Sundance 2010 – batch 3

Boy (John C. Riley) loses girl (Catherine Keener), then boy meets new girl (Marisa Tomei); so far so good, we still have a recognizable story. Then, boy meets new girl’s son (Jonah Hill); now the going gets weird, and the Duplass brothers’ Cyrus takes a nicely executed left turn off the Hollywood romantic comedy main road, skids across the sidewalk, and smashes into an Oedipal crazy farm.

The process used by the Duplass brothers, as they described in the Q/A following the screening, encourages a lot of improvised dialog, and then a lot of editing to find the good film in the many hours of footage. This cast of indy-film pros clearly delivered some first-rate performances, and the editor found an enjoyable, original story. A

After wowing Sundance audiences in previous years with “Brick” and “(500) Days of Summer”, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is doing it again, stealing every scene as an offensive, charismatic metalhead in this year’s Hesher. It’s an unconventional film about a family coping with loss, and the extraordinary way they ultimately deal with it. It’s dissonant, painful and surprisingly sweet, like a Hallmark Mothers Day card tattooed on your face by Motorhead. It’s not clear whether this is a masterpiece that some will hate, or a failure that some will love. But either way it’s a fun ride, and it also gets to the heart of what heavy metal music means. But, like the most extreme metal, it might need to be watered down a bit in order to find a mainstream audience. B

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