Moviehole at Sundance – Day 5


We check out the latest from Antonio Banderas and Dakota Fanning

By Paul Fischer

From the sublime to the ridiculous would sum up my experiences on this, my second last day covering Sundance.

Summer Rain
Antonio Banderas’ Summer Rain, [El Camino de los ingleses], the actor’s second turn behind the camera, returns him to his native Spain, or Malaga, to be more precise, for this audacious, visually dazzling and emotionally rich, cinematic tapestry. Simplistically, Summer Rain, based on Antonio Soler’s novel, is a coming-of-age tale charting the first loves, lusts and obsessions of friends on vacation at the end of the 1970s. Yet through Banderas’ visual eye, Summer Rain is a complex tale of lust, infidelity, betrayal and family, treated in an unconventional
manner. Cinematically, the film is richly textured, with the director’s vivid use of colour, especially reds, to accentuate his themes. There is little doubt that the film will divide audiences, much like Hopkins’ Slipstream. Both have unconventional narratives and both have a dream-like quality. Summer Rain is a vibrant, erotic, unconventional masterpiece by a filmmaker with an original voice. His film may not be for everybody, but then it doesn’t try to be.

The rest of the day, interviews that included the wonderful Brenda Blethyn, who mentioned she may be doing a stage tour across Australia at the same time as Clubland opens there around May. Director Cherie Nolan also spoke about the state of the Australian industry, and her hopes of getting other features off the ground. I then rushed off to chat to Parker Posey, here with two films, complaining about the low standards of interviewers’ questions. And no, no mention of another Superman just yet. Walking down Main Street, I chatted with the fiercely intelligent and passionate Jena Malone. A walk and talk chat was something quite unique, but she talked about her role in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, which she narrates, and is also making a segue into music [she even gave me her demo CD which rocks].

A great chatting to wonderful actors and then sitting through what may well be the worst Sundance film in my recollection: Hounddog. In fact, in the dozen or so years that I’ve been covering this festival, I have never known the press to hiss at a film’s conclusion. Yes, the film with the most buzz is the most insufferable, immoral mess of a film that should never have been allowed at this, or any other, festival. Dakota Fanning gives an occasionally strong performance as a troubled girl who finds a safe haven in the music and movement of Elvis Presley in the south of the late fifties.
From a woeful, disjointed script by Deborah Kampmeier, to her sledgehammer-like direction, here is a film that offers nothing to the film goer. With no sense of character, and much of the acting consistently overdone [Piper Laurie, please retire], Hounddog is a shameful, exploitative mish mash that lacks coherence, and a message at the end that is nothing short of disgusting. While Fanning shows promise with dark material, she is let down by a hackneyed script and clearly no real direction. This is a pointless, meandering tale that nobody is likely to see, and one can only hope, given its like collage of bad reviews, that no distributor will go near it. It was an unfortunate end to my second last day.

Tomorrow, is my wrap up. Exclusive interviews with Antonio Banderas and Jim Broadbent, plus thoughts on a film from Israel and the U.K.