We rolled into Park City, Utah on Saturday afternoon for our first visit to the Sundance Film Festival with four hours of sleep and a wildly unfocused winter coat game, initial proof that we had no idea what we were doing. (Full disclosure: two days into it and we still don't know what we're doing).
After our first celeb sighting (Jessica Biel! In a Marriott lobby!) we headed to the Onitsuka Tiger ski bunny condo—as seen on Last Night's Party. Having used our one free gear hookup in our first hour in town, we decided to check out some movies. Because that's what we're all here for, right?
At the Pioneer Theatre, acclaimed documentary photographer Lauren Greenfield—looking charmingly pregnant and charmingly nervous—introduced her debut film Thin. Furthering Greenfield's coverage of American female culture, the documentary follows four patients checked into a Florida clinic for women with severe eating disorders. In film, as in her photos, Greenfield treats her subjects with affection and unforgivingness.
Next we got our NPR on with Wordplay, a documentary about the country's best crossword players, centered around New York Times Crosswords Puzzle Editor Will Shortz and his annual crossword competition in Stamford, Connecticut. The Spellbound comparisons are both expected and warranted, but the film is jammed with the nerd humor we're convinced is the future of funny. Avid crosswordian Jon Stewart fucking murderalizes it during his guest segment, but other celebrity experts like the Indigo Girls and President William Jefferson Clinton offer little insight. Similes like "solving problems is like solving the crossword puzzle" are pretty whatever, but baton twirling competitor Ellen Ripstein could supplant Nupur Lala as our top real world dork fixation.
Later on we checked director Julien Temple's Glastonbury, which collects reams of footage (both amateur and professional) from the massive English festival over the past 26 years as it transformed from hippie folk/mind session to societal outcast gathering place to weirdo techno hippie performance art exhibition center. The film isn't chronological and instead takes a integrationist approach, juxtaposing images of Petey Doherty staggering through a performance with longhairs from the days of yore digging on their transvibral selves. After the two hour plus exhaustive look at English people doing too many drugs, we were exhausted.
If it seems like our docket looks documentary heavy, you'll have to excuse us for not being stoked about films about a man and his hawk, even if that man is Paul Giamatti. The case for realism at Sundance was further bolstered by films like Stay, which we watched early Sunday morning. We're big fans of director Bobcat Goldthwait's previous two deranged efforts Shakes The Clown and Windy City Heat, but this story about the repercussions of a young woman's revelation that she sucked off her dog in college (for serious) was neither mean nor heartfelt enough. We couldn't wait for it to end.
The narrative fiction form got some redemption with Factotum, a film based on Charles Bukowski's largely autobiographical second novel and several of his short stories. Matt Dillon stars as Hank Chinaski, a good-for-nothing fuckup who bounces from job to job, girl to girl, and drink to drink. With its largely plotless, wide-open feel, Factotum recalls FADER home DVD library favorite, and Denis Johnson adaptation, Jesus' Son. But Factotum swaps smack for booze, Boise for San Francisco, Samantha Morton for Lily Taylor and Jack Black for Fisher Stevens.
Keeping with the bummed out, meandering theme, we hit The Proposition, a bloody western written by Nick Cave, where the central Australia's frontier is portrayed as hell. A story about brothers, outlaws, legends, redemption and revenge, it gets way gnarly, and we're not just talking about Guy Pearce's yellow teeth.
On Sunday night we teamed with Red Stripe to co-host a reception for Tamra Davis's resurrected short documentary A Conversation With Basquiat at the Coda Gallery on Main Street. State-alum, Stella-member and Wet Hot American Summer director David Wain stopped by to interview Tammy D for a bit on Best Week Ever. They were looking at a video iPod, we couldn't hear what the joke was. In support of his wife, Beastie Boy Mike D was in attendance along with the rest of his group and their crew that included Kathleen Hanna and Cey Adams. When Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra showed up and Adam Yauch started working the list at the door things were getting too weird, so we bailed.
Before the weekend wrapped, we caught a midnight (actually more like 12:30 AM) goodtimes showing of the Beastie Boys concert film Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That. Taking a cue from Bon Jovi's video for "Bad Medicine", during a 2004 concert at Madison Square Garden they distributed 50 cameras to fans to create an "authorized bootleg." Refreshingly free of the sweeping, hang glider over the masses approach of many concert films, Awesome offers a more personal, pixelated and out-of-focus perspective. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session where director and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch confessed he doesn't like the title and that for his next movie project he's working with a writer on a screenplay, but "he feels like an asshole for saying that at Sundance." He did not, however, say if Nathaniel Hornblower will rush the stage to declare the festival a farce if the Awesome does not take the audience award.
Stay tuned for further updates and further quips!