The New Year
Donnybrook reviewed films playing the Starz Denver Film Festival this week on a 100 star system. Why? Because our opinion counts 20 times more than most peoples’. Today we review the “Indie As Fuck” film, The New Year.
The New Year: 68.75 Stars
Sunny is a girl with a problem. Her problem is not recognizing her problems, so needless to say she’s at the edge of a huge life change when we meet her reading at a bowling alley in the beginning of the film. It turns out that Sunny put her college classes on hold to watch her recently divorced and cancer-infected father. She begins to live a life of complicity under the guise of watching her father. She works at a bowling center where customers and co-workers adore her, she hangs out with a high school friend who never left the home town for good reason, she has a boyfriend who adores her and Jane Austin, and her and her dad joke non-stop about cancer and their relationship. She lives a simple life being adored by everyone around her, that is, until a high school friend shows up from New York to spend the holidays with his family. Things get more complicated when it turns out that Isaac adores her too.
It may sound like I’m downplaying the character’s struggles, but the thing is Sunny (Trieste Kelly Dunn, also appearing as the sister in Cold Weather) is really adorable. And being adorable is a problem Sunny doesn’t seem to notice. When Isaac comes to town, she mistakes his admiration as a connection to the life she’s missed out on. Feeling the exciting potential of a new love causes her to alienate her boyfriend and she’s faced with a decision between boys. However, this plot point and every other in the film is just an excuse to not look at her real problem: her dad is dying and sooner rather than later she’s going to lose the person she cares most about.
The film was shot over two weeks, but don’t tell that to the film. The film looks great and there are a lot of good scenes that use a rainbow of colors to contrast some near black sets. The bowling center looks dark, as a bowling center should, and the exteriors make Pensacola look as bleak as I imagine it is.
Angora says: The dialogue felt like it was trying too hard in the beginning, but by the end I felt more comfortable with the characters and even liked them. I liked everything just fine; I liked Trieste – she’s the perfect indie darling, brunette and pretty – but I liked her even more in Cold Weather, despite a smaller part and the fact that her character in this film is supposed to be sort of saintly. Her saintliness and the overall adorable-ness of the film felt disingenuous. It was just a remix of so many other indie films I’ve seen, with nothing new to add. The quaint small town feel of the bowling alley, with its inhabitants wearing thrift store duds, the adorable indie soundtrack with songs that use chimes in it, and the quirky side characters…Please see Fritz’s Indie As Fuck blog for further elaboration.
Fritz says: The film uses the typical twenty-something-indie-angst-archtype to show that all the angst is deeper rooted than just thequestion of “what boy do I like more?” The film looks real good and I think I can officially say the Trieste Kelly Dunn is my crush of the festival.
Father Guido says: That typical indie movie feeling. Nothing happens so all the characters have to be super adorable so they can draw your attention. At least back in the early 2000′s when this style was emerging, you had quirky characters like Napoleon Dynamite and you had never seen someone like that on screen. Now you get quirky for the sake of quirk.
Antoine says: Its unfortunate when one can leave the theater to use the restroom and not be worried about missing anything important. An engaging story usually has a character with a want and a need. The character pursues their goal, the want, and throughthe story it is revealed what they really needed. In the end they get both want and need, one of the two, or none, and this usually reflects the theme of the story. It’s a repeated guideline of scriptwriting because it works. So, even though The New Year looked great and had some funny characters and dialogue, it’s boring to watch the protagonist just wait for 90 minutes, not pursuing anything when it is clear what they need.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this show has run thru it’s three show times. It’s not playing this weekend.