I'm convinced that the toughest part of Sundance is catching a screening that goes until midnight, and then turning around and going to a 9:00am screening the next morning. I don't do it very often, but that's what happened to me today.
Last night I was up until midnight watching the teenage girl edition of 'Shame,' 'Young and Wild.' I was about to head over to an early screening of 'The Bachelorette,' but being up so late just floored me. I couldn't do it. I slept in and didn't make it out until noon.
When I got into Park City I could hear the distant booms of the avalanche control blowing up charges in the back country to help prevent avalanches. My first order of business was to head on over to the Festival Headquarters to do some writing. Seeing movie after movie doesn't provide for my writing, so I've got to fit it in where I can.
I have a bone to pick with the way they do balloting here. Some of you may have seen the picture I posted on the High-Def Digest Facebook page of the ballots they use for in-competition films here at the festival (if not it's pictured above). As you can see, the lowest score you can give a film is "fair." It's understandable why they do this. They don't want ballots being passed around with "terrible" or "this movie sucks so bad you may rethink ever watching movies again" printed on them, so instead they just say "fair." It's silly. If anything they should leave off the words and just do it by stars. Everyone knows how stars correlate into scoring movies. It's like they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
While I was writing, a documentary was being filmed next to me. I'm not sure what it was about, but a couple of filmmakers were interviewing an Indian gentleman about the political state of India. Although I had no idea what the documentary was about, it was neat seeing something being shot right next to me. These types of things happen often up here. There have been numerous times when I've been sitting next to distribution people as they discuss the details of buying movies that the general public are going to be seeing during the next year. It's kind of crazy watching these movie deals taking place over a cup of coffee at a small table in a hotel lobby.
Later I went to my first movie of the day called 'For a Good Time, Call…' There have been a couple raunchy movies starring women at this year's festival. 'For a Good Time, Call…' a movie about two girls who start a phone sex line, owes a lot to 'Bridesmaids.' It almost seems like this movie, featuring two girls behaving like horny guys, couldn't have been made and accepted if it wasn't for a movie like 'Bridesmaids.' I actually enjoyed the movie. It's funny, and has some great cameos. It could probably be helped by an additional edit, but it's definitely going to be seeing a wide audience at some point.
When the movie was over Luke and I decided to head up to Main Street to check out the Sundance Channel Headquarters, and to also see Luke get his hair done by the Axe hair people. Luke was in the middle of his haircut when they made him get out of his chair. We waited for a while, then David Duchovny came walking down the stairs and sat in the chair. He was funny, but you could tell he didn't want to be there. They only wanted to take his picture of him in front of Axe product. He even said, "You can give me a product to hold if you want." Then the hairdresser who was doing Luke's hair, asked, "So, what are we going to do here?" Duchovny looked distressed and quickly blurted, "Huh?! We're doing something? No I'm fine." We found out a bit later that he's a stickler for his hair and he was genuinely freaking out because he thought they were going to style his hair for him. Soon after that Vera Farmiga walked by (she's even hotter in person). When we were leaving Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy) was being mobbed outside on the street by a gang of fans. Oh, and Brie Larson was walking around Main Street talking on her phone. I've seen more celebrities this year than any of my other years at the festival combined.
After that we headed back down to the theaters for 'Safety Not Guaranteed.' Starring Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, and Mark Duplass, this is probably my favorite movie at the festival this year. I've seen 15 or so films this far, and this is the one that felt like the most complete narrative. So many of the full-length features have felt good, but in need of one or two edits. This one is perfect the way it is. A quirky movie about the concept of time travel. It's definitely one you should keep a look out for.
'The Surrogate' was my next movie. You know you're at Sundance when you see a John Hawkes film. This is probably the performance of his career, and considering his body of work, that's saying a lot. He plays a paralyzed man who lives his life in an iron lung. He's a brilliant poet, but types every word with a rod he holds in his mouth as he taps keys on a keyboard. His only dream is to have sex. He comes into contact with a sex therapist played by Helen Hunt, who helps him achieve his goal. It's an extremely moving film. I know I said 'Safety Not Guaranteed' was my favorite movie, but 'The Surrogate' comes really close.
I had planned to head back home after that movie, but for some reason decided to stay for the late showing of 'John Dies at the End.' It didn't start until 10:00pm and I debated a few times about stepping out of line and heading home. I was planning on seeing a 9:00am screening the next morning, but I really wanted to see this one. So, I decided to do it – a decision I would regret in the future. The only way to explain 'John Dies at the End' is this: 'Supernatural' on acid. It's hilarious for the first 40 minutes, but soon overstays its welcome. Still, a decent effort for a comedic horror/supernatural film. It kind of has a dark 'Donnie Darko' feel to it.
That was it. I was beat. I'd only planned on staying for three movies and being back at home before 9:00. Instead I was getting home at well after midnight, completely smashed, and ready to wake up at 6:45am the next morning to make it for my 9:00am screening. I'll let you know tomorrow if I actually survived.