Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sundance Moments

Me and the Nesquick Bunny on Main Street.

There are many reasons we pay over $15 a ticket to see movies at Sundance, but first and foremost, it is those small moments throughout the day that could only occur in that environment. Sure the money helps fund a non-profit institute that supports aspiring filmmakers. Yes, there is added value in the interactive session with the directors, writers, actors, producers etc. that occurs after almost every movie. But, most of all, it's the unscripted moments before and after movies -- in line, on the shuttle, in restaurants, etc. -- that we really enjoy. Here are some examples from this year.

Before Prom Night in Mississippi started, Jois struck up a conversation with the man in the seat next to her. It turns out he is a Senior V.P. for Paramount. She then mined him for information and opinions on all the Festival movies he had seen so far. As he sees five a day, he was a wealth of information. Both agreed that Prom was excellent.

I said "hello" to a familiar face in passing and it wasn't until I was way past her that I realized I only knew her because I had seen her in the lead role of Toe to Toe two days ago. I wished it would have clicked sooner, so I could have told her how much I enjoyed her performance.

Dede having a "Tourettes moment" in the lobby when she realized the familiar face she was seeing was the director of one of the shorts we saw. After loudly shouting, Jerrycan!, she recovered nicely and had a lovely conversation with him about that film and his next project.

The young couple who came out from Boise to volunteer at the Festival that we met in line. We sort of adopted them (by sharing our licorice) and invited them to stay with us if they ever come to Portland. We saw them the next morning and Gaby stands in front of a full theatre and asks "Where are my teacher friends? Did you bring me any snacks?"

The mother and her 18-year-old son we met who have been going to the festival every year for the past six years. She buys an all-access pass (that's what I will buy when I win the lottery) for both of them. We told him he has a really nice mother. In response, he put his arm around her and said he has the best mother in the world. Awww.

Being moved by a simple documentary about a high school in Mississippi. Then being even more moved when two of the high school girls in the film make the trip to Sundance (one of whom had never been on a plane) and stand in front of large audience to answer their questions.

Trying to figure out how to discreetly tell the guy standing up in the row in front of us that his fly is down. Not so discreetly telling the people in the row behind us to stop talking. For those of you who know Jois, you won't be surprised to hear that she handled both situations.

Meeting the woman from upstate New York who writes for a Hispanic publication, runs a public library and operates a theatre dedicated to Independent films. Meeting a guy who does set design for major motion pictures and started the Boston Film Festival, because no one else would. Joking with two couples on the shuttle as if we have known them forever.

Sundance is a shared experience. Thousands of people from around the world gather together for a few days in a freezing cold, small town in the mountains of Utah. Most check their egos at the door and almost all share a love of storytelling through film. It's just a privilege to be a part of it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 4 - Should Have Gone for the Burrito

Yesterday was the day we had four movies in a row, all at the same theatre. We left the house around 11:15 am and got home just before midnight. We never went back outside after we got there and meals consisted of trail mix, oranges, protein bars and one overpriced slice of pizza. Now that's a vacation!

Three of the four movies we saw were excellent, but we should have sold our tickets to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and walked across the street for burritos. This is the film I wanted to see because it was directed by and starred John Krasinski (that's him in the photo -- he's just a cute in real life as he is on The Office.) While it was great to see him in person, the movie was so bad (sorry John) that I would have preferred a burrito. We all agreed that we had to have one clunker in the bunch. It's all part of the "Sundance Experience."

Here's a brief synopsis of the good, the really good and the not-so-good:


This was a sweetly told love story of a young man living with Asperger's Syndrome and his relationship with his school teacher neighbor. Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne play those characters with authenticity and compassion. An intelligent script, a strong supporting cast and thoughtful visual design all contribute to the simple beauty of this film. Yes, it sheds light on Asperger's, but it goes deeper than that -- speaking to tolerance, understanding and honesty. This was the first movie this year to make me cry.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Based on the novel by David Foster Wallace, this was an exploration of the male psyche done under the guise of a doctoral candidate conducting research by interviewing a variety of men about their relationships. What that translates to is a bunch of talking heads. A stellar cast of talking heads, but talking heads nonetheless. Unfortunately, the script felt like someone reading aloud from Wallace's book. There was no action, and the film was sprinkled with frequent and abrupt scene changes. I found it boring and tedious. It may make a great stage production, but it didn't work well on the big screen.


Set in 1987 in a cheesy amusement park, this is a fun story about young love, figuring out what really matters in life and having a miserable job. It doesn't break much new ground, but it has an amazing cast, fun characters and many relatable moments for those of us over the age of 40. It also had a great 80's soundtrack! Due to be released nationwide in March it is coming soon to a theatre near you.

The Messenger

Starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, this moving story shows a side of the military and war that is not often seen -- the process of notifying a family that their son or daughter has died. Foster and Harrelson are remarkable as two damaged soldiers who have returned to the U.S. and been given this assignment. By showing a seldom seen side of the military, it also illuminates the grief, loneliness and unique male relationships of soldiers. Timely, thoughtful, intense and real; this movie delivers on all fronts (no pun intended.)

I'm home now -- tired from the journey and elated that Obama has been sworn in. Tomorrow I hope to find time to share some of our "It could Only Happen at Sundance" moments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 3 - Can't We All Just Get Along?

We only saw two movies today, one fiction and one documentary, and both tackled the issues of race relations in high school. I am starting to realize that a lot of the Sundance gems lie in the documentaries. It helps that we get to ask questions of the director after the film, but often these stories are just as amazing on their own. For every Supersize Me, there are probably 100 other true-life films that only reach a handful of people. It's really too bad and I appreciate the Sundance Institute for continuing to champion this category of film.

I really hope the documentary we saw today hits the big screen.

Prom Night in Mississippi

Here's the story. Charleston High School in Charleston, Mississippi was finally integrated in 1970. They continued, however, to hold a white prom and a black prom. In 2008, Morgan Freeman, who lives in the area, offers to pay for their prom if it is integrated. (This is the second time he has made this offer. In 1997, he was turned down.) The filmmaker spends 4 1/2 months in the town interviewing kids, teachers and parents and following the plans for the first ever integrated prom. It turns out the adults of the community have been driving the separate proms and it's not at all what the kids want.

On the heels of the election of our first African-American President, this film illuminates clearly that racism is still very much alive in America. It also sheds light on the difficulty of breaking the cycle that's passed from generation to generation. For example, there were kids who would not speak on camera unless their identity was concealed for fear of repercussions from their parents. Morgan Freeman is also interviewed and he so articulately expresses his motives that every kid in America should see this movie just to hear his words. It was also great to hear how clearly the kids were able to express their beliefs and fears.

Two of the girls in the film (one who had never been on a plane before) made the trip to Park City. They and the filmmaker answered many questions after the screening. Yes, the school is planning an integrated prom for 2009 and this time they hope to have it at the school, which shows school administrative support and takes some of the power away from the parents. Morgan Freeman has agreed to match the money pitched in by the District. No, it has not been bought yet, so distribution remains to be seen. I want my kids to see it, so I'll be watching for it on DVD if nothing else.

Toe to Toe

This work of fiction was written and directed by a young female director (Emily Abt) and stars two up-and-coming young actresses (Louisa Krause and Sonequa Martin.) Go girls! It was written in response to the statistic that 87% of all inter-racial friendships end by age 14.

The story revolved around two high school senior girls, one black and one white, who play lacrosse on the same team for their prep school. Both are misfits and transient and so they find each other ... sort of. As the relationship disintegrates, we learn more about these two girls and why they are the way they are. It is a well-told story -- not a rush-right out and see it movie --but good nonetheless. If nothing else, it highlights a director and two actors, whose stars are on the rise

Day Two – The Ticket Debacle, Main Street and L.A. Stories

After a relaxing morning at home (our first movie wasn’t until 12:15 PM) the four of us loaded into the rental car and headed to the town at a leisurely pace. Once we were in line to go in, I pulled out our tickets, only to discover that I had brought Sunday’s tickets not Saturday's. I immediately hopped back in the car, sped back out of town (Jenn lives about 15 minutes outside the city) and, driving 90 MPH at times, was able to get the tickets and get back in time for the movie. I keep saying I don’t want to be in charge of the tickets, but they won’t fire me.

It all had a happy ending and we got good seats for what I think was the best movie we have seen so far.

This debut feature tells the story of a Palestinian family’s immigration to Illinois. It was written and directed by Cherien Dabis (pictured here with some of the cast) and largely autobiographical. What I loved about the movie was it was so intensely personal. It was also very true to both the Middle Eastern culture (luckily we have Jois, who is married to an Israeli, along to confirm that) and the Arab immigrant experience post 911. I don’t think you could watch this movie without caring deeply about the characters and rooting for their success. Told with heart, humor and honesty I consider this film a treasure to be discovered.

With a three hour break after Amreeka, we had lunch at Shawn Levy’s favorite burrito place. (We thought of you Shawn, sorry you couldn’t join us.) We then headed to historic Main Street to experience the “scene” that is so often associated with Sundance. We just missed seeing 50-Cent, but did bump into the Nesquick Bunny. (OK, so it’s not quite the same.) We also got to participate in a group Macarena that streamed live on some web site and then scored some free water bottles at the Brita tent. It really doesn’t take much to make us happy.

Then it was back to Eccles for our final two movies. These two movies were both Premieres, both set in L.A., both had popular stars in them and are both only playing twice in Park City. Therefore, the theatre was packed. We had to sit in the balcony for the first, which was fine for the movie, but a bummer for the Q & A. I’m sure you will see the first movie, 500 Days of Summer, in a theatre near you sometime in 2009 as it is a Fox Searchlight Pictures release. Spread, the second movie, will probably also be distributed, although I’m not sure what rating it would have – lots of nudity and sex. Here are my two (not 50) cents.

5oo Days of Summer
This was an absolutely charming tale of boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl doesn’t. Told from the male perspective, it’s a little harsh toward women, but so true and funny that it doesn’t matter. Joseph-Gordon Levitt plays lovesick Tom and was absolutely adorable and Zooey Deschanel plays, Summer, the object of his love. I guess you would classify this as a romantic comedy, but it rises above that format by unfolding in a non-linear fashion and including several delightful dream/fantasy sequences. In my favorite, the euphoria Tom feels after first sleeping with Summer is expressed in a big song and dance number that spontaneously erupts as Tom is walking to work. Set in some of the more picturesque areas of Los Angeles and underscored with an amazing soundtrack this film had all the right elements to tell a not-so-graceful story, gracefully.

Produced by and starring Ashton Kutcher (pictured right -- what’s up with that hat?), this is the story of a male Gigolo in Los Angeles and features lots of beautiful people naked. If Ashton Kutcher gets you hot and bothered, this movie is worth the price of admission. If you have an aversion to explicit sex scenes, you should probably skip it. I would have really struggled with this movie, had the script not taken the main character away from his sexual exploits about midway and finally started given him some likeable human qualities. If you want a glimpse into the lives and style of the beautiful people of L.A., this film will have you on sensory overload. If you are looking for deep commentary on the same, you might leave disappointed. Amusing and sad at the same time, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of this film, but it was lovely to look at and fairly entertaining.

We have two more movies today, so I’ll post my thoughts on those tonight.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 1 -- The Short and the Long of It

We are loving the fact that we don't have any early-morning movies this year. Yesterday, we were able to get in a long walk, a decent breakfast and lots of coffee before our three movies. A later start also means the weather is warmer. No scraping ice off the windshield at 7:00am in 10-degree weather. Woo Hoo!

Today's movie watching started with a Shorts Program. Here's a quick synopsis of those seven 10-15 minute movies.

Miracle Fish: This was the unanimous favorite. A little Australian film about a boy who falls asleep in the sick room at school, only to awaken and find everyone gone. It was amazing how in 17 minutes this director told a complete story. It had thoughtful character development, dramatic tension and took the viewer through a range of emotions. It was a simple, tiny gem.

Predisposed: This was also a well-told story. This time about coping with substance abuse. It was based on the absurd and true premise that addicts without insurance can only be admitted to rehab centers if they are high when they come in.

Asshole: A film about a man who personified assholeness (is that a word?) who is visiting a physician because he is having trouble with his body part of the same name. Bitingly funny and extremely well-written, (in my favorite line the main character compares wiping his butt to removing peanut butter from shag carpet) this film had the audience howling. The actor who played Vincent, the asshole, (see photo right) was there for the Q & A afterward and his sarcastic improv stole the show. It didn't go unnoticed that he wore the same shirt to the screening that he wears in the film -- I'm thinking he wants to be recognized.

The Young and the Evil: A difficult (due to graphic imagery and the disturbing subject matter) film about a young, gay African-American who is intentionally having unprotected sex with HIV positive men. Apparently this is a big problem in the African-American community and the filmmaker wanted "to start a conversation" around the issue.

The Dirty Ones: This is the first time I have heard of a potential feature film being made into a short -- usually it's the other way around. In our opinion, it needed to be a feature, or at least longer. This story about two young Mennonite traveling through a big city for the first time left us with more questions than answers. After the movie, we happened to sit next to the filmmaker, a really young guy from Nashville, so we did get some of our questions answered then.

Jerrycan: A simple story about young, impoverished boys with too much time on their hands. It was based on the Australian film maker's childhood and none of the kids in the film were actors. It was a gritty and compelling look at what can happen when you hang with the wrong crowd.

Acting for the Camera: A portrayal of a day in the life of an acting class, starring a perverse and creepy instructor. Two students are acting out the scene from When Harry Met Sally when Sally fakes an orgasm in the restaurant -- over and over again. It starts out as amusing and then gets weirder and weirder, causing us all to squirm in our seats.

We then had a long break, so visited one of our favorite restaurants, Windy Ridge, for lunch and debrief. We then walked to the next film, Art and Copy, our first documentary.

Art and Copy: This film provided an inside look at what is considered to be the best of the creatives in the advertising industry. The director had access to a group of advertising legends and those interviews were very interesting. It also told the story behind many well-know advertising campaigns ("Got Milk?", "Just do it.", etc.) The film itself seemed too long, had some distracting segues (think satellites being launched, billboards being installed and long still shots of nature) and didn't reveal much that people in or close to the industry don't already know. We were happy that Portland's Wieden and Kennedy got their due and both Dan Wieden and David Kennedy were there for the Q & A afterward. My favorite line came from Dan Wieden where he admonished everyone to "Live a creative life."

And finally, Rudo y Cursi: This Mexican film highlighted the relationship of two brothers -- each trying to find fame and fortune -- and the competition between them. A comedy, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (the two stars of Y Tu Mama Tambien, also directed by Carlos Cuaron. Cuaron wanted to make a comedy that explored the relationship between two brothers and revolved around soccer, without showing much soccer. Here he succeeded. He also wanted to provide viewers with an authentic view of modern day Mexico. I'm not sure how much he succeeded here, but I felt the characters and their aspirations were fairly typical of many Mexicans. Whether he succeeded in making a movie with appeal outside Mexico also remains to be seen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Vacation Photos

Horse photos from yesterday:

Addie -- Jenn's Horse

Sherpa -- My lesson horse

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

I made it to Park City without incident last night and woke this morning to 8-degrees and sunny. Jenn and I headed off to her work (she is the barn manager and special event coordinator at an equestrian facility.) It wasn't sunny there, so it may have been even less than 8-degrees. I have a new appreciation for how hard she works and how cold it is when she does it.

We first had to make sure none of the horses' water was frozen. Jenn then took her horse out for a lesson and followed that by giving me a lesson on another horse. She is an awesome instructor -- very clear and encouraging. The main thing I learned was how much I have to learn. While it was very humbling, I still loved being back on a horse.

After that, I took Jenn's truck and headed to downtown Park City to pick up all our movie tickets. I had written permission and copies of photo ID from the people who actually bought the tickets, so I didn't have any trouble getting them. We now have all 52 of our tickets in-hand! I also checked out the Sundance store (I'm not too thrilled with the merchandise selection this year -- good, maybe I'll save some money) and walked historic Main Street.

The main activity on Main Street was the frantic delivery and set-up of all the various Sundance-related sponsor/party/music venues. There were delivery vehicles lining the streets (often parked on the sidewalk) and piles of tent materials, rental furniture, sound systems, signage and outdoor propane heaters being unloaded. You could tell people were stressed and everything was going to continue non-stop for the next 36 hours.

Tomorrow we'll avoid the chaos of Main Street by taking the dogs snowshoeing and maybe doing a little shopping at our favorite store in Salt Lake. Jois and Dede arrive late tomorrow night, so we'll have soup on and a fire going. Ahhh ... vacation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm Outta Here

As I'm frantically packing in order to make my 4:00 PM flight, I realized a packing list might be helpful for those of you who are considering this trip.

Park City/Sundance Essentials include the following

  • A water bottle (empty of course, because they won't let you take in on the plane.) It is extremely dry on this mountain and I am thirsty the minute the plane lands.
  • Sunglasses (nothing like snow glare after leaving a dark theatre.)
  • Lip Balm and hand lotion (did I mention it's dry?)
  • A warm hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens.
  • Comfortable, warm boots with traction.
  • Camera, cell phone, blackberry or any combination of the three.
  • Obsessively highlighted Film Guide (although we will pick up clean copies once we get there.)
  • Plenty o' cash (wait list tickets are sold on a cash only basis as are all the deals made on the street, plus it makes splitting a check so much easier.)
If you want to look like someone important, you need:

  • Designer jeans tucked into fleece or fur lined boots,
  • Designer sunglasses,
  • A huge designer handbag,
  • A laptop, and
  • To be talking on your cell phone every minute that you are not in a movie.
We also tend to take:

  • Long johns,
  • Protein bars,
  • Hand and foot warmers, and
  • Gifts for our lovely hosts (think Oregon micro brew and wine -- they live in Utah for God's sake.)
I better stop typing and get packing. Look for actual Festival updates and photos soon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wendy and Lucy

Sunday night I met a friend at the Hollywood Theatre to see the movie Wendy and Lucy. I was interested in it because it is based on a short story by a Portland author and was filmed here in Portland. It is the story of a homeless woman who has two valuable possessions: her car and her dog, Lucy. En route from Indiana to Alaska, her car breaks down in Portland and, through a series of events, she loses her dog. The entire movie is dedicated to the three days she spends here trying to find her dog and resume her trip.

This is not a movie you go to when you want to escape. It is an 80-minute look at some of the realities of homelessness. There is no comedy, no thrilling action scenes and no white knight who saves the day. All in all it presents a pretty bleak and just plain sad picture.

Michelle Williams is very believable as Wendy and the rest of the cast looks like they were plucked right off the streets of Portland. The gritty cast, combined with limited dialog and slow pacing all contribute to the futility of her situation. The real tension comes, however, in that everyone in the audience desperately wants her to find Lucy.

While I can't heartily recommend this movie (because it's so sad), it has stuck with me. Twenty-four hours later, I continue to see how it quietly illuminated some of the many issues facing the homeless. If it does this for everyone who sees it, who cares about "entertainment value."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thank God for our Local Connections

Dede didn't have as much luck on the first day of on-line ticket sales, but still managed to get us some great movies. Our schedule is basically complete with a total of 13 movies over four days. I will still log on at 1:00 PM today to see if there's anything left.

Here are the movies Dede got tickets for:

Shorts Program II - Friday at 11:15 AM
Five 10-17 minute films whose titles are: Acting for the Camera, Asshole, The Dirty Ones, Jerrycan, Miracle Fish, Predisposed, and The Young and The Evil. Make of that what you may.

Lulu and Jimi - Sunday at 9:00 AM
In the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, this German film is about an interracial couple in the 1950's.

Toe to Toe - Sunday at 2:15
In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, this is another film dealing with issues of race. This time it's between two senior girls who are lacrosse teammates at a competitive D.C. prep school.

Every year, we notice a common theme in many of the films we see. One year we saw a bunch of films, both dramatic and comedic, that addressed homosexuality. One year there were a lot of films about climate change. Last year there were many about war and/or politics. This year, there seem to be a lot of films dealing with race and bigotry. In fact, our entire Sunday schedule is dedicated to films with this theme. This could be a heavy day. I may look into breaking it up with something else if I can get tickets.

Adam - Monday at 12:15 PM
Also in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, Adam tells the story of a somewhat awkward burgeoning relationship. (I love it when the nerd gets the girl.) While I don't recognize the two young stars who play the couple, it also stars Peter Gallagher (who I find somewhat creepy -- what's up with those eyebrows?) and Amy Irving (haven't seen her for a while.)

The Messenger - Monday at 9:30 PM
Starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster as Army soldiers, the film guide promises that this is not a story about politics or even the military. Instead it sounds like it's about life after war and putting the pieces back together in the real world.

Talk about ending the trip on a bang. Our Monday schedule gives us four movies back-to-back at Eccles Theatre (basically from noon to midnight.) I only have one question. When do we eat? If I give up my ticket to Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, I could pop over to the burrito joint across the street. Hmmm, burrito vs. seeing John Krasinski ... that's a toughie.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Local Connections Pay Off Again

Jenn got an early ticket-buying time for locals only sales at the box office this Saturday. It's another lottery situation, but she got 8:30 AM, the first buying time of the first day. Woo Hoo!

She was able to purchase her full quota of 20 tickets (4 each for 5 movies.) In previous years, we have met people at Sundance who arrive in Park City with no movie tickets in hand, so I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that we already have tickets to eight movies.

Here's what we have:


Art & Copy -- 5:30pm
This is a documentary about the advertising industry. Given that my husband, Scott, works for Nike and thinks all Nike ads are superior, Dan Wieden is mentioned in the film description, and I have a marketing background, I'm interested in this film from a personal standpoint.

A non-Sundance aside: Scott's days as the corporate spokesperson for advertising at Nike were also highly entertaining. He once had to defend a horror-film-style ad featuring Suzy Hamilton being chased by a chainsaw wielding lunatic that aired during the Olympics (see link below). Later, he had to promise PETA that no chickens were harmed in the making of a football ad where a Minnesota, Viking lineman chased a chicken around his yard and eventually cooked and ate it. (PETA insisted the chicken was subjected to undue mental anguish.) Hmm, maybe someone should do a documentary about advertising PR.

Rudo Y Cursi -- 9:30pm
This Mexican film features two brothers who, in chasing their dreams, fall into competition with one another. It is described as high energy and comedic -- always welcome at 9:30pm after a day of movie-watching.


500 Days of Summer -- 6:15pm
Described as a postmodern love story with a nod to Shakespearian farce, this premier stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Gordon Levitt is probably best known as Tommy from 3rd Rock from the sun, but we saw him in an intense film called Brick a few years ago and were really impressed with him in a dramatic role. Zooey Deschanel is currently in Yes Man with Jim Carrey. Regardless, it sounds warm and fun.

Spread -- 9:15pm
This is the film I mentioned earlier that stars Ashton Kutcher as a male gigolo in Hollywood. I predicted earlier that this will be the hot ticket of the year (due to fan-crazed girls wanting a glimpse of Kutcher (or middle aged men who want a peek at his wife.) If this holds true, maybe we should consider selling our tickets to subsidize our trip. If it turns out I'm no good at predictions, we'll keep the tickets and enjoy.


Prom Night in Mississippi -- 11:30am
A documentary by a Canadian filmmaker about a high school prom in Mississippi. What makes it interesting is the story behind it. Morgan Freeman offers to pay for the school's senior prom only if it is racially integrated. The school (that does have integrated classrooms) turned him down once, then in 2008 (yes, that date's right) accepted his offer and had their first ever integrated prom. I'm sure it will be shocking at times, but I'm hoping it points to a more tolerant future.

Both documentaries that we are seeing are preceded by shorts. One is called The Archive and is 8 minutes long and the other is called Suspended and lasts 9 minutes. I assume they are documentary shorts, but we have no description of them, so we shall see.

Our next day to buy tickets is Tuesday at 10:00am (Pacific Time). We need to buy at least two movies for Sunday and one each for Friday and Monday. That would give us three movies a day for a total of 12 movies. That sounds like plenty to me, but Jois is already lobbying for four a day. Yikes!

Tuesday is the first day of on-line ticket sales, so we should be able to get most of what we want. We have several buying opportunities throughout the week, but the selection of available movies rapidly declines as the week unfolds. I'm hoping our schedule is filled on Tuesday, so I can stop obsessing about movies and start obsessing about how to get several bottles of Oregon wine and microbrews to Utah with me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

We Have Tickets!

My sister and her husband returned to Park City on Tuesday. We had a great visit and were able to talk Sundance logistics, look over the movie guide together and purchase twelve tickets Tuesday morning.

These twelve tickets were to fulfill a pass that we bought way back in October. It's called the "Film Lovers" pass and it's available to local residents only. It came with an inflated price per ticket (around $18 each, instead of $15), but allowed us to get first crack at some movies. It also comes with one credential pass, so one of us could take in an insiders party, panel discussion or other event if we want -- highly unlikely!

So, back to the twelve tickets we bought... Our strategy was threefold. First to buy four tickets to each of three movies in the prime time slots (i.e. not the earliest or the latest in the day.) We also identified movies that we thought would be in high demand. Those in the Premier and Dramatic Competition categories often have recognizable stars in them and tend to sell out fastest. And finally, we were trying to get three movies in a row in the same theatre. It's great when you don't have to jump a shuttle and race to the next venue.

We were successful in our first two goals, but not in the last. A couple of the movies we wanted were already sold out. This doesn't mean they are sold out forever. It just means the allotment for local pass holders is gone. We also had more luck getting tickets for Monday movies than those showing on the weekend -- I'm guessing most locals need to go to work on this day, thus freeing up tickets for us.

So, here's what we have so far:

Amreeka playing at 12:15pm on Saturday. This is the first film by this director, Cherien Dabis, and has no "name" actors (at least I don't recognize any of them.) It is described as a "warm and lighthearted film about one Palestinian family's tumultuous journey..." from Palestine to Illinois.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men at 3:15pm on Monday. I wanted to see this because John Krasinski (who plays Jim Halpert on The Office) directed and acts in it. I love his dry wit on The Office and am anxious to see what he does behind the camera. It is based on the David Foster Wallace (DFW) book of the same name. DFW was a young, critically acclaimed author who committed suicide last Fall. While Wallace has a strong cult following, his books are not a walk in the park. Given that, this film may not not find a place in the mass market, so I'm glad we will see it at Sundance. I'm also looking forward to seeing and hearing from Krasinski in the Q & A after the film.

Adventureland at 6:15pm on Monday. This is the only Premier we were able to get with our pass. It stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) and Kristen Stewart (Twilight) as two college graduates who find each other while working at an amusement park. This quote from the film guide clinched it for me: "Adventureland is a hilarious coming-of-age tale that will speak to anyone who ever had the job from hell but wouldn't trade the experience for anything."

Jenn has an opportunity to buy 20 more tickets this Saturday when individual tickets go on sale to locals only. She has an 8:30am time slot at the box office in downtown Park City. I always feel bad that she has to physically go to the box office, often standing outside in sub-zero temperatures, while I sit at home in my jammies, drinking my coffee, ordering tickets on-line. We are praying for dry skies -- blizzards have been known to mess-up our local ticket buying. I'll post her results over the weekend.