Dispatch from Sundance (2007)

Movies! Celebrities! Glamour!

This year’s Sundance Film Festival contains all that and much more. In this post, I’ll be reviewing this year’s festival, as well as a few movies that I saw.

First off, I’m amazed at how much the festival stays the same. I recognize the same faces (even on my flight from NYC to SLC). The venues remain constant. Celebrities perpetually appear. And excitement and possibility still pervade the festival.

But there are always a few changes. The positive: this year the policy for “waiting list” tickets changed—for the better. I actually saw every film that I wait-listed, and I spent much less time standing in lines. The negative: the festival is still ratcheting up the celebrity ridiculousness. My friend’s young son was almost run over by a car when paparazzi pushed him into the street while trying to photograph P. Diddy. I guess he was just mere collateral damage in our insatiable desire to see if P. Diddy (and other celebrities), as UsWeekly might say, “is just like us.” (He’s not!?)

At the festival I’m always overwhelmed by the team effort required to get films made. During the Q&A sessions, the directors and producers describe the hurdles they jump and the crew they amass to finish their project. That got me thinking about being an attendee of the festival. I realized that attending Sundance, even as a spectator, requires lots of help. I started making of list of the support I received and I am amazed at how much I depend on others. Here are some examples:

1. Transportation—I got shuttled around the festival in four different friends’/families’ cars (including my dead grandmother’s car with handicapped plates. Score!). I also used the official festival shuttles.

2. Housing—I stayed a few nights in Salt Lake City with family. And I crashed at a fabulous Park City condo owned by a generous/sexy female friend.

3. Tickets—Four different people purchased the seventeen tickets I needed for the movies I saw.

4. Food—At least eight people kept me regularly fed throughout the festival.

OK, now on to what everybody wants. Celebrity gossips and photos. Disclaimer: my camera is smaller than my penis and is hard to get close-ups. Trust me — the photos below depict the celebrity I say is there! I mention the films below because of their recognizable stars, not necessarily for their artistic merit.

Waitress

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Tickets to this movie were sold on eBay for over $400. Why? This past November, the writer/director of the movie, Adrienne Shelly, was brutally murdered in her Manhattan apartment and hanged from her shower curtain. Plus the movie stars Keri Russell and Andy Griffith. I won’t say anything bad about this movie or I’m sure God will send me to hell. Can you make out Keri in the photo (in the grey hat/black dress)?

The Ten

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The name is a reference to the Biblical commandments and contains ten vignettes inspired by each one of them. Paul Rudd (pictured) showed up to introduce the movie. He was so excited that he ran laps up and down the aisle while the director made opening remarks. This movie generated pre-festival buzz surrounding its unorthodox humor. I admit I laughed a lot.

Save Me

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A melodramatic film portraying the well intentioned but ultimately destructive practice of “conversion therapy” practiced by some Christians to turn gay men straight. Starring (near the far right of picture) gay icons Robert Gant, Judith Light (“Who’s the Boss?”), and Chad Allen. The gay audience gave it a standing ovation. An orgy nearly ensued. Can you make out the threaded eyebrows even in this dark shot?

Silversun Pickups

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OK, this is not a movie. This is a kick-ass rock band. Nikki Monninger (pictured) and her band played at the prestigious Sundance Music Café. Isn’t she beautiful? Look at that talent. I wish she were mine.

Broken English

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An “indie” film by insider Zoe Cassavettes that stars Parker Posey and Drea de Mateo (pictured above in that order). I love anything with Ms. Posey. The romantic comedy will warm your heart if you still have one.

Fay Grim

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Hal Hartley’s follow up to Henry Fool also features Parker Posey. The quirky movie starts off at perfect pitch with bizarre and funny characters. But the second half unfortunately changes tone and morphs into a humorless conspiracy thriller.

Although I don’t have photos, there are two other movies I want to mention:

Starting Out in the Evening. Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) portrays a character who charmed me but irritated many in my group. Is controversy the sign of an interesting film? Or do I just have bad taste?

Four Sheets to the Wind. When’s the last time you saw a movie about Native Americans in Oklahoma? And without any big-name stars? Or Indian nudity? I would never have considered seeing it but my friends made me go. It ended up being my fiance’s favorite film of what we saw at the festival. Thanks, Sundance, for a different voice.

The one thing I missed at Sundance this year was the oftentimes large entourage of my friends that reunites in Park City and uses the festival as an opportunity to hang out, soak in hot tubs, and laugh at ourselves and the world. This year the group’s attendance was down. I can’t complain too much, because I still hung out with some of my best friends and lots of family. But I hope that next year an even larger group can reunite. Won’t you join me?

    12 responses to “Dispatch from Sundance (2007)”

    1. G-Lock says:

      I’ll be there next year!

      And thank you for not seeing/covering the so-called “Dakota Fanning rape movie.”

    2. bryan says:

      i’m trying to figure out why this is under Literacy H Dogfight, unless it’s actually the product of multiple authors.

      i would love to join you next year — or maybe the year after that, when chances are i’ll be on leave. somehow $$ and work always manage to get in the way.

    3. bryan says:

      btw — i should have said thanks for a great report, even if there’s no davy cockett this year. i’ve been looking forward to this dispatch all week.

    4. Matt C says:

      I’m sitting here crying salty tears for missing this year’s festival. Next year 4-shore, y’all!

      Thanks for a great post, but a) you need a new camera and b) THERE MUST BE A DAVY COCKETT shot or your time has been wasted.

      PS. My coworker just got back from the festival and she saw Gary Coleman! Top that, bitches!

      matt c

    5. bryan says:

      matt! you won my vote for “commenter we seriously need more of and who vanished mysteriously from our midst far too early in this site’s history”! it’s so good to hear your snarky voice.

    6. MF says:

      Matt C… I can’t quite tope a Gary Coleman sighting, but …

      I sat next to the supporting actor of Rocket Science on the plane back to NY. Oh, if only I were 20 years younger. He’s absolutely adorable.

    7. G-Lock says:

      You were missed, Matt C.

      Yeah, my camera sucks. What of it? Sorry I’m not all fancy with, you know, zoom and stuff.

      As for a better star sighting, I see your Arnold Drummond and raise you Dennis Hopper.

      Dismissed.

    8. MF says:

      BTW…

      Other good movies at Sundance this year:

      Rocket Science: Charming and good-for-a-lot-a-laughs film about a freshman stutterer who falls in love with a senior debate queen.

      An American Crime: Perfectly executed narrative based on a 1960s abuse case. Catharine Keener is spectacular. Still haunts me.

      Waitres: Charming and fun. Not worth $400.

      Grace is Gone: John Cusack and two very talented girls play characters who deal with the loss of their wife/mother in Iraq. I thought it would feel like a made-for-tv movie. It was everythign but.

    9. Lisa Parrish says:

      Speaking of celebrities at Sundance, here’s a brush with Mr. 15 Minutes of Fame himself:

    10. Dave says:

      Ooo, he’s cute.

      Paul Rudd with a beard? Maybe without the red eye.

    11. Stephanie Wells says:

      Nikki, you are the most delightful star of all!!!

    12. WW says:

      SWells is right. SSPU playing at Sundance was a little like “Jaws” opening next door to “My Dinner with Andre.” SSPU tore up everything in site and the swelling crowd loved it. The sleepy music cafe wasn’t the same once they came on stage, where they lit a fire under the skinny ski town. People were stripping down to their first layer of long underwear. SSPU rocked, and then rocked some more and were done with a bang. And then, in the void, a whimper as the crowd dwindled and people bundled, preparing to face the cold swag-filled world above.