As far as independent films go, they don’t get a better showcase than here at Sundance, the world’s foremost Indie film festival. Another year and it’s shaping up to be Sundance at its finest.
Already in town are the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Billy Bob Thornton, and the press is having a field day. But the next 10 days or so will showcase some of the best films to emerge outside of mainstream Hollywood. That’s not to say moviegoers will be denied seeing a lot that is screened here, but others, as always, will appear on cable or video if they’re lucky. While the big players such as Miramax, Sony Classics, Paramount Classics, Lions Gate and others, proudly strut their stuff. It is going be one hell of a 10 days, as journalists like myself try and see as much as they can, while interviewing the stars and directors that are responsible for the odd cinematic jewel.
Such a jewel is Confidence, which was actually screened for the Festival’s volunteers but a handful of media was invited to check it out rather than see the opening night film [which will be screened for the press tomorrow morning]. But Confidence is a whopper of a film, a tautly crafted film noir thriller directed by a master of the genre, James Foley. The film tells of Jake (Edward Burns), a master con man who unwittingly swindles thousands of dollars from a major crime kingpin’s accountant. After offering to pull off an even bigger con in return, Jake and his crew must stay one step ahead of both the criminals and the cops to finally settle their debt. Fast, engaging and visually intoxicating, Confidence is a real classic of this under-utilised genre. Burns is terrific, his best performance to date, cool, dry and compelling, while as the dangerous gangster, Hoffman delivers a brazen performance, full of sustained comedy coupled with the right degree of chilling menace. But this is a Foley masterpiece, a wonderfully entertaining piece that is genuinely surprising and skilfully constructed. Confidence is destined to do well when Lions gate releases the film here in April; it’s a masterful and ingenious surprise. If the rest of Sundance is half as good as Confidence, then this writer has confidence that we’re in for a wonderful time.
Tomorrow, checking out the opening night film Levity, 28 Days Later and Aussie singing sensation Kate Ceberano performs at the opening day’s musical festivities on Main Street. Sundance, here we come!