Sundance 2011. Evan Glodell's "Bellflower"

Noel Murray at the AV Club: "The two leads of the very strange indie romance Bellflower are amateur inventors, who've tricked out their car with a whiskey dispenser and who spend their copious spare time — since they don't seem to have jobs — designing and testing homemade flamethrowers, so that they'll be ready when the Mad Max apocalypse comes. Bellflower writer-director-star Evan Glodell has much the same crackpot can-do spirit." Grade: B+.

"Bellflower is swoon-worthy and self-indulgent," writes Karina Longworth for the Voice, "viscerally exciting while often numbingly obvious; its imagery is mostly stunningly gorgeous and its sound is often borderline incompetant; its lead actor (also the writer-director-producer-editor) spends most of the first half of the film shouting every line and much of the rest glowering indiscriminately. Its deeply-sketched characters are only concerned with superficial pleasures — sex, drugs, violence, revenge — and the world they move through is apparently intentionally vague on socio-political or temporal context. It's the kind of first feature of which it's incredible easy to shrug and sniff, 'It should have been a short.' And even when it crashes and burns (all too literally), Evan Glodell's first film is the kind of ambitious, reach-exceeds-its-grasp filmmaking that Sundance's newish low-budget discovery section NEXT should be all about."

"A lot of people have complained about Sundance's NEXT section over the last year, but if Sundance is committed to the category, then I hope that they are able to track down more films that resemble Glodell's wild, boozy, twisted, and often experimental feature film debut," blogs Dan Nuxoll for Rooftop Films. "I realize that Bellflower is a MESS of a film, without a doubt. But it is a beautifully ugly and well-considered chaotic mess, and it isn't boring or incoherent for a second. The filmmakers clearly knew they were making a mess right from the beginning and not only did that not bother them — it clearly got them really, really excited."

"One of the very best experiences you can hope to have a festival is when you walk into a theater knowing absolutely nothing about a movie beyond a title and you walk out at the end of it head over heels in love," writes Drew McWeeney at HitFix. "Glodell is something of a marvel."

"The movie's distinctive look owes heavily to the home-brewed gear Glodell built to use with his high-end digital camera, and you can almost hear the filmmakers muttering 'screw it' when a smudge of dirt appears distractingly on the lens," writes John DeFore in the Hollywood Reporter. "Some of these (sometimes accidental?) stylistic flourishes contribute to Bellflower's alternate-reality vibe — a tilt-shift shot of a vintage car cruising desert highways, for instance — while a few test the viewer's suspension of disbelief." And you can learn more about the gear and the film from Coatwolf.

 


"Despite its meandering plot, Bellflower presents its doom-laden vision as an astonishingly distinctive state of mind, arguing that the end of one self-made world always marks the start of a new one," writes Eric Kohn at indieWIRE, also featuring an interview with Glodell.

Updates, 1/26: "At first I was thinking of Gummo or Trash Humpers, but this movie is way more intricately crafted than those two," writes Mike Ryan at Hammer to Nail. "Without a doubt, Bellflower is an explosive, outrageous, and dynamic first film that lives way outside the margins of what we call indie film today. Hooray to Sundance for including it in the NEXT section. I doubt it would have ever been included in the festival at all in past years."

Viewing (6'18"). HitFix's Drew McWeeney talks with the cast.

Updates, 1/31: "Much of the buzz on Bellflower during the festival has been based around its 'Fight Club in the desert' aesthetic, the flamethrower, the homemade camera equipment, the wild stunt driving and the film's apocalyptic filigrees," writes Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times. "What has often not been mentioned is how emotional and sincere the film is as well. 'I'm trying not to worry,' said Glodell in an interview midday Thursday, when asked about whether the buzz could mislead audiences as to what they are in for. 'It's misleading and it's a little scary, but I'm hoping it'll sort itself out as we move forward. But it is a little silly because the movie is a love story, though obviously the characters are obsessed with the apocalypse.'"

Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired all English-language territory rights, reports Nigel M Smith at indieWIRE.

Update, 2/5: Viewing (8'13"). HitFix's Drew McWeeney talks with Glodell and Tyler Dawson.

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