My first official film of The Sundance Festival (I’m not counting Daddy Longlegs, I’ll tell you all about that one later) was a success thanks to Director Aaron Schneider and performances by Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Lucas Black!
The film is about an old grumpy man (Duvall) who decides to throw himself a “funeral party” so that he can attend his own funeral and hear the horrible stories people have to say about him before he dies. With the help of a money hungry mortician (Murray) and his honest and caring sidekick (Black) they help organize the funeral of a lifetime!
From the very beginning the film captures your attention. The opening shot and score were reminiscent of certain scenes from There Will Be Blood — beautiful, mysterious and simple yet intriguing.
- Comedy: With a possibly serious and depressing plot they added a number of great comedic touches.
- Bill Murray: He does so little but is so funny. His reputation proceeds him so you start laughing before he even says a word. He knows how to deliver a line that could be dark and melodramatic but instead is a charming, funny, and dynamic. (As a side note, I couldn’t help but notice that his opening shot is almost exactly the same as his role as the Badger Lawyer in Fantastic Mr. Fox. And he’s kind of dressed the same.)
- Duvall: Has such a presence on screen. He makes you respect him, while at the same time be makes you laugh and feel for him.
- Lucas Black: Given the thankless job of being the average joe who you have to trust in, he did a great job without having the fun dynamic characters that the rest of the cast had. Without him being a great actor, we would be lost. Definitely worth looking out for what he has coming up in the future!
- Score – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek did an amazing job. A lot of the film dealt with loneliness and therefore required a lot of silence. Whenever their was music it had to be done subtly otherwise it would destroyed the moment. The music was big and bold when needed, but often times was thoughtfully left out and only crept in and assisted the story when needed.
- Some GREAT lines… one is between Bill Cobbs and Bill Murray with “can’t” vs “won’t”, Cobb as the Rev saying “Free will isnt’ all it’s cracked up to be”
- Editing: There are a few edits that were a touch jolting. It felt like either they didn’t get enough coverage or something else went wrong. I always say that if you notice editing it wasn’t done well and I think that some of the slight issues I had with the pace may have had to do with the editing.
- ADR – Some of the ADR was a bit odd, mainly when they were at a distance or in the car.