Moviehole at Sundance – Day 6

Paul’s final day in the Snowy Cinema Circus

By Paul Fischer

Eagle Vs.Shark
On this, my final day, it was a time to see one last time and check in exclusively with Antonio Banderas. To begin, Eagle vs Shark, from New Zealand, was a perfect way to conclude my Sundance ’07. A quirky, off beat, charmer of a film tells of two oddball misfits. There’s Lily [Loren Horsley] a romantic dreamer who works in a fast food restaurant, and then there’s Jarrod [Jemaine Clement] a geeky video game store clerk. The film explores these two socially awkward misfits and the strange ways they try to find love; through revenge on high-school bullies, burgers, and video games. To top it off, a slightly odd romance of sorts blossoms as these two outsiders ultimately connect in ways they never expected. In part, Eagle vs Shark is a romantic comedy, but on the other hand, under the deft and ironic hand of director Taika Cohen, it is a film about anybody who felt trapped within their own idiosyncratic world and a wonderfully wry study of acceptance. Yet unlike Hollywood films that delve into similar territory, Eagle vs Shark takes a left and sardonic turn when you least expect it. The film is wonderfully quirky, yet does not feel the slightest bit pretentious or precious in any way, nor does its quirkiness feel out of place. This delightful movie has a disarming, self-deprecating tone that never wallows into sentiment or conventional simplicity. Here is a joyously original and exhilarating work, with two mind-blowing performances by Horsley and Clement. Sundance is a celebration of the truly independent spirit, and Eagle vs Shark remains independent of the mundane and the conventional. The film will premiere in North America by Miramax in early June, with Icon releasing it in Australia and New Zealand a month later. Watch out for this absolute gem.

It was also gratifying to conclude Sundance by being one of the privileged few to sit down with Antonio Banderas, at Sundance to help spread the word of his first directorial feature in 7 years, Summer Rain. Passionate, genuine and warm, Banderas talked openly of his need to return to the town he left as a teenager to make this film, based on novel penned by a friend of that era, he recalled. He talked about his desire to use colour in a unique way, and his need to throw away the rules and make a film that was about style and texture. He wants to direct more, and says that he hopes to shoot a period film, and a low budget drama starring his wife, Melanie Griffith. The couple has been married now for a dozen years, and Banderas talked about why, in a fickle industry, his marriage is as strong as ever. He has no plans to quit acting, and is in talks to star in a new film from director Gregory Nava. It was a great interview by a humble, genuine artist.

So for this weary writer, Sundance 2007 comes to its exhausting conclusion. It was gratifying to see some great films that define what independent cinema is all about and others one wishes had never been made. Thanks to the volunteers at the press screenings who have a tough job and put up with an often whiny media, and the publicists, whose who were supportive my humble thanks – the others, well, you know who you are. In the meantime, see you in the snow again next January.