Sundance: Day 1

January 22, 2016

By Piers Marchant
for blood, dirt & angels

Number of Films: 1

General Vibe: Thrillingly Optimistic

2016_Day_1Belgica: Belgian director Felix van Groeningen’s film is about a pair of brothers, Jo (Stef Aerts), the younger one, calm, dependable, and thoughtful; and Frank (Tom Vermeir), the older brother, who takes after their estranged father in drinking, drugging, carousing and neglecting his young family in the process. When Jo buys a small bar and turns it into a destination spot, Frank drops his gig selling cars and joins his brother, turning the place into a vast nightclub with nightly music acts, and wild hedonism at every turn. Things start well, and go rapidly downhill, largely because of Frank’s ever-more wild indulgences, most of which is eminently predictable (nightclub trajectories never turn out well). The film is anchored by strong performances from the two leads, especially Vermeir, who turns Frank into the sort of monster you never can quite turn your back on, and the soundtrack, with a host of avant garde Belgian bands playing enthused sets, keeps the film humming along despite its elongated running time.

Tomorrow: The first full day of the fest features a host of intriguing possibilities from Jason Lew (The Free World), Nicolette Krebitz (Wild), Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother), and a doc from Jeff Feuerzeig (Author: The JT Leroy Story).

Into the frigid climes and rarefied thin air of the spectacular Utah Mountains, I’ve arrived in order to document some of the sense and senselessness of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Over the next week, armed with little more than a heavy parka and a bevy of blank reporter’s notebooks, I’ll endeavor to watch as many movies as I can and report my findings. 

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