As the first wave of Sundance announcements start rolling in, it’s important to remember that Sundance is one of the most unpredictable of the major festivals. Catalog descriptions and cast-lists don’t tell the tale. Every year there’s a Whiplash, a The Babadook, a Winter’s Bone, or a Once, which comes out of nowhere to become one of the fest’s (and the year’s) big cinematic events. I still remember what a rush it was to see Beasts Of The Southern Wild for the first time in 2012, well before the arguments started over whether or not the film is reactionary and regressive. In that first week, the talk was more about how unconventional and beautiful writer-director Benh Zeitlin’s film is, as it turns the flooded regions of Louisiana into a mythical wonderland populated by eccentric characters and magical creatures. Even back then, the middle of Beasts Of The Southern Wild felt soggy, and the mix of real poverty and fantasy seemed misjudged at times. But damned if it wasn’t thrilling to watch Zeitlin and his young star Quvenzhané Wallis explore both this strange world that playwright Lucy Alibar had created and the young girl, Hushpuppy, who’s trying to make her mark in it. I hope to have some moments in Park City next month as exciting as the first and last five minutes of Beasts. In the meantime, I could always re-experience them tonight on SundanceTV, at 10 p.m. Eastern.
December 09, 2014 Cable Pick Of The Day