Over the past week Dana and I suffered through bloodshot eyes and daily hangovers as we sat through a slew of films at the 3rd annual Mammoth Film Festival. Of course some were great and some were bad. Dana’s “job” was to find the films that she liked the most; mine was to find the worst. But before I dive into what I felt were the worst of the films, I have to admit there were some that I really enjoyed (Message from the East, My Run, The Unknown, Second Nature), but like every independent film festival, finding a good one can be like finding a beer at a Utah Jazz game. Since I inherently seek out films I know I won’t enjoy and Dana seeks out films that she hopefully will enjoy, the picks are arguably pretty even handed. -Colin
At registration, attendees of the Mammoth Film Festival were given two large color copies the same approximate size as The Sheet circa 2003. One was a schedule and the other was a front-and-back list of all 62 shorts, documentaries, comedies, extreme sports films, green films, narratives, dramas and foreign features, each with a two-sentence film synopsis. It was upon these sometimes hugely misguiding synopses that we based our film choices. I may have also made decisions around fitting in powder runs, but at this point it’s all a blur. In the end I saw something like 25 movies and ate like 15 Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars. –Dana
Before we get to our lists you should know that there we’re a few ground rules that we agreed on before the festival began:
A.) To keep Wolf in check and Dana from being too nice neither one of us were allowed to write more than 60 words on why you hated or loved the flick.
B.) Before you watch the film you have to write a few sentences on what you think the movie will be about and whether or not you’ll enjoy it.
C.) To keep us fair on our opinions you have to see at least two films from each section (extreme sports, shorts, tournament feature & green). You also must pick your overall favorite/worst.
Best Extreme Sports Film: Second Nature, 22 min
Director, Colin Blackshear
Going in – Since the filmmakers have provided cans of Tecate for everyone in their audience, I think I already like this film. These Westin Monache conference chairs are suddenly not so uncomfortable. I have heard about some crazy skateboarding movie that also involves swimming. I think this might be it.
Coming out – The director is a tall guy from the Bay Area who passed the camera back and forth between himself and two friends while longboard/speedboarding down steep local pavements like Rock Creek road. No wobbling? Pastel suits? How close to the cars — ? I still have so many questions.
Best Short: Whose Dog is it Anyway?, 12 min
Director, Cindy Chupak
Going in – I am a huge fan of SATC (Sex and the City) and all I know about this film is that it’s directed by one of the show’s writer/producers and it’s about a dog. Bam – two things I love!
Coming out – I know it’s hard for any Mammoth person to imagine hating dogs, but imagine, if you will, hating dogs. And then haphazardly falling for one. Oh, the romance. It’s that same SATC message – everyone finds something to love in the end. Excellently punctuated by a melodic angst-filled Conor Oberst song.
Best Tournament Feature: 9,000 Needles, 82 min
Director, Doug Dearth
Going in – I’m not really into acupuncture or anything, but there are no other movies to see at 5pm on this Wednesday night, so I might as well check this one off the list. The synopsis says it’s about the health care system so I’m prepared to be bored.
Coming out – Must e-mail my friend in Chinese acupuncture school about this soul-stirring doc! The real emotion isn’t that a health nut bodybuilder can have a stroke, or his family’s love and strength, or that health insurance prevents rehab. It’s that a middle-American family accepts acupuncture and Chinese doctors into their lives.
Best Green Film: Dive!, 45 min
Director, Jeremy Seifert
Going in – I can jive with dumpster diving. Don’t make me do it, though.
Coming out – Seifert and a gang of hipster/hippie/dumpster diving heroes drive home some Michael Moore-esque points in their journey from dumpsters to grocers’ corporate offices: One, a typical family throws out $600 in food per year. Two, 20 percent of landfill waste is food. Three, Albertsons has the best food rescue program.
Overall Favorite: Cart, 11 min
Director, Jesse Rosten
Going in – The “secret life of shopping carts” sounds suspiciously like a cute cartoon. This one has good word of mouth though.
Coming out – Who knew a camera could get so intimate with a shopping cart, grabbing close-ups of each part of its anatomy and viewing it from every angle possible, while expounding on the life of the shopping cart as the greatest love story of all time? Six more words needed: Makes you smile.
Worst Extreme Sports: Sheer Bliss, 38m
Director, Patrick Miller
Going in: Yes, another movie about Mammoth Ski Area! I wonder if it’ll be better than Hot Laps? The guy that made it sounds like a pro and besides how bad can it be it’s about an area where I live and love to ski.
Coming out: Two words, Shit Bliss. Patrick Miller has more in common with Warren Miller than just a last name; crappy dialogue, crappy skiing, and crappy music. I could not believe my bleeding ears that I was hearing Counting Crows in a ski movie. I overheard one person in the audience say, “This movie makes me wish it was summer already.”
Worst Short: Whose Dog Is It Anyway?, 12m
Director, Cindy Chupack
Going in: Well, I know the film is directed by the Sex and City executive producer, so I expect a trailer for a new season of Sex and City. I’m not too excited about this one.
Coming out: It might be stupid to rename the film “Whose Crap Is It Anyway” since I already know who made it. It’s exactly what I though it would be; a neurotic and successful single woman in NYC comes across a dog, hates it and then loves it, but only because she thought it would get her taco stuffed.
Worst Tournament Feature: Speed Dating, 85m
Director, Tony Herbert
Going in: Okay, guy has millions, guy likes speed dating, guy gets amnesia and gets framed for murder. It sounds implausible but good enough for me, besides the lead actor looks like Frodo and I like Lord of The Rings.
Coming out: I was right about one thing. The lead actor does look like Frodo, and like Frodo, watching him reminds me of how many times I wanted to bitch slap Frodo for being such a pussy about that ring. The initial premise of the movie makes no sense; a guy can’t find a date while having millions of dollars. Horse shit.
Worst Green Film: Climate Change: How Do We Know?, 20m
Director, Kendrick Taylor
Going in: Hmmm it’s a film about climate change. It sounds kind of interesting or at the least a noble cause.
Coming out: Okay, I don’t know who the target audience is but I’m guessing its goldfish. You could make a whole series based on the ridiculousness of this film, for example, “Sweaty Armpits: How Do We Know?” or “Chronic Masturbator: How Do We Know?” Someone should have told Taylor that Al Gore already made this movie.
Overall Worst: Rock Slyde, 89m
Director, Chris Dowling
Going in: Patrick Warburton, who plays Elaine’s boyfriend on “Seinfeld,” stars in what looks like a comedy about a private-eye who investigates some kind of religious cult led by “actor” Andy Dick. Should be good as long they were lying about Andy Dick being in it.
Coming out: Dowling should change his name to Big Pun. This movie is littered with one crappy pun after another. After about 45 minutes of Andy Dick’s face on the screen I fell into a peaceful slumber where I dreamt I was watching Sandlot 2. Which is a terrible movie but for some reason watching it felt eerily serene.