Sundance 2011 – batch 3

The flawed world-view that the Federal Reserve held under Greenspan is one of many dimensions of the recent financial crisis examined in documentary film The Flaw. The sequence of events that culminated in market upheaval in late 2008 and lingering recession has been the subject of many books, a parade of talking heads on CNBC, and well-meaning but ineffective legislation. We now have this fresh and somewhat broader perspective. Using interviews with financial experts and a few ordinary homeowners and investors who were affected in various ways by the financial crisis, along with some jolly animation, this film largely succeeds in making economics (the dismal science) more entertaining than it deserves to be, while providing actual data to make its case.

If a documentary film accepted to Sundance didn’t take a somewhat liberal tone, California would slide into the ocean. This film does try to cover several vantage points, so it may cause a few tremors. But our beaches are safe, because the film ultimately argues that the problem is capitalism itself; specifically what it has become in the last 30 years with the shift in the distribution of wealth toward a smaller number of wealthier asset holders.

In the Q/A following the screening, director David Sington revealed that he is a conservative who changed his opinion of the crisis during the filming. B.

The story of a policeman dealing with corruption has been told before, but The Son of No One one has an original narrative device: We see the central character, Channing Tatum’s New York cop, as an adult, and then as a child in flashbacks, and the film gradually reveals the lasting impact of the childhood events. But the story told through that device feels unresolved, and somehow fails to reach the high level of excitement we expect.

In the Q/A after the screening, the film’s editor discussed an alternative ending with a completely different meaning, which suggested that some capricious choices may have been made in the narrative. C

As an apparently happy family hosts another apparently happy family in their guest house for the winter, we gradually learn that serious problems lie beneath the surface in Norwegian import (with English subtitles) Happy Happy. With comedic elements and bittersweet emotional turns, this Sundance favorite (World Cinema Jury Prize, Dramatic) entertains by presenting some adult themes with a light tone, and by revealing small pleasant surprises one after another, like chocolate Easter eggs in the Norway snow. B