Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ODDSAC...At Sundance

Rarely does a new filmmaker have a built-in audience. An audience so rabid yet loyal, they would venture to a venue teeming with puffy coats, Uggs, and D-list celebrity to see a project connected to one of, as the purple-velvet-sport-coated announcer put it last night, "the hottest" bands today. Yes, I'm talking about the Sundance Film Festival.

Director Danny Perez lucked out. As a roadie for the Black Dice, an oft favorite opener for the aforementioned "hot" Animal Collective, he became friends with the Collective and together embarked on a four-year long process of collaboration to create ODDSAC. Luck seems to cut both ways: Perez pairing with Animal Collective clearly got his first film a world premiere at Sundance, but when not backed by the sometimes brilliant soundtrack created by the band, the movie comes off as a disjointed film school project.

The movie opened with a young woman pacing a room with fire dancers visibly outside the window, she is then occupied by black tar oozing out of a crack in the wall of the room. Perez should have saved this montage for the end, since it was the strongest and most beautiful of the film and it proved to be a tough act to follow.

Unfortunately, it was all down hill from there. Heavily influenced by Matthew Barney of the Cremaster Cycle, the audience was forced into a disjointed journey that included a sad vampire, marshmallows eating a family, a food fight with a glittered man (straight from the Barney playbook), and a midnight canoe ride, to mention a few. The bright points in the film were strictly auditory. The first line from Panda Bear's honeyed voice had audience members unclenching their armrests and settling back in their seats to listen to why he wishes he "wouldn't feel so drained, if he could only keep his hands away." Beautiful and pared down, this song was an oasis of calm after what seemed like an eternity of stylized TV snow and feedback.

It was clear who had filled the seats of Prospector Square Theatre. The Q and A was directed mostly at Deacon, the Geologist, and Avey Tare (Panda Bear was sadly absent), while Danny Perez nervously swayed side-to-side. Questions about the collaborative process, where the band would be playing after the screening, and favorite films dominated over technical questions regarding ODDSAC. When one audience member directed a question at Perez in regards to the editing process and what tools he used, he answered candidly that you need, " curtains to block out the light and your girlfriend...leaves for the day and you spend five hours on YouTube..." Bless this lucky schmuck's heart.

A part of me realizes that Danny Perez didn't expect his film to be graced by a world premiere at Sundance. This film would have fit better at Tromadance or Slamdance. Had the film been cut into shorts and peddled as music videos, it would have been easier to handle. Understanding that when this process began, Animal Collective had yet to create their more accessible albums Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion. This seems a better explanation for the "tweaked," less "songy" soundtrack, as explained by Avey Tare.

When questioned about the meaning or plot of the film, Perez wanted to "leave it to you" to figure out what it means. I think he may not have known, either.


  1. Hm...I've always wanted to go to a Sundance film festival. Your description of his film is priceless though


  2. Don't you just love Sundance? I have the best memories from that wonderful event!

    And I'm so glad you love the headbands. I have been so busy lately that I really have no time to blog! It's good to know that what's keeping me away is worth it.

  3. Found your review on IMDB and came here to check out the person who posted it.

    Since you spent more time attacking the director than actually talking about the movie, allow me to offer my two cents on you: You're painfully average in your (and it's a term I'm loathe to use, but so appropriate here) hipsterness. From your meta-job title, to your vintage clothes Etsy store, to your requisite bearded boyfriend. How boring.

    A negative review from a piece of white bread like you means that Danny must be doing something right.

  4. I appreciate you linking from IMDB, but wish you would have shared your thoughts about the movie. I am an Animal Collective fan and was so excited to see them collaborate with a film maker at Sundance.

    I indeed discussed the movie in that without the amazing soundtrack there wasn't really any cohesion, even if it was trying to be more "tweaked" as Avey Tare described in the Q and A.

    Perez is just starting out as a film maker and while I adore his wares in music videos or concert audiovisuals, I feel he has room to grow as a feature length film maker. I referenced the opening scene (without giving away too much) as the "strongest and beautiful" of the film. Hardly a negative review.

    And, just like you dear Anon, we are all entitled to our own interpretation of the film.



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