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Jonathan's Sundance Reviews, 2008 

Table of Contents

10 films this year. Same rating scale of 1-5.   The title of each film links to IMDB for full cast and details.

Stranded (5) Transsiberian (5) Shorts Program I (3)
Strangers (5) Under the Bombs (4) Shorts Program V (3)
The Wave (5) What Just Happened? (4)
The Guitar (5)

Flow: For Love of Water (4)

Stranded (5) (Netflix)

In 1972, a plane carrying players, coaches and friends of a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes. Using dramatic reenactments and interviews with the remaining survivors, this documentary recounts the riveting story of their horrific ordeal. The harrowing tale of human survival became even more dramatic when it was discovered the men ate the dead bodies of their friends to go on living.

Strangers (5) (Netflix)

At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Palestinian Rana (Lubna Azabal) and Israeli Eyal (Liron Levo) meet on the Berlin underground and soon fall in love. Taking place over six intense days, this film follows their emotional journey to connect and find happiness together. When Rana is suddenly called back home to Paris, Eyal must quickly decide whether he should continue to pursue the fledgling romance.

The Wave (5) (Netflix)

To give his students a real-world example of how dictatorships can grow powerful, high school teacher Rainer (Jürgen Vogel) starts a social experiment that assigns some of his students a strong advantage while leaving others subservient and powerless. The classroom exercise spreads to the rest of the school, where it mushrooms into violence, discrimination and the abuse of power.

The Guitar (5) (Netflix)

In one fateful day, Mel Wilder (Saffron Burrows) is fired from her job, abandoned by her boyfriend and diagnosed with a terminal disease. With nothing left to lose, Mel's determined to make the most of her final days by living the life she always dreamed of. Directed by Amy Redford, this touching story celebrates the emotional and spiritual liberation of a woman who thumbs her nose at death and refuses to go gently into that good night.

Transsiberian (5) (Netflix)

An American couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) seeking to smooth out their rough marriage buys a ticket on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. But a chance meeting with two other passengers ends in an accidental murder and high intrigue. Ben Kingsley and Thomas Kretschmann co-star as two Russian police officers trying to solve the baffling case in Brad Anderson's taut and gritty thriller.

Under the Bombs (4) (Netflix)

When divorced Shiite mother Zeina (Nada Abou Farhat) takes a risky journey to war-torn Lebanon to find her missing 6-year-old son, her only help comes in the form of Tony (Georges Khabbaz), a Christian cabbie who agrees to escort her on the dangerous trip. The harrowing expedition slowly brings the odd couple together in this romantic drama, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival and Venice Film Festival.

What Just Happened? (4) (Netflix)

Harried film producer Ben (Robert De Niro) juggles a lunatic director, a temperamental actor (Bruce Willis) and an out-of-control production while courting a studio head (Catherine Keener) and dealing with his ex-wife (Robin Wright Penn) in Barry Levinson's funny and poignant exploration of the movie business. The all-star comedy is based on the sharply observed novel by veteran Hollywood producer Art Linson.

Flow: For Love of Water (4) (Netflix)

From both local and global perspectives, this documentary examines the harsh realities behind the mounting water crisis. Learn how politics, pollution and human rights are intertwined in this important issue that affects every being on Earth. With water drying up around the world and the future of human lives at stake, the film urges a call to arms before more of our most precious natural resource evaporates.

Shorts Program I (4)

From the sublimely sweet to the downright raunchy, here we meet friends, relatives, body parts, boys, and fish stuck together, for better or worse, in functional and dysfunctional relationships, to get through this thing called life. Two cousins labor in a post-Katrina wasteland, a pair of sisters would rather die than wear homemade dresses, and gender-bending dance partners create art and exist as art. Whether it’s a pissed-off wife and her no-good husband, a muscleman and his passive-aggressive mother, or bickering testicles, this journey tells you who’s the boss and why it’s always, always advisable to wear underwear.

Short Films: "The Second Line" by John magary, "Dennis" by Mads Matthiesen, "The Adventures of Baxter & McGuire: The Boss" by Mike Blum, "Harvest Time" by Sami Korjus, "Teat Beat of Sex" by Signe Baumane, "Smile" by Julia Kwan, "Bend It" by Jules Nurrish, "Aquarium" by Rob Meyer.

Shorts Program V (3)

No one ever said relationships are easy. Funny, disgusting, shocking, intriguing—check! But easy? In these films, the heart may get what it wants, but it could also get its ass kicked all the way to Sunday. From the slow-burning romantic travails of teens on the verge, to a Rashomon-style take on the differences between the sexes, to a man's affection for his miniature guide horse, love shows its many splendorous colors. Then there's the darker side of heart's desire—a tragic incident turns love into vengeance, a single gal realizes she may as well be dead, and a zombie fuels a tale of unrequited desire. Oh, and there are the mating habits of insects, where the line between sex and death is as thin as a spider's web.

Short Films: "Force 1 TD" by Randy Krallman, "Lloyd Neck" by Benedict Campbell, "Green Porno" by Isabella Rossellini - the full sereies: Dragonfly, Firefly, Spider, "Sunlit Shadows" by Benjamin M Piety, "August 15th" by Xuan Jiang, "The Funeral" by Sara St. Onge, "I Love Sarah Jane" by Spencer Susser.

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