Breaking! Kids Coming of Age at Sundance 2008!

Familiar themes still flood the festival zone, but a couple of gems manage to shine through

Ballast is a movie marked by the most unusual mix of inspirations: Charles Burnett’s impressionistic renderings of black American life, the Dardenne brothers’ neo-realist city symphonies, and Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ ecstatic widescreen exploration of rural vistas. But Hammer has digested those influences and formed from them a wholly original meditation on lost souls trying to gain a foothold in a bleak, treacherous landscape. It is, I think, the single most impressive film to premiere at Sundance since Half Nelson in 2006, and the high-water mark by which all others in and out of this year’s competition should be judged.

What Just Happened? Barry Levinson put Robert De Niro and Catherine Keener in a stinker—that's what.
What Just Happened? Barry Levinson put Robert De Niro and Catherine Keener in a stinker—that's what.

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