan for it. One particular musical sequence has been lodged in my brain all night long.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle — David Russo’s film isn’t just different from anything I’ve seen this week, it’s different than… I don’t even know. I’m having a hard time comparing it to anything else (which is certainly a compliment). It feels like a lost midnight movie from the ’80s or something, especially with regards to the performances. I don’t really know what this movie is about, but I laughed a good bit and have a feeling it’s going to stick with me.

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Michael Tully is an award-winning writer/director whose films have garnered widespread critical acclaim, his projects having premiered at some of the most renowned film festivals across the globe. He is also the former (and founding) editor of this site. In 2006, Michael's first feature, COCAINE ANGEL, chronicling a tragic week in the life of a young drug addict, world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film immediately solidified the director as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” a reputation that was reinforced a year later when his follow-up feature, SILVER JEW, a documentary capturing the late David Berman's rare musical performances in Tel Aviv, world-premiered at SXSW and landed distribution with cult indie-music label Drag City. In 2011, Michael wrote, directed, and starred in his third feature, SEPTIEN, which debuted at the 27th annual Sundance Film Festival before being acquired by IFC Films' Sundance Selects banner. A few years later, in 2014, Michael returned to Sundance with the world premiere of his fourth feature, PING PONG SUMMER, an ‘80s set coming-of-age tale that was quickly picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures. In 2018, Michael wrote and directed the dread-inducing genre film DON'T LEAVE HOME, which has been described as "Get Out with Catholic guilt in the Irish countryside" (IndieWire). The film premiered at SXSW and was subsequently acquired by Cranked Up Films and Shudder.

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