Sundance Wrap-Up: How’d Mysteries Do?

It didn’t win any awards, and the early reviews are mixed to bad.

That’s the final word on Mysteries of Pittsburgh following last week’s Sundance Film Festival. Bloggers had long attacked the movie for not following the book close enough.

The Hollywood Reporter calls Mysteries a “reverential and smart distillation” of Chabon’s novel. But the Reporter takes some hits at the film too, saying the performances of Jon Foster and Peter Sarsgaard are what help invigorate the film and “keenly flesh-out its emotional dimensions.”

FirstShowing.Net‘s reviewer also liked the film. “What I discovered was not particularly funny, but rather a very endearing drama with a wonderful score and great characters. It’s not anything close to a masterpiece, but Mysteries of Pittsburgh is still a great film.”

Then there’s the mixed reviews, like Buzz Sugar’s. “It’s not a bad movie, by any means. The music is fantastic, for example. Many of the directorial choices (the way shots are set up, the use of voiceover narration, etc.) are superb. Several of the performances are arresting. But the dialog is stilted and the action feels extremely rushed.”

And then there’s the haters. A review posted on Ain’t It Cool News say while the film was “competently directed, the story was unengaging. Keep the faith in Thurber and most of the actors, but check this flick out only if you’re hardcore for any of ’em.”

And The Advocate slams the film as well. “Thurber’s changes have made The Mysteries of Pittsburgh flatter, more generic, and more like umpteen Sundance films that have come before it.”

A parting shot, from Chud: “Here’s the big mystery of Pittsburgh: How did this movie manage to be so completely terrible?”

LA Times Profiles Thurber

The Los Angeles Times profiled Rawson Marshall Thurber in the run-up to today’s premier of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

A large part of the article focuses on the odd risk Thurber is taking professionally making Mysteries his follow-up to Dodgeball. The paper reports that Thurber’s friends and agent tried to convince him not to do it.

“I probably actively dissuaded him four times,” said John August (screenwriter for “Go” and “Charlies Angeles”). “A script is a year of your life, and there’s no guarantee it will become a movie.

“Rawson has always come to me for advice and rarely taken it. He understood the risk but was completely undeterred. That’s how somebody gets a career in this business.”

Over on his blog, though, August suggests he’s happy Thurber ignored him.

“I’ve seen the movie five times, and am ridiculously proud of Mr. Thurber,” he wrote.

Mysteries Clip Online

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Sundance Film Festival this week to see Mysteries of Pittsburgh premier, Spike TV is hosting online an interview with Rawson Marshall Thurber that features a clip from the film.

And never fear — while in the past some Sundance films have found themselves abandoned without a home and never to be seen in wide distribution, odds are good that Mysteries will get purchased thanks to the writer’s strike. The New York Times on Thursday profiled Groundswell Productions, the house behind Mysteries and two other competitors at the festival.

Yiddish Nominated for Edgar

The Houston Chronicle reports that The Yiddish Policemen’s Union has been nominated for the Edgar Award for “Best Novel.”

The Edgars recognize outstanding mystery writing fiction. Other nominees in the novel category include Christine Falls by Benjamin Black; Priest by Ken Bruen; Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman; and Down River by John Hart.

For the full list of nominees, head here. Awards are presented May 1.

Chabon: Leave Barack Alone

Michael Chabon came to the defense of Barack Obama in a blog post Tuesday, arguing Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen was trying to scare readers into thinking Obama was anti-semite.

“Barack Obama knows that black people and Jews need to come together to fight for all the important issues and values they share,” Chabon wrote in a blog posting at The Huffington Post. “He knows that we need to start talking from the center of our communities, and stop whispering or shouting at the extremes.”

In Cohen’s column, also published Tuesday, the op-ed writer castigated Obama for not speaking out against an award presented to Louis Farrakhan by a magazine affiliated with the Democratic presidential candidate’s church in Chicago. Farrakhan, Cohen says, “epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler.”

Chabon criticizes the column, and says Cohen is working to wrongly create fear among readers. “Let’s all choose, Jews and African-Americans, to set fear aside, and work for a return to the days, whose memory Cohen’s fear-mongering so grievously tarnishes, when we set aside everything that separated us to join together in the service of our common American good,” he says.

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