We’re calling it a day in Sundance, but keep looking at our Sundance home page and Cheat Sheet for continuing coverage from this year’s fest. Since returning from Park City, we’ve already posted new photo galleries from the “Get Low” and “Winter’s Bone” premieres, and more is on the way. In the meantime, check out Matt Singer’s review of “Sympathy for Delicious” and our roundup of Sundance and Slamdance award winners, news of who will be distributing the Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams romantic drama “Blue Valentine” and other Sundance flicks, and where you can see some clips of those films right now.
The Lord may work in mysterious ways; “Sympathy For Delicious” does not. The only thing that’s mysterious about this unsubtle film about the nature of healing and faith is the thought process behind the raft of bad decisions made by director/star Mark Ruffalo, a great actor making a disappointing directorial debut working from a script by his friend and co-star Christopher Thornton. Despite an intriguing premise taken to some unexpected places and some strong supporting performances, “Sympathy For Delicious” is a gangly mess of a movie.
Thornton plays Dean, a.k.a. Delicious D, a paraplegic DJ living on Skid Row. The night after an unsuccessful visit to a faith healer, Dean wakes up with a strange sensation in his hands and soon realizes he’s acquired the ability to heal almost anyone with a single touch. Dean doesn’t know what to make of his newfound powers – and is furious that he can’t use them to repair his own injured spine – but Father Joe (Ruffalo), who runs a local soup kitchen, believes Dean’s healing touch is a gift from God. As Father Joe tries to convince Dean to use his power to help the people of Skid Row, Dean tries to convince the members of an up-and-coming rock band to hire him to be their DJ.
From there, the worlds of rock ‘n’ roll and religion begin to mix in some interesting ways, particularly in one very effective scene that shows Dean healing people as part of a full-on rock concert. But just when “Delicious” starts to approach something really interesting, it backs off. Instead of truly exploring the implications of a rock band with a faith healing stage show, it becomes a ludicrous and extremely abbreviated episode of “Behind The Music,” careening through Delicious D’s rise, fall, and redemption arc in a matter of minutes. Just about every rock star cliché gets thrown in: from the jealous frontman (Orlando Bloom) to the crass, manipulative band manager (Laura Linney). Some of these scenes border on the unintentionally comic; after their first big gig as a band, Linney, the unambiguous devil figure in this religious parable, stokes the group’s egos with lines like “You were like an angel! You had wings on your back. I could see your wings.” (Angel! Faith healing! Religion! Get it?) She suggests they take the show on the road and call it “Healapalooza.” Shockingly, she’s serious. Even more shockingly, the band loves the idea. Even more even more shockingly, Ruffalo and Thornton don’t seem to realize just how silly the whole thing is.
New clips from… MakingOf.com has unveiled plenty of exclusive clips from hot Sundance titles including “Blue Valentine,” “The Tillman Story,” Adrian Grenier’s “Teenage Paparazzo,” Josh Radnor’s romantic comedy “HappyThankYouMorePlease” and “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.”
Acquisitions: The Weinstein Company picked up the rights to the Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams relationship drama “Blue Valentine” in a deal reported to be in the low seven figures and the Amir Bar-Lev doc “The Tillman Story” about the late NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman. Wolfe Releasing picked up the World Cinema Dramatic Competition title, “Contracorriente” the Peruvian drama about a man struggling between revealing the truth about his gay love affair or saving his marriage and upholding local tradition. Despite exceptionally poor reviews, the Joel Schumacher-directed Chace Crawford drama “Twelve” was picked up by the upstart Hanover House for a reported $2 million. Newmarket, who is currently distributing the Paul Bettany drama “Creation,” picked up the rights to the Joseph Gordon-Levitt starrer “Hesher”. In documentary news, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network picked up the rights to Chico Colvard’s “Family Affair” to premiere as part of the new “Documentary Film Club.”
Award Winners: A new episode of Funny or Die’s “Drunk History”, “Douglass Vs. Lincoln” featuring Don Cheadle and Will Ferrell, took home the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking. Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland’s “The Six Dollar Fifty Man” (a clip can be seen here), about a young boy who battles bullies, won the Jury Prize for International Short Filmmaking. A list of the honorable mentions can be found here. Meanwhile, over at Slamdance, Charles-Olivier Michaud’s “Snow and Ashes” won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film while Mark Claywell’s “American Jihadist” earned the Jury Prize for Best Documentary. A full list of winners can be found here.