January 22, 2008

Sundance. Sleep Dealer.

Sleep Dealer "Synthesizing the concerns of third world with elements of mainstream sci-fi films like Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days and David Cronenberg's Existenz and a touch of William Gibson's futuristic cynicism, Sleep Dealer, Alex Rivera's long awaited directorial debut premiered last night at Sundance to a mostly appreciative audience, although this particular critic was left cold by the film's lack of urgency and it's simplistic take on the challenges of globalization," writes Brandon Harris.

"In some ways an independent, Spanish-language version of The Matrix, Sleep Dealer posits that the technology that helps make the world a global community will also enslave its less fortunate," writes John Horn in the Los Angeles Times. "In Rivera's story, laborers in Mexico are able to connect electronically to work sites in the United States via wires plugged into nodes installed on their bodies. So when a worker moves his arm, for example, a robot arm moves 2,000 miles away. 'Human labor will never disappear,' says Rivera. 'For every technical advance we see, there is someone, somewhere, who is building it - a ghost in the machine.'"

"Sleep Dealer is a film with lofty dramatic aspirations, an ambitious visual palette and a folksy heart," writes Steve Ramos in indieWIRE. "To their credit, Rivera and co-writer David Riker have come up with something unique and yet engaging; the nervy combination of social politics with future shock storytelling. While Sleep Dealer sometimes skips a narrative beat, it's a fantastic journey."

IndieWIRE interviews Rivera.

Update, 1/23: The Reeler interviews Rivera.

Updates, 1/26: IndieWIRE's Peter Knegt reports that Sleep Dealer has won this year's Alfred P Sloan Prize.

"Much of Sleep Dealer resonates with multiple metaphors, both political and aesthetic," writes Howard Karren at In the Company of Glenn. "Rivera, a first-born American of Mexican heritage, rarely sees anything in simple terms." As for the Prize, "The foundation cash heaps on a bit more irony, which is probably apt: Sloan was a GM corporate baron and a union buster."

Update, 1/28: "Rivera and co-screenwriter David Riker have come up with an arresting vision, one that's teeming with cruelty condoned for the sake of capitalism," writes Alison Willmore at the IFC Blog. "The film's weakness is the story that carries us through it."

Update, 1/30: "It is films like Sleep Dealer that give hope for Sundance's future," writes B Ruby Rich in the Guardian. "Rivera revives the promise of an American independent cinema that can intervene in our world, imagine the worst, hope for the best - and entertain like mad along the way."

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Posted by dwhudson at January 22, 2008 6:10 AM