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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

'Drunktown's Finest:' The Type of Film for Which Redford Started Sundance

The Indion Entertainment movie "Drunktown's Finest" is a Sundance 2014 film by executive producer Robert Redford that has since hit the festival circuit and is soon coming to an art house theater near you. This run commences with a February 20, 2015 premiere at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

This film is set in the (apparently) fictional community of Dry Lake, New Mexico. The interesting but useless trivia regarding this is that "Dry Lake" is the original title of "Finest."

This beautifully shot low-budget non-studio film shot in the Southwest is a perfect example of the type of film that belongs at Sundance. The fact that "Finest" won a plethora of festival awards in the wake of the Sundance screening validates this observation.

The following mostly spoiler-free) trailer for "Finest" nicely showcases the Sundnaceness of the film.


The titular notables are a trio of Native Americans living in the titular community. The boy in the group is chronic delinquent Luther "Sickboy" Maryboy. His violent instincts, understandable resentments, and presence while his former partners in crime engage in illegal activity are only some obstacles to his impending enlistment in the Army for the purpose of improving his life and those of his younger sister and his live-in girlfriend.

Felixia is a transsexual who engages in the world's oldest profession while aspiring to have a modeling career. Like Sickboy, Felixia is finding her efforts to improve her life very challenging.

Good Christian coed Nizhoni rounds out the group and is the most sympathetic member of the trio. She is the adopted daughter of a white couple that opposes her efforts to learn more about her birth parents. This dynamic regarding the couple wanting to do a charitable act but not achieving an ideal level of compassion makes for great storytelling.

These characters, their setting, and the general approach to the film evokes thoughts of the hilarious 2006 film "Colma: The Musical." This earlier festival darling centers around the disenfranchised 20-somethings of a lower-income suburb of San Francisco. You will find yourself humming as you leave your television room.

The realistically understated manner in which "Finest" depicts the stories of this group provides a significant portion of its appeal. The situations are largely believable, there are no grandly staged confrontations, and there is only the slightest hint of a Hollywood ending.

The genesis of Sundance was to provide a venue for this type of film just as the first Comic-Cons were relatively understated events in which a relatively small number of somewhat disenfranchised few gathered to discuss a generally cult hobby. The inclusion of "Finest" at Sundance and the awesome participation of Adam West at Comic-Con nicely show that both events respect their roots.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Finest" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.