Saturday, December 20, 2008
One advantage to going to a shorts program, is we are the only people at Academy Award parties who may actually recognize a few of the nominees in the short film category. We also tend to do well in the foreign film category as many of those films get their U.S. start at Sundance. While we may have missed the "big picture" nominees, we have a small (and I do mean small) advantage at picking the winners in those ancillary categories.
This year there are two shorts programs in particular that caught my eye. One includes a film called Pencil Face and somehow involves a giant, creepy pencil the other includes a film called Acting for the Camera. (I always like it when the movie industry turns the camera back on itself -- aka The Player.) Both of them seem to have more humor than creepiness. Last year we heard the documentary shorts were excellent, so that might be worth looking into this year.
Tickets for Shorts Programs are typically not hard to get, so I have not put any of those programs on our list yet. They will be useful for filling-in holes later, so we may add a shorts program at the end of our ticket-buying adventure.
I have managed to narrow the 100 films that are screening while we are there to 42 that I really want to see. As 14 movies (in 3 1/2 days) is our record, we will have to narrow our choices further. Scheduling and proximity to other theaters are the next factors. It is almost impossible to see a 9:00am movie at Eccles Theatre and make a 12:00pm movie at The Egyptian (on the other side of town.) It's always great when we can score back-to-back movies in the same venue. There are shuttles running all over town, but they tend to get jammed. Jammed with people and jammed in the city's extra traffic. With parking at a minimum, they are still the way to go, we just know to allow ample time.
Park City has ten "theaters" that show Sundance movies during the festival. I put theater in quotes, because one is a converted hotel conference room and one is housed in an inflatable dome over the Racquet Club's tennis courts. This year, I have noticed there is a new theater in the line-up: The Temple Theatre. In Utah, the word temple is typically associated with the Mormon Church, so I'm very curious about this venue. There are many, many, many, many, many, many Sundance movies that I'm am certain would not garner church approval. No High School Musical or Marley and Me here!
Once the scheduling and venues are worked out, the box office and ticket- availability gods take over. I, being the geek that I am, will develop a spreadsheet with my first through third choices for each time slot, taking into account the preferences of my fellow movie-goers, but once the frenzy of ticket buying begins and movies start to sell out, desperation sets in and all bets are off. So far, we have some great ticket buying time slots, so I'm optimistic this year.
Since it looks like our treacherous weather is going to continue for awhile, I have rented four Sundance films that I haven't yet seen. Provided we continue to have power, I will watch those over the next few days and share my thoughts. If the power goes out, I guess it's back to the Film Guide ... by flashlight.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In total there are 227 never-before-seen films screening at Sundance 2009. Each movie will be shown at least four times, with the first screenings of the day happening at 8:00am and the last at midnight. We intend to watch films all day Friday through Monday (January 16-19) and hope to see all of them in Park City. Eliminating the films that don't play on those days and/or that play in Salt Lake or Ogden, we have exactly 100 opportunities to see movies in those four days.
Now some movies will get eliminated for other reasons. For example, we try not to follow a late night movie with an 8:00am movie. In fact, I have made it my personal goal to avoid 8:00am movies altogether this year. Sometimes, however, the desire to see a decent movie and the lack of available tickets in other time slots makes this unavoidable. At the very least I hope to avoid seeing a movie at the Racquet Club at 8:00am -- it's f-in' freezing in there!
Here are a few other red flags:
The "Park City at Midnight" category tends to have movies that really shouldn't be viewed in the light of day. One to avoid this year is "Grace", where a woman carries her stillborn child to term and then it miraculously comes to life, but requires horrible sacrifices on the mom's part to remain alive. ICK!!!
Similarly, the "New Frontier" category highlights experimental films, which tend to be more art than entertainment and, therefore, are completely wasted on me. There are two films that are described as meditative (which I interpret to mean there is absolutely no dialogue.) In one of those, the director (and I quote) "...often uses her two sons in the main roles of her frequently violent, but visually charming, films." PASS!
And finally, in the "Spectrum" category -- dedicated to "the creative spirit in independent filmmaking" -- there's a film by David Russo called The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle. As far as I can tell, the main character finds himself one of a band of janitorial misfits who eat magic cookies which cause them each to give birth to a small blue fish. HUH?
Here are a few films that did pique my interest:
I Love You Phillip Morris -- from the makers of Bad Santa (which I wanted to hate, but laughed too much to find that to be true) comes the tale on a con-man (Jim Carrey) who falls in love with a fellow inmate (Ewan McGregor). Need I say more?
One Day in a Life -- Beautiful Italian men in swimsuits (see photo.) Who cares if it's subtitled -- do you know how cold it is in Park City in January?!
Good Hair -- A documentary by Chris Rock about African American hair culture, which was initiated by his young daughter lamenting the fact that she doesn't have "good hair."
Those are just a few of the films that caught my eye on my first pass through the guide. You too can read about all 227 films on www.sundance.org/festival. Just click on the film guide tab and download the PDF.
Monday, December 15, 2008
In the meantime forget stockings hung with care, our preparations include the following:
1) We have purchased our airline tickets (and are saving our pennies so our bags can also go with us.) Of course Delta dropped their dropped their fares a week after we bought our tickets, sigh ...
2) We were able to secure one "Locals Pass" (love those Park City connections). With a good buying time slot, we should be able to purchase our first 12 movie tickets on December 29 or 30.
3) We (and all our friends and family) have registered to buy advance tickets on line. That registration ensures you a ticket-buying time-slot, but does not guarantee that they won't be sold out by the time you get there. We have learned to maximize our chances for an early time-slot by having as many people as possible register.
4) We will be notified of our on-line buying dates and times on December 23rd. It's a lottery and if you don't get a time slot early in the week, chances are good you won't get any tickets.
5) The Film Guide has been posted on-line, so now we can spend the next several weeks developing a target list of movies. This is one of my new favorite Holiday traditions and it involves several colors of highlighters and a the development of a formidable Excel Spreadsheet.
There are over 225 films in this year's guide, each of which shows multiple times in multiple locations. So, in the weeks to come, we will be identifying which ones play while we are there. We will be there the 16-20, but the festival continues on until January 25. We also need to eliminate any films screening in Salt Lake, Ogden and at the Sundance Resort -- we don't want to go there.
We also read the film descriptions carefully -- it's always good to see words like "comedy", "humor" (although "dark humor" can be a red flag) and "uplifting", as so many Sundance films are a little too close to real life. Independent directors love to dramatize degenerate lifestyles and the downtrodden. That's fine every once in while, but when you go to three movies in one day, you need a break. We have also learned (the hard way -- no pun intended) to avoid movies with the word "pornographic" in their title.
And finally, we read the cast listing carefully. If there are big stars, it's harder to get those tickets and the audience will be made up of star-struck fans. (Who, by the way, seem to be the type to text during the film or loudly repeat the dialog for Aunt Mabel throughout the film. Arghh!) Also, if there is no cast listed, this means there are no people in the film -- we also learned this experientially and now there are two hours of my life that I can never get back.
So, in the weeks to come, look for the trials and tribulations of ticket buying, the films that are catching our attention and our actual viewing schedule.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Grand Jury Prize (USA)
Dramatic: Frozen River *
Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema)
Documentary: Man on Wire
Dramatic: The King of Ping Pong
Documentary: Fields of Fuel
Dramatic: The Wackness *
Audience Awards (World Cinema)
Dramatic: Captain Abu Raed
Coming up, tales of my difficulty transitioning from days filled with make-believe to days filled with volunteer projects, dog walking, grocery shopping, etc. Also, Portland's International Film Festival Starts in less than two weeks, maybe we can take in a few movies there and share the experience.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I got in very late last night and spent the whole day catching-up with my kids and working on all the things I put on hold for a week. I did find time to add some pictures to the blog (starting with Day 1). Now that all is said and done, I would rank the films I saw (excluding the Shorts Program) in this order of preference:
- Smart People
- The Last Word
- Diminished Capacity
- Sunshine Cleaning
- The Wackness
- Pretty Bird
- Good Dick
- Be Kind Rewind
- Frozen River
- Sling Shot Hip Hop
- Anywhere, U.S.A.
- Death in Love
- A Good Day to Be Black and Sexy
Anvil! The True Story of Anvil
STRANDED: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains
What Just Happened
The Great Buck Howard
Jois and I have made a pact to try to see at least 6 more of this year's Sundance films before year's end. I'll keep you posted on that.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
This movie starred Billy Crudup as a wanna-be entrepreneur, who convinces his best friend to invest in a personal jet pack start-up business. He finds an out-of-work (and very bitter) aerospace engineer (played by Paul Giamotti) to help them. As with many shady business deals, the holes in this one start to show up and sh_t happens. It boils down to a story about three men coming from very different places and finding themselves working together.
The director was there to answer questions and he was this funny, hyper, articulate guy. (It's not too clear, but that's his photo to the right.) It was definitely the most entertaining Q & A session we have had with only one person at the mic. For example, when describing the process of writing the story and developing the characters, he said: "It really flowed, I just pooped it out onto the Mac." It almost helped me to get over the fact the the amazingly beautiful Billy Crudup wasn't there. Oh well, I got to look at him for 2 hours on the big screen prior to that.
This crazy movie was about the unlikely relationship that develops between an 18-year-old, drug dealer (played by Josh Peck of Nickelodeon fame) and his pot-smoking psychiatrist (played by Ben Kingsley.) It takes place in New York in 1994 and the plot develops around the fact that Josh's character falls in love with the psychiatrist's stepdaughter (played by Olivia Thirlby.) Mary Kate Olsen (who everyone has been buzzing about up here) has about a 7-minute role and Jane Adams (one of my favorite lesser-known actresses) also has a small role.
First of all, casting Ghandi as the psychiatrist and Josh from Drake and Josh as the drug dealer is just crazy, but somehow it works. Kingsley and Peck both give great performances. It was somewhat disheartening to me to see 1994 treated as ancient history, but then I saw the director -- turns out he was graduating high school around that time. If you are not offended by a lot of pot smoking and other drug/alcohol use, this is a tight story, with great actors and a fabulous soundtrack.
Tomorrow I hope to post a bunch of photos and I have some final thoughts about "how to Sundance," movie theater etiquette and what not to wear.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk (a part-time Portland Resident who also wrote Fight Club) this is the story of a sex addict who works for a Colonial Theme Park and is caring for his senile mother. Now there's a fun premise for a movie! It stars Sam Rockwell, Angelica Houston and Brad Henke. Angelica Houston, always a great performer, doesn't disappoint. While there are a few plot twists, the story really lacks substance and the sex addict stuff gets old fast. Palahniuk's web site says the movie was bought early this morning by Searchlight Pictures so, if it seems like your cup of tea, it should be in theaters eventually. I'm sure it will come to Portland because the author has a big fan base there.
It was fun having the director, Brad Henke and Chuck Palahniuk there to answer questions. Palahniuk collaborated very heavily on the film, so it is pretty true to the book. I should have taken a picture of him though. He had this great 1950's Stephen Douglas (of My Three Sons) look going that I thought was really cool (all he was missing was the pipe.)
"Anywhere" is actually Asheville, North Carolina and this is a very regional and personal flick. So personal, that I can't imagine it finding a wide audience. Told in three parts, "Penance," "Loss" and" Ignorance"; using a cast of first-time actors from the Asheville-area; and termed autobiographical by the director -- this is a very unconventional movie.
The three parts are more like three short stories. The first is about a redneck (it's OK, they call themselves that) relationship gone awry. The second is about a girl and her uncle trying to cope with life's realities. And the third is about prejudice in the suburbs. There are frequent references to moustaches, pistachios and the tooth fairy (your guess is as good as mine.) It does have some funny moments. Our favorite line was: "Being in love is like having a whole pile of dumb ass dumped on top of you." And the director's daughter who plays the young girl in the second story was terrific!
Death in Love
I don't even know how to write about this graphic, disturbing and tortured film. Jois and I are so bummed that it was our last movie of the day, because it will be hard to clear our heads of some of the images and themes in this movie in order to go to sleep.
The director wanted to explore how the baggage of parents (even from things that happened before their kids were born) trickles down into their childrens' lives. That's all fine and well, but he used the Holocaust as the past event that is still affecting the family. I don't know about you, but I feel the Holocaust is a little bigger than the typical "baggage". The flashback holocaust images were gruesome, the contemporary characters were so messed up it was hard to root for any of them, there were numerous sex and masturbation scenes, and not one moment of levity. As one guy we talked to on the way out sarcastically put it: "The perfect date movie."
It starred Jacqueline Bisset, Josh Lucas, Lukas Haas and Adam Brody. They were all there, but most of the questions were for the director, so they didn't get much chance to speak. There were also three female actors who had been nude and/or in compromising positions throughout the movie. How they get up there and talk to an audience who just saw them having sex on an enormous screen is beyond me!
Tomorrow is our last day. If Jenn's out of commission again tomorrow, she will have to work on Thursday. So, we sold our Thursday tickets and I'm flying home with Jois late tomorrow night. We are seeing two movies tomorrow -- let's hope we end on a better note than we did today.
Monday, January 21, 2008
The Last Word
If you get a chance, see this movie! It stars Wes Bentley, Winona Rider and Ray Romano. It's the story of a man who lives a very solitary life and earns his living writing people's suicide notes. The story evolves when he lets some people get close to him. While suicide is an unlikely topic for a comedy, this film is loaded with laughs and never crosses the line between comedy and good taste.
Ray Romano and a twelve-year-old girl who has a small part were the only cast members there, but the Q & A was great. Romano and the Director, Geoff Haley, (of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame) practically had a stand-up comedy routine going.
Ballast is an independent film in every sense of the word: new director, a cast of first-time film actors, shot on location, simple story line, etc. This director wanted to capture the sorrowful, bleak feel of the Mississippi Delta in winter. In casting it, he scoured community centers and churches in the area to find local actors. It has no soundtrack and long lonely shots of the area. The story follows several characters who are trying to find themselves after the suicide of a family-member. (Have you noticed there are a lot of films with a suicide theme in this year's festival?)
The story is as sorrowful as the setting, making it a difficult movie to watch. I also had trouble with the fact that it was all shot with a hand-held camera. The jumpy footage was very distracting for me, especially since we were sitting in the third row. In general, the rawness of the film probably will preclude it from any extensive release, so I think it will be tough to find after this ... and that's OK.
I loved this movie, but I felt a little guilty seeing it without my husband because it takes place in Missouri (his old stomping ground) and is full of baseball references. (I called him after it and promised to see it again with him.) It's about a young man (Matthew Broderick) who suffers a head injury and is experiencing short term memory loss. He is asked to look in on his aging uncle (Alan Alda) who is starting to show signs of senility. During the visit, his uncle shows him a rare baseball card that they decide to sell at a card show in Chicago.
If you are a baseball fan from the Midwest, you will love the references to Cardinal fans vs. Cubs fans. If you know of someone who is getting senile, you will appreciate Alan Alda's performance. If you enjoy a heartwarming story, world class acting and smart comedy, this is the movie for you. It now holds the position for best film I have seen so far.
Many of the cast (Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Louis C.K. and Virginia Madsen were there), so the Q & A was terrific. I have great photos, but I'm still having trouble loading them. Stay tuned.
My big accomplishment today was to approach Geoffrey Gilmore (the Director of the Sundance Film Festival) and, rather than ask him for a job like I wanted to, I thanked him for all his hard work, told him we were thrilled with the films we were seeing and commended him for not looking completely exhausted. He was nice about it as he inched slowly away from me -- I think he's more tired than he looks.
Tomorrow we have to be up by 6:30 AM to make an 8:30 movie, so it's bed time for me!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Shorts Program 1
This film was packed and people had camped out in the waitlist line for hours trying to get in. Why? Because it starred Jack Black and was a comedy. It was a thoughtful story that takes place in Passaic, New Jersey. What's interesting is it was written and directed by a French man, who live in Paris. It tells the story of a young black man (played by Mos Def) who is entrusted with the care of his mentor's (Danny Glover) video store for a few days. His best friend (Jack Black) messes everything up and in the process of making things right they become filmmakers. I won't tell you any more, except to say it will be in theaters soon and, while it has some teenage comedy elements, it's worth seeing.
This quickly bumped Sunshine Cleaning out of its position as my favorite film so far. Quality acting, original writing and very human characters all added up to an excellent film. It stars Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Hayden Church, Ellen Paige (of Juno Fame) and Ashton Holmes. It's the story of a widowed English Professor, his mixed-up family and his unlikely romance with a former graduate student. Thomas Hayden Church plays the screw-up adopted brother of the professor and he is the only one brave enough to call things as they are. He also has the funniest lines. Ellen Paige is brilliant as the super-achieving, Young Republican daughter. And, of course, you can't go wrong with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid in the leading roles.
The entire cast (excluding Ellen Paige -- it seems she's pretty these days), the director and the screenwriter were there to answer questions, but Thomas Hayden Church stole the show. He claimed to have a letter from Ellen, which he went on to read (see photo on right) and it was hysterical! We were, however, a little annoyed by all the star-seekers in the audience, who proceeded to gush over all the stars as they entered the theater, stood up to take photos, applauded after every word they said, etc. It's the World Premier people! Those with a role in the film are there! Get over it!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
We then had a break, so Jois and I headed over to our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Chubasca -- or, as Jenn calls it, El Chubbies. It is fast, fresh, inexpensive and authentic, plus it has the most amazing salsa bar. It's also in walking distance of both Eccles and Prospector Square Theaters.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Young@Heart has been "picked-up" (that's movie lingo) by Fox Searchlight Productions, so look for it in the theaters some time this year. Here's a photo of the husband and wife filmmaking team (on the left), the director of the young@heart chorus (the guy with the mic) and the cinematographer. Members of the chorus were going to be at the Park City Screenings, but most of those happened after we were gone, so we missed out.
Jenn and I raced to the box office this morning to pick up all 54 of our movie tickets. We sold the tickets for a 10:00am Shorts Program and headed to Starbucks, where we had our first celebrity siting: Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame. I've never seen it or heard of him (although he did look familiar) and had to trust Jenn on this one.
The Sundance folks are pushing a text messaging information line called "Cha Cha", so we texted them and asked if they knew if he was here. They replied that no Sorbo-sitings had been reported, but Mary Kate Olsen was seen leaving the high school performing arts center smoking a cigarette. Apparently celebrities don't have to follow the rules.
After a few quick errands, we headed to Prospector Theater for a documentary called Slingshot Hip Hop. The film is about the emerging hip hip culture of occupied Palestine. It was story about some kids needing a voice and finding it through hip hop and how that voice is giving new hope to future generations. The best part, and why I truly love Sundance, was that the rappers were there. They gave a brief live performance after the show and answered questions.
It was no small feat to get them to the United States. In fact of the three-member group from Gaza only one was able to get a VISA and it sounds like that involved a bunch of red tape and almost didn't happen. Four of the rappers sat behind us during the film, so before it started I asked if I could take their picture ("yes" -- see right.) I also asked them if they had seen the film yet ("no") and if they were nervous ("mostly excited.") Can you imagine, not being allowed to leave Gaza (a 26 x 4-mile area) and then suddenly finding yourself in Park City, Utah?
You can check out one of the groups on their website: www.dampalestine.com. They don't have any radio or TV where they live, so they use the Internet to promote themselves and sell albums.
We're picking up Jois at the airport late this afternoon and seeing another documentary in Salt Lake tonight. We'll get home late, so I will write about it tomorrow.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
If you ever get the chance to got to Sundance, here are some of the essentials to pack:
- Warm clothes, especially socks (Save the sequined ball gown for the Academy Awards, at Sundance it's all about the turtleneck and parka.
- Warm and comfortable boots or shoes with traction
- Hat, scarf, gloves
- Camera, Cell phone and Chargers for both
- A refillable water bottle
- Chapstick , Hand lotion, Eye drops (Have I mentioned yet how dry it is in Park City?)
- Sunglasses (there's nothing like coming out of a dark movie theater into the sunlight and snow glare outside -- especially for us Oregonians who have mole eyes.)
- Power Bars or some type of portable food (We often don't have time to eat, but you just need enough calories to get you to the next theater.)
That's it for now. Better finish packing. Checked my flight and it's on time, so it looks like it's all systems go.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I bet you can figure out which of the 12 films we saw made me cry. Those films are:
Away from Her
Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent and Olympia Dukakis in a film adapted from a short story that illustrates the struggles of Alzheimers. Yup, it’s another uplifting Sundance film. Actually, in the hands of three such seasoned and respected actors, and a young, risk-taking director (Sarah Polley), the film becomes a love story, rather than a film about dementia. (You guessed it –I cried.)
Hear and Now
This was another love story – within a documentary. Irene Taylor Brodsky (A Portland filmmaker – yay!) turns the camera on her childhood, her family, and most importantly her deaf parents. Not only did they raise three hearing children, but they decide in their 60’s that they want to get cochlear implants and join the hearing world. The result is a deeply moving and personal account of these two remarkable people. The only nod to Portland is a brief sound clip of Pink Martini (totally fun Portland band) when Brodsky brings her now-hearing parents the CD to listen too. After the film, her whole family came to the stage and her parents received a standing ovation. Ok, got to go, I’m starting to tear-up all over again.
See this movie if you have the chance! This documentary tells the story of three children in Northern Uganda who have experienced unimaginable atrocities at the hands of the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. They live and go to school in a refugee camp and their school is the first in the war zone to qualify to compete in a national music and dance competition. The documentary weaves their horrific stories in with joyful singing and dancing, and follows their preparation for and performance in this contest.
Children witnessing the violent deaths of their parents, children recruited as child soldiers and children singing – I was a mess. Then, to make matters worse, the filmmakers came out and took a picture of us to send back to the children, as we were the first audience to see the finished film. We gave those kids a standing ovation and the waterworks started all over again. I still get “misty” just thinking about it.
Four Sheets to the Wind
Although this movie starts with a suicide and an unceremonious dumping of the body into a pond, it was actually a warm story about family, tradition and the struggle to find oneself in a small, rural community. The mostly Native-American cast, an unseen ancestor who interjects words of wisdom throughout, and the rural Oklahoma scenery gave this film a simple charm, while telling a contemporary story.
Jeffrey Blitz was at Sundance several years ago (before my time) with his film, Spellbound, a documentary about children competing in the National Spelling Bee. If I remember right, Rocket Science is his first fictional work and he also wrote the screenplay. Drawing somewhat on his experience as a stutterer, he casts Reece Daniel Thompson as a high school boy who stutters, yet somehow gets talked into joining the debate team. As painful as it is to watch him struggle to get his words out and be teased mercilessly, the film is chock full of humor and heart.
I probably put this on my ticket-buying list because Amy Sedaris is in it (along with Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale). I typically think of Sedaris as a comedic actress, but it seeems she can be a serious, dramatic actress as well. This was no comedy. It’s about a divorced couple who, while still trying to cope with that change, experience a tragedy that rocks their world even further. Let’s just say children in peril (not my favorite) and a tragic ending (also not a fan.)
Starting Out in the Evening
Frank Langella plays an out-of-print novelist who has sheltered himself away from the world while he tries to complete a book he’s been working on for 10 years. His sheltered life is disrupted when an overly ambitious graduate student shows up on his doorstep and decides to make him the subject of her thesis. At the same time, his daughter (played by Lili Taylor) is having a mid-life crisis of her own. This is a quiet movie – there’s not much action when the main characters are writers and researchers – but it touched on the real-world issues of aging, family and living an examined life.
On a Tightrope
Like War Dance, this film followed the story of four orphaned children. In this documentary, the children are Uigher, which is China’s largest Muslim minority. They live in Northern China under the strict control of the Chinese government. The children featured in the film are training to be tightrope walkers, a Uigher tradition. During production, the Director was under ongoing scrutiny by the Chinese government. I believe they also reviewed and edited all his film footage. It’s a fascinating story about a population I know little about. Unfortunately, we saw War Dance, with its stunning cinematography and gripping story, first, so this film paled in comparison.
Driving with My Wife’s Lover
This Korean film (with English subtitles) just didn’t translate for us. We had a hard time following the story and keeping the characters straight. At 9:00 at night, after a day of great movies, it definitely wasn’t worth the effort.
This very fun Australian flick was released in the U.S. under the title: “Introducing the Dwight Family.” What a watered down name! It sounds way too much like other recent American movies (i.e. Meet the Fockers.) It stars Brenda Blethlyn (I had never heard of her, turns out she is an extremely well-respected British actress) as an aging performer who is trying to keep her career afloat while juggling a day job, resenting her contentious ex-husband, and caring for a disabled son. She really relies of the help of her other son, so when he falls in love, it throws their life into turmoil. Full of wacky characters, energy and life – we thoroughly enjoyed this film.
Billy Crudup is absolutely gorgeous in this movie, even though he plays a fairly unlikable character – a psychologically unstable author of children’s books. (He and his illustrator/friend are inspired to write "Marty the Beaver" after seeing a porn movie -- how warped is that?) I think this was my favorite movie of this trip. (Although the fact that I haven’t seen any sign of it since, indicates that I may not be the best judge of movies.) Oh well, it had a great cast (Mandy Moore as the love interest, Dianne Weist as her mom, and Bob Balaban as his agent); a quirky, root-for-the-underdog story, and just enough comedy.
The cast was there for the Q & A. My palpitations for Billy cooled off a bit when I saw him in person – I’m hoping the facial hair was for a role. And, in a bid for stupidest Sundance question of all time, a guy in the audience asked Mandy Moore if she would marry him.
This film did make it into theaters and I didn't like it nearly as much as Dedication. It may be because the story revolves around a Brittany-, Paris-, Lindsey-type and they seem to be the newsmakers these days. It tells the story of a homeless kid who befriends a slimy freelance photographer and together they get tangled up with the “pop-starlet-of-the-month.” Steve Buscemi (who looks like he hasn’t been outside in the past 10 years), Michael Pitt and Alison Lohman star in it. It has some funny moments, but much of the premise is too unbelievable for my taste.
Shorts Program III
(Just an aside, there are usually 5 Shorts programs, plus a documentary shorts collection to choose from -- thus the numerical titles.)
Cubs: a 10-minute, intense film about kids chasing and abusing a fox. The Tube with a Hat: 23 minutes of a boy and his father struggling to carry their broken TV (also their most prized possession) through the bogs of Romania to the repair shop. BITCH, it barely takes any time at all to realize the main character is one -- truly wicked. The Grass Grows Green: A look at the military through the eyes of a Marine recruiter. Bomb: I don’t remember this flick at all. The Substitute: this was a charming 15-minute Italian film about a business man who ducks out of his day job and pretends to be a substitute teacher for awhile.
Movies we could have seen in 2007, but didn't: Black Snake Moan, Once (excellent soundtrack), and Waitress (a breath of fresh air with a tragic real life backstory.)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Also, many Sundance movies are very heavy, so when you do happen to see one of the few comedies – they are way more funny and appreciated than they would be at home. Case in point, this first movie from 2006:
This is a British film in a similar vein as The Full Monty. Only this time it is a son trying to save his family’s shoe factory and teaming with a cross-dressing, cabaret singer to do it. It’s the stodgy and the flamboyant thrown into a work environment together. It’s got the usual understated British humor and a lot of heart.
This documentary followed four girls with eating disorders through 6 months at a residential treatment center. Full of alarming facts and difficult to watch, it puts faces to this illness and really illustrates what a struggle it is for these girls. A few of the girls were there to answer questions and talk about their continuing struggles.
Maggie Gyllenhaal (a Sundance regular) stars as a drug addict just released from prison. She is trying to get her life back on track, but really doesn’t know how. She tries to reunite with her 5-year old daughter, only to discover her sister and her husband want to continue raising the child. Gyllenhaal gives an amazing performance in this painful and emotional movie.
Not a movie we discussed much after the fact. It is a quirky tale of a couple of college-age guys who are pretty typical: totally nonchalant bout life and its responsibilities, just looking for the next good time. It takes place in Athens Georgia and the best part is the off-the-wall church the lead character attends. I’m thinking a couple of 40-something white Moms are just the wrong demographic for this movie, either that or it really wasn’t that good.
This was a movie about a dysfunctional family (a Dad, his brother and his two adult sons) trying to survive in a depressed steel town. Dad is incarcerated, the youngest son is drifting aimlessly, the oldest son is married and having an affair and the uncle wants everyone to be more responsible for their actions. There aren’t many movies that focus on male relationships and maybe it’s because they are difficult to watch. This one was that, but was also suspenseful in a way that kept you engaged.
Eve and the Fire Horse
This delightful film, directed and written by first-timer Julia Kwan (A Chinese-Canadian) was about a Chinese immigrant family and centered on their two young daughters. This is what I love about Sundance … this was the first feature film for the director, the two young girls had never acted before, the story was completely unique and it all came together in this quiet gem of a film.
Little Miss Sunshine
This film made it to the box office and so probably most of you have seen or heard of it. We absolutely loved it, partly due to the “Sundance Factor” and partly due to the fact that the cast was there afterward and they were clearly having a good time. Whether you liked it or not, you have to admit that starting with a Dad who is motivational speaker (and a bad one at that) is a hysterical premise. Have I mentioned yet how much I like Greg Kinnear?!
This Danish flick was way out there, a dark comedy that takes place almost entirely at a small country church. A wacky cast of characters is thrown together, and what results is an exploration of the struggle between good and evil. This is definitely not a mainstream movie, but it had its funny moments.
Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon
Peter Richardson, A Philomath High School graduate, turns the camera on a controversy that took over his home town. For more than 40 years, a local timber family has given college scholarships (no strings attached) to every Philomath student who graduates from high school. Unfortunately, the foundation is now up in arms about the liberal bias (read: “anti-logging”) being taught at the high school and further perpetuated in college. What resulted was an intense fight (that even caught the attention of the national media) involving the school board, the foundation and the students. For those of us who live in Oregon it clearly illustrated the dichotomy between our urban and rural areas, and underscores the challenge of having an economy based on an out-moded industry.
This film was a huge undertaking. The director and screenwriters attempted to translate Charles Bukowski’s second novel and several short stories into a movie. I read some of Bukowski’s work after the fact, and it turns out his writing is as dark and anguished as the movie was, so I guess they did a pretty good job. Matt Dillon starred and I have a whole new perspective on him after seeing him in the Q & A – A) he’s beautiful (already knew that) and B) he’s smart and articulate (apparently he reads heavy duty stuff like Bukowski regularly.) Lili Taylor (I’ve loved her since Mystic Pizza) and Marisa Tomei were also in it. I’m always amazed that those actors can watch themselves frolicking naked on the screen and then come out and answer questions from the 200 people who just saw them naked.
Off the Black
Nick Nolte plays Ray, an alcoholic high school umpire who has failed in almost every aspect of his life. When a troubled teen vandalizes his house, Ray gets even by forcing him to pose as his son at his high school reunion. Nick Nolte gives a stunning performance and Trevor Morgan is excellent as the teen.
Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner
As the title states, this is a documentary about playwright Tony Kushner who wrote Angels in America. The film covers three years from 9/11 to 2004 and shows his work as a political activist and outspoken voice for tolerance (he is Jewish and gay) and social justice. After the film, you are left with a deep respect for Mr. Kushner and his passion. You are also appreciative to the director for doing her subject justice and letting us in on his life.
Shorts Program 1
Six films ranging from 3 to 30 minutes that include a metaphorical tale about drug use using bugs (way creepy), a story of a 14-year-old’s wedding to a polygamist (creepy for different reasons), and a hysterical film about a guy who takes a girl to the Holocaust Museum for a first date (turns out this is not such a good idea.)
Monday, January 14, 2008
Everyone was very flexible and some people actually wanted to go skiing instead of see movies (what’s up with that?), so it all worked out. We decided if we were to have a big group again, I would resign as the event planner and everyone would be on their own to buy tickets and arrange transportation.
I won’t go into the cancelled flight, and constant buying and selling of tickets. Instead, here’s a recap of the movies we did see:
This comedy pairs Pierce Brosnan, a hit man, and Greg Kinnear, a traveling salesman, as “buddies” (although Kinnear’s character is a very unwilling buddy.) It was smart, funny and original, plus Greg Kinnear is the actor I most want to invite to dinner sometime. As if seeing Pierce Brosnan onscreen wearing only a Speedo and cowboy boots wasn’t enough, the entire cast was there to answer questions afterward. They were somewhat hung over as the film had premiered the night before, a party had followed (we weren’t invited) and this was all happening at an 8:30 AM screening the next day.
Inside Deep Throat
This documentary about the cultural impact of the 1972 film, Deep Throat was titillating and fascinating at the same time -- think documentary interjected with porn. Despite the clips from the movie and erotic graphics, the filmmakers used archival footage that captured the controversy around the film 30 years ago, interviewed just about everyone from the film who is still alive, and weren’t afraid to tackle the societal implications of the time.
From an interview with the cheesy director, now living in a trailer park, to the mob-affiliated and very shady distribution system, the back story on this movie was fascinating. Harry Reams (it's spelled differently!), who starred in Deep Throat is now a Realtor in Park City, so he came to the screening and answered questions. It was one of those “only at Sundance” experiences!
Upside of Anger
Kevin Costner (not a fan – his new wife came to the screening with big glasses and fur – yuck!) and Joan Allen (love her!) both play very angry people, who don’t really like each other, but somehow need each other. Allen also plays the mom of four teenage daughters, who were all brilliantly portrayed. This flick made it into distribution, so I’m sure you can rent it. Romance, drama (there are teenage girls in it after all), fine acting and a surprise ending all add up to a worthwhile rental.
One of the many films we saw this year which revolved around high schoolers, this definitely showed the dark side of the high school years. It starts with a murder and quickly becomes all about an underground world involving drugs, gangs and acceptance. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the lead so solemnly that it takes a while to realize he is the same kid who played Tommy in Third Rock from the Sun. It was a well-crafted film, but a little too violent for my taste. (I may be naïve, but I still like to think of high school kids as somewhat innocent.)
Forty Shades of Blue
I don’t even know how to describe this film. It was a moody, story about a young Russian woman living with a legendary (but washed-up) old music producer (Rip Torn).The music producer’s son enters the picture and the story becomes downright brooding. It’s a difficult film, but engaging nonetheless and Rip Torn’s (Jois didn’t believe that was his real name) performance is remarkable. I also loved the set, which was a mid-century modern home that was obviously stuck in 1962. In the flashback scenes, it looked exactly the same. We attended a noon screening and got the strong impression that Rip Torn was drunk for the Q & A. He didn’t make any sense at all!
This was a quiet film, similar to Evergreen from last year. It was very regional in focus (taking part in the Southeast), it had very believable characters and it was beautifully filmed. It tells three stories (one about adoption rights, one about saving Loggerhead Turtles and one about racism), each in a different year on Mother’s Day. I suppose the three stories related to each other somehow, but three years later, I don’t remember how.
Back to high school for a wicked romp of a flick -- think Legally Blond meets Fatal Attraction. Evan Rachel Wood (who we also saw in Upside of Anger) plays a rich, conniving sophomore at a private Beverly Hills high school. This satire is full of talent (James Woods, Jane Krakowski and Selma Blair are also in it), but it is the writing that really takes you for a ride. Our last screening in 2005, it was a great movie to end with.
The Emperor’s Journey
The start of the penguin craze. This was the original, French version of March of the Penguins. The script and music were completely different from the American version. If the original is on the DVD, be sure to check it out. It was told from the penguin’s perspective and was very poetic. The music can only be described as icy and, if I remember right, was provided by a Canadian singer.
Unfortunately, this was the first movie we saw after a terrible night trying to get to Utah after our flight was cancelled, so I kept doing the head-bob. Fortunately, after the lights came up, the charming French director and cinematographer were there to answer all our questions and talk about the 13 months they spent in Antarctica.
This is a terrific movie about familial clashes. Specifically, a well-educated, successful, closeted- lesbian, Chinese-American woman is an anomaly to her traditional Chinese relatives. Her life is completely disrupted when her 48-year-old mom shows up on her doorstep … pregnant. One of the few female directors we have seen, Alice Wu, creates a film that is funny, smart, warm and honest.
Another film directed by a woman, this was a simple tale of a decent family taking in a loner/thief who befriends their son. While you wait for something to go horribly wrong, you start to realize this story isn’t going that way at all. It’s a movie about decency, acceptance and family love. It’s not at all gushy though. I think this is due to the strength of the cast, who are all unknowns (at least to me) and the realism of the characters.
The Joy of Life
A lesbian reading from her sex journals, still shots of deserted street corners in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge as the number-one suicide landmark in the world … hated it.
Shorts Program IV
Seven films ranging from 4 to 25 minutes each: America’s Biggest Dick (I’ll give you a hint, his last name is Cheney), Berocca (stars a disabled man and all 13 minutes are very hard to watch), Eating (don’t remember it), Everything’s Gone Green (directed by Aaron Ruell who played Kip in Napoleon Dynamite), Goodnight Irene (directed by a Native American and takes place in a medical clinic on a reservation), Stronger (a nasty girl fight in a beauty salon) and Wasp. Wasp won the 2005 Academy Award for the best live action short. It was only 25 minutes long, but it brilliantly told a heartbreaking story of poverty, desperation and parenting.
Jois and I are the only ones who care about the shorts category during the Academy Awards (we also care about the documentaries), as we are the only ones who have seen any of them. They range from baffling (think robots having sex) to brilliant (see Wasp above), but we always try to get at least one shorts program in our line-up.
They also sometimes show shorts before the feature-length films. Last year our favorite short was Water, a startling 15 minute flick from New Zealand that played before Evergreen. The entire film is a metaphor for “band-aid” solutions rather than getting to the source of the problem. It was a simple concept, but must have been insanely difficult to film. I don’t know where you can see this short film, and it’s a shame.
A sampling of this year’s shorts will be available for free on the Sundance Website: sundance.org/festival/. It is definitely worth checking out.
Films we missed out on in 2005 (we did see many of them later) include: Layer Cake, Kung Fu Hustle, Thumbsucker (filmed in Portland), The Aristocrats (nasty, nasty, nasty), Murderball (must see), Me and You and Everyone We Know (written by and starring Miranda July who lived in Portland for awhile), The Puffy Chair (blech), and The Squid and the Whale.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Here's what I remember about the 13 movies we did see:
The Saddest Music in the World
A nice midwestern couple we met at one of the shuttle stops had warned us not to see this movie -- they thought it was terrible. Too late, we already had tickets. This movie will forever go down in Sundance history as the only movie we have seen where the Director came out before the movie and gave a brief explanation. Apparently the audience just didn't get it at the first showing, so he explained that it is meant to be a comedy that makes fun of the melodrama genre. Ohhhhh.
So, this movie is shot entirely in black and white and stars Isabella Rosselini as a legless (don't worry, her love makes her glass prosthetic legs filled with beer), Canadian beer baron who sponsors a contest for the saddest music in the world. This opens the film to a whole cast of deviant characters and the plot to lots of manipulative backstage dealings. There is also a deep family secret and and a huge vat of beer. I didn't love it, but we did get to see and hear from the charming Isabella Rosselini after the show. My sister still claims it as one of her all-time favorites.
Marie and Bruce
Wallace Shawn wrote this as a play in the 1960s. Fast forward 40 years when he co-wrote the screenplay to bring the story to film. It starred Mathew Broderick and Juliane Moore and, in our opinion, stunk. The characters were unlovable and their relationship was toxic. The best part was hearing Wallace Shawn during the Q & A. He was very real, didn't have tedious "I'm trying to impress you" answers, and put the know-it-alls in the audience in their place. I was somewhat disappointed, however, that he never once said "Inconceivable." We did bump into him later that day at another screening and he is the only celebrity that I have had the nerve to talk to --I lied and told him I enjoyed his film.
Touch of Pink
One of the few comedies we have seen at Sundance, it's basically a gay Monsoon Wedding, but it takes place in London and Canada. The main character is a gay Indian man living in London, who is forced to confront his family and his sexuality when his mother sets out to find him a Muslim wife. It has a host of outlandish and sympathetic characters who are played with great comedic timing. As an added bonus, Kyle McLachlan has a small role as Cary Grant's ghost (he advises on how to live a "closeted life".) What's not to like?
This is an awesome and very thorough documentary on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For us, it was huge slice of history as we saw it on MLK Day and Al and Tipper Gore sat right behind us. I enjoyed all the archival footage, interviews with those close to him and the fact that it didn't brush his shortcomings under a rug. I was somewhat distracted throughout the film -- trying to think of something positive to say to Mr. Gore. Jois came up with: "I'm still not over the election, how 'bout you?", but we decided against that.
Book of Love
This is one case where the catalog description and what we saw really don't match-up. This was a rather disturbing story about a relationship and how it changes when a 15-year-old boy enters the couple's life. I don't remember much about the movie other than one particularly violent scene and the false calm that takes over the characters right after it. If you see it on your Netflix list, I would skip it.
Brother to Brother
I think this was the very first Sundance movie we saw. It tells the story of a young gay, African-American artist in New York. He befriends a poet and painter who was part of the Harlem Renaissance and after that, the movie switches back and forth between the 1930's and today. The Harlem Renaissance scenes were excellent and really seemed to capture the mood and flavor of that time. In the end, a better understanding of history helps the young artist to come to terms with his place in the world. Entertaining and a social message -- bonus!
This was an exciting movie to see at Sundance for two reasons. First, it was directed by a young woman from the Pacific Northwest and filmed entirely in Washington. Second, Robert Redford was there. We haven't seen him since, but I thought it must have made that young director so nervous to have him in the audience. The movie dealt with very real issues (poverty, envy, fear)in a real way and was beautifully filmed. I hope it was eventually shown outside the festival. I always root for the underdog.
This was the absolutely terrible movie that Courtney Cox starred in that I referred to earlier. Although, her acting was fine, it was just a jumbled up mess of a plot. It told three different versions of the same story, but not in a linear way and not so we could ever figure out why. In the Q and A an audience member asked the question we all wanted to ask: "This is what I thought was happening, am I right?" No, she wasn't and neither were any of the rest of us. If the movie has to be explained to an audience (and a pretty sophisticated one at that) it's no good. It turns out the film's big claim to fame is it was shot entirely on a Sony HD Cam (the techno-geeks in the audience had lots of questions about that). It was also made in 8 weeks time and had a teeny tiny budget. No big surprise there. Even an amusing and somewhat pregnant Courtney Cox there to answer questions couldn't make up for all that the film lacked.
This film did make it into distribution, so many people know about it. It is based on a true story of a couple who disappeared while scuba diving. I don't typically like suspenseful movies like this, but it was done in a very quiet, realistic way. No thumping Jaws music to get your heart beating. Our only disappointment was we saw it in Salt Lake and there wasn't any Q & A.
This is a story about three men from New Jersey who have been friends forever and are now approaching middle age. One wildly successful friend returns home for a visit and throws them all into fits of jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. It had a terrific cast, including Joe Pantoliano, Boyd Gaines, Jennifer Tilly and Polly Draper; and was very well written. The director/ screenwriter was there to answer questions (yes, he pulled a great deal from his own life and experiences) and his teenage son gave us all a free t-shirt.
Short films are grouped somewhat thematically into a feature length screening. This particular group of short films were all done by Native filmmakers from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. These films ranged in length from 6-14 minutes, and from very dark and violent to utterly charming. In the charming category was our favorite of the six: Two Cars, One Night from New Zealand. It featured a young boy and a young girl who strike up a brief friendship in a pub parking lot, where they are waiting for their partying parents.
We saw the Native American director of the violent film, Shush, at Starbucks after the screening. When we recognized him and told him we had just seen his film he beamed like he had won an Academy Award.
This was Native documentary about a battle for logging rights between the Listuguj Mi'gmaq people and the Quebec government. The filmmaker had done another documentary in 1981 about this same tribe and their conflict with the government over fishing rights. It felt a little like a sequel, but having the cameras turned on the tribe's internal conversations was interesting nonetheless.
This is when we learned: "if it says 'porn' in the catalog, it is porn." In fact, the exact words in the catalog were: "porno-political-palooza." It was porn in every sense of the word. It had a weak plot that existed only to put the characters into sexual situations, bad dialog and terrible acting. To make matters worse, it was mostly gay sex and written in German, so the English dialog was dubbed. Our favorite quote from the movie: "The Revolution is my boyfriend!" said in gestapo-like manner.
People were falling down the steps of the theater as they tried to discretely exit during the movie. Us, oh no, we stayed. Jois cackled loudly and I decided it would make good Sundance folklore. (Jenn brilliantly decided to skip it and left her ticket as a tip for our dinner waiter -- I prayed not to run into him after the movie.) I was also very uncomfortable when the director and lead actress came out to answer questions afterwards -- I had no questions and I couldn't look the actress in the eye.
Afterward, we went to another theater to try to wait list in for a movie and while in line we met a woman who was scouting movies for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. She had seen Raspberry Reich and when we asked her if that was a movie they would show there, she gave us our all-time favorite Sundance quote: " Oh yes, it's totally programmable."
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The competition categories are pretty self-explanatory. They are:
· Independent Film Competition: Documentary
· Independent Film Competition: Dramatic
· World Cinema Competition: Documentary
· World Cinema Competition: Dramatic
· Shorts Programs
The other categories require a little clarification. They are:
These films offer a selection of the latest work from established directors and world premieres of highly anticipated films. (These films are usually already slated for distribution and many of them make it to Portland.) This category has featured movies like Motorcycle Diaries, Little Miss Sunshine, Thank you for Smoking and Riding Giants. Truth be told, we have seen some stinkers in this category.
The Spectrum program presents dramatic and documentary films from both established and new filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world. (These are not judged.) We have seen some excellent films in this category.
Park City at Midnight
Park City at Midnight films typically push the envelope and can even be thought of a irreverent. This category may include horror films, over-the-top comedies, surreal tales, explicit material, and bizarre stories that defy categorization. This is where we stumbled into (and many people stumbled out of) a porn movie. Lesson learned: if it says "porn" in the catalog, it is porn.
New Frontier celebrates experimentation and cinematic innovation. In this category, we saw one such experimental work. The name of the film was The joy of Life. The first half of the movie was deserted shots of very non-picturesque parts of San Francisco (why these perfectly still images were recorded on a movie camera alluded us). While viewing what basically amounted to a very uninteresting slide show, the voice over was a Lesbian reading from her sex diary. Then, halfway through it, the movie became a documentary about the Golden Gate bridge being the number one suicide landmark in the country. Let's just say, we didn't get it and, therefore now avoid this category.
Despite the fact that at first we didn't really know what we were doing, we did manage to see some excellent movies. A recap of 2004 is coming up next.
I was struggling with what to write between now and my departure. My husband (he also rocks!) suggested I write recaps of the our past trips. So, look for those entries soon -- "The Good, Bad and Ugly of the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Festivals. And just to pique your interest, past years include Courtney Cox in a movie no one understood, a melodrama spoof starring Isabella Rosselini as an amputee, Al Gore before an Inconvenient Truth, and Gay German Porn.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
First you must register your intent to buy tickets with the festival box office. This enters you into a lottery for a time slot in which you can try to buy tickets. If you do get a time slot, you may log-on at any time after your appointed time and date (remembering that everything is based on Mountain Time) and you have 30 minutes to buy your quota of tickets. Each purchaser is allowed no more than 20 tickets and no more than 4 tickets for each movie.
We had five people register to buy on-line tickets and got four time slots. I do all the ticket buying because I have the time and it's easier if one person manages the schedule. Our first time slot was yesterday at 10:30AM. Yesterday was also the first day of on-line ticket sales. Woo Hoo!
Because all Sundance movies are being shown for the first time ever, we rely on the on-line film guide (sundance.org/festival) to figure out what movies we are interested in seeing. We also need to take into account when and where they are playing. We are not there for the entire 10-day festival and we really hate 8:30AM movies after an 11:30PM movie the night before (that's right, they show movies from 8:30 in the morning until after midnight.) The theater location is also an issue. Park City gets extremely congested during the festival and while the shuttle system is always running, it can still only go as fast as traffic allows.
So, yesterday I sat down at my computer right at my appointed time of 10:30AM with a seven- page typed document outlining the movie/scheduling possibilities during our stay. There are a total of 205 films playing in multiple time slots and theaters in this year's festival. Thank God some are not playing while we are there, as I need some system for narrowing the field.
Unlike in years past, the computer system worked quickly and as it was supposed to, so I was able to get 20 tickets to 7 different movies in about 6 minutes. And, because it was early in the on-line ticket buying week, I got what I think will be some excellent movies.
Today we had three different times to buy tickets, beginning at 9:30 AM. From yesterday to today, however, lots of showings sold out. Even with my revised document outlining the time slots where we could add movies, I had to do a lot more searching for available films. I filled in the holes and bought another allotment of 20 tickets. During my 1:00PM time slot availability was not the problem, fitting anything more into our schedule was. For this reason, I only bought 14 more tickets for a total of 54 tickets to 21 movies. I don't think I will even bother with our 4:00PM time slot.
I'm not even sure if I can handle 21 movies in six days. We have learned, however, that it is easy to sell tickets once you are there, so I would rather overbuy than purchase too few. Last year, we talked to people who came to the festival with no tickets in hand. We have also met people who had a small role in a film and were not able to get tickets to their own movie. It's a bummer that you have to book your flight before you know if you will get tickets or not.
So, the research, experience and planning paid off and we are going to Sundance to see movies, not stand in line!
Here's our schedule:
You can read a brief description of each movie on the on-line film guide on the Sundance web site (sundance.org/festival.)
Shorts Program I
Slingshot Hip Hop
It’s a Good Day to be Black and Sexy
Shorts Program I
Be Kind Rewind
The Last Word
Death in Love
Alone in Four Walls
Phoebe in Wonderland
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Over the years we have learned a great deal about ticket buying (ask everyone you know to enter the lottery for on-line ticket-buying time slots), interpreting the film guide's movie descriptions (if there's no cast listed, there are no people in the movie), which theatres are the best and in walking distance of each other (Ogden theatres are, in fact, in Ogden which is a long way from Park City) and which film categories to avoid ("Park City at Midnight" movies are not shown during daylight hours for a reason.)
We don't go to the parties. We don't go to see celebrities. We go because we love independent film and because it is the best damn Mom's week away you will ever have. Never once do I think "I wish the kids were here" and we barely have time to eat, let alone miss our families.
So, as we embark on yet another Sundance journey, I decided to share some of our insight (notice I didn't say wisdom); experiences; film reviews; celebrity sightings (not that we care); Ug Boot, fur coat and other winter fashion atrocities along the way. I will also include the funny things we see and hear in wait list lines, on the streets and in jam-packed shuttle buses.
I hope you find the experience as exciting, thought-provoking and, at times, ridiculous as we do.