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Sundance 2010: 'Skateland' brings back the '80s

January 26, 2010 | 11:46 am

First-time director Anthony Burns ignored the struggling-filmmaker superstition about not coming to Sundance before you have a film in the fest and came last year.

This year he's back with his first feature, "Skateland," and he seemed more than pleased in introducing the film -- he seemed almost zen. "This feels right," he said about having the film open at Sundance.

The movie is set in a small Texas town in 1983 and is the kind of kinda-funny, kinda-earnest coming-of-age story that John Hughes might have made. (It's no surprise that the film is dedicated to Hughes at the end).

Shiloh Hernandez Fernandez stars as a budding writer whose post-high-school life is stagnating. He's the manager of a local skating rink that's closing down, and his girlfriend, played by "Twilight's" Ashley Greene, is going off to college with or without him. Obviously, the kid is going to have some lessons to learn.

The added fun of the film, for those who were alive during the '80s anyway, is all the era-specific details tucked into the corners of the frame. "He-Man's" Battle Cat is tucked onto a shelf, the teen writer works on a Commodore 64 hooked up to the tiny TV in his bedroom, and teenagers practice their moonwalk. And that's not even touching on the soundtrack, which includes all the usual '80s suspects including A Flock of Seagulls, REO Speedwagon and Talking Heads, among many others.

The crowd seemed mostly positive on the film, though one female audience member groused afterwards, "It's fine, I guess, but 'Dazed and Confused' was better."

Still, most everyone we talked to -- both young and old -- seemed to like it, as you'll see below:

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Sundance Film Festival


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