Wonderland.

REVIEW MK. II – SUNDANCE LONDON

The dust has just started to settle on Sundance London, but the reviews are rolling in and the prognosis looks good – even if it was competing with the New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys reunion at the O2. Wonderland rounds up the final days of America’s biggest festival export…

Day three

River’s Edge

Think ‘80s teen’ and you’re more likely to come up with Molly Ringwald in pink than an overweight killer in a Metallica t-shirt. Luckily, it’s Sundance to the rescue with their 25th anniversary showing of River’s Edge, the cult classic about a group of teenage burnouts trying to cover up the murder of their friend. In short, it’s a Daily Mail reader’s worst nightmare, but with more double denim and hair scrunchies. “It was 1986 and Hollywood was going through an unusually bland period,” director Tim Hunter said. “I saw the script as an opportunity to shake the audience up.” Unlike some 80s high school movies (Weird Science, we’re looking at you), River’s Edge hasn’t dated a bit and remains enormously shocking. That’s no surprise, given its disaffected, black-hearted teens live on in Larry Clark and Greg Araki films. But the real star of the film is a twitchily charismatic 20-year-old Crispin Glover, straight out of playing Marty McFly’s dad in Back To The Future. The notorious eccentric even appeared at Sundance to warn against the Hollywood machine: “That film was what I call my psychological reaction to corporate constraints – anything that can possibly make an audience member uncomfortable is excised, or the film won’t be corporately funded. That’s an incredibly damaging thing.”

Day four

A Concert for Kate McGarrigle

From the get go, Sundance London tried to distinguish itself from its Utah counterpart by cramming in more music-based programming – with questionable levels of success. First there were technical glitches with The Guillemots’ opening night gig, then Tricky’s shambolic performance of his 1993 masterpiece Maxinquaye” with a confused Martina Topley-Bird. Thankfully, Rufus and Martha Wainwright stepped in with the world premiere of Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You, a documentary of the tribute concert to their deceased mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle. “I felt a real kind of thunderbolt of drive to do this,” Rufus told Wonderland. “As well as being a film about Kate as a songwriter, it’s also about the premature death of a mother. It’s what everyone goes through, eventually.” Lian Lunson, who previously directed Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. In fact, she could do with being more adventurous: the cinematography feels weirdly inert, giving the film a whiff of a made-for-TV concert. But Kate McGarrigle’s intimate songs of love and loss shine through, as do the Wainwright siblings’ voices and their palpable sense of grief. During tracks like Proserpina, there was more than one audience member furtively wiping away tears. As Martha Wainwright put it: “Luckily Rufus doesn’t have to wear mascara. I’m making sure I’m wearing the waterproof kind.”

Words: Zing Tsjeng

REVIEW MK. II – SUNDANCE LONDON

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