<em>Aside from stalking the halls at Flavorwire, Erik Davis contributes to Fandango.com and is also the editor-in-chief of AOL Moviefone’s Cinematical.com, one of the longest-running and most popular movie blogs online. He’ll be bringing us his industry reports from Sundance throughout the festival, and can be reached with tips or questions at erik [dot] davis [at] gmail [dot] com.</em>
Day 2 at Sundance is really Day 1, because now the screenings finally start to swing into full gear. Opening night brought a mixed reception for Adam Eliott’s <em>Mary and Max</em>, a dark, lonely, somber animated (claymation) flick about two hideous-looking pen pals 40 years apart in age. Set design on the film was beyond brilliant, with each little piece of life hand-crafted, shaped and molded into something unique and different — like the characters, the story and the fabulous middle-aged New-York-Jew voiceover from Philip Seymour Hoffman.
<!–more–>And speaking of fine performances, Sam Rockwell arrived with the first of his two Sundance films on Day 2 — a tight, bright, claustrophobic sci-fi flick called <em>Moon</em>. Definitely reminiscent of Kubrick’s <em>2001</em>, <em>Moon</em> — which follows a clean energy worker (Rockwell) who, while nearing the end of a three-year contract on the moon, realizes he might not be alone — relies heavily on the kind of haunting twist halfway through that audiences itch for all year. It’s not perfect sci-fi, but it’s damn close — and it proves brilliant futuristic drama can exist without gaudy special effects and an over abundance of CGI. This could down as the best performance of Rockwell’s ever-growing (and fascinating, to say the least) career.
So, sure, it would appear isolation was the theme that kicked off this year’s festival — films featuring characters trying desperately to reconnect with the world around them; hoping for someone to swoop in and save the day. These are escapist movies created for a society that wishes they could escape it all right about now.