Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2010 Sundance Film Festival

What a weekend in Park City! We arrived in Salt Lake City on a direct flight from SFO. It's a very easy 1 1/2 hour flight and then only a 45 min ride from the airport to Park City. Getting to Sundance is easy. Getting into the films takes some persistence and patience. Unless you pre- purchased a ticket package or have connections with a sponsor or someone in the film industry, the only way to see a film is to get in line at the main ticket office the day of and hope to get one of the few hard tickets they have for sale....or, get into the wait list line at each movie you want to see. It's a long, hard process to queue up and wait for a numbered ticket to only re-queue up in the proper order and hope to be able to purchase a ticket for $15. The competitor in me liked the idea of getting there early to be at the front of the line and get a low wait list number. The other part of me disliked having to devote so much time in line in order to see a movie. I avoid lines like the plague! I won't stand in the post office line if there's more than 6 people. I guess the determined part of my personality persisted as Danny and I saw 8 films in four and a half days. We were committed to seeing as many as we could, soaking up as much of the atmosphere of Sundance as possible.

My mother asked if we ate any good meals. Negatory! We basically ate on the fly in between movies.The only time we broke from watching films was to take a nap and then go to Doolans to watch the second half of the Jets vs Colts playoff game and then the Vikings/ Saints game. Oh yeah, we also hung out with lots of visitors at the No Name Saloon to celebrate Danny and Kelly's 42nd Birthdays.

So, what films did we see and how do I rate them? Here goes, in order of how I liked them.....

#1 Welcome to the Rileys, starring James Gandolfini, Kirsten Stewart and Leo. This movie was my favorite of the week. The intense performances of the 3 principle actors was extraordinary and the script was equally good. At first, it's hard to look past James' Tony Soprano character, but I quickly forgot about that and felt as though he embodied his new character. It was nice to see Kristen Stewart evolve past her Bella character and delve into something deeper and more complex. Her performance was excellent. I didn't know much about Melissa Leo, but she brought so much to the story with her subtle performance.

#2 Sins of my Father. Sins of My Father, a documentary on the son of Pablo Escobar and his perspective of growing up as the son of the largest cocaine dealer in the world. It was a very interesting viewpoint to a story we all know.

#3 Teenage Paparazzo. Delightfully entertaining movie about a 13 year old boy named Austin Visschedyk who becomes a member of the Papparazi. Adrian Grenier directs and produces this documentary on the general growth and success of the paparazzi phenomenon thru his experience with young Austin. The film is full of fun clips and good sit down interviews with actors. Adrien Grenier has done a great job with his first movie as producer/director. I really enjoyed the Q & A afterward w/ Adrien and his cast and crew. He was very intelligent and eloquent as he answered questions.

#4 Douchbag. Funny story of two brothers and their broken relationship. The amazing thing about this movie is that one of the main actors, Andrew Dickler, is actually a very accomplished editor and made his debut as an actor in this movie. He was extremely natural and interesting in front of the camera.

#5 The Dry Land. This was a very tense, serious look at soldiers coming back home after serving in Iraq and trying to fit back in to their former lives. America Ferrera stared in and co-executive produced this drama. Very well done, but hard to watch.

#6 Please Give. After a great start, this movie loses steam. The performances were very good, but the script sort of stalls and leaves you thinking there could have been so much more. The characters were interesting, but they weren't allowed to go very far and ultimately the ending was disappointing.

#7 HIGH School. There was a lot of buzz for this movie and for the majority of the under 25 crowd that was on hand for the premiere, they were satisfied. It's about two kids that get their whole HS stoned to foil the drug testers on campus. The film had a lot of promise at the start. The main characters were funny and interesting and Adrien Brody was amazing as a whacked out drug dealer. He was so strange! It looked like he had a lot of fun going out on a limb and playing such a weird person. However, the movie became a tad boring because it went over the top with slapstick and craziness.

#8 Bass Ackwards. Aimless Linas Phillips drives across the country and on the way he learns a lot about himself and comes out of his shell. The film moved as slowly as Linas' 1976 VW bus travelled across the country. I was impressed that Linas wrote, directed and stared in this flick, but I admit I closed my eyes a couple of times fighting sleep during the show.

A couple of movies we wanted to see but didn't were Runaways w/ Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. This was the movie about Joan Jett and Cherie Currrie and the band they were in called the Runaways. I'll watch that when it's released in two months. Get Low has an incredible cast with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek among others....you can't go wrong with a group like that. HappyThankyouMorePlease has to be seen just for the title!

All in all, the experience of Sundance amidst the beauty of Park City made for a great trip. I don't think I'll make it an annual trip, but I certainly want to return again. But, I'll definitely get hard tickets in hand so that more movies can be seen and more than 5 hrs of sleep can be had each night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gal Pal Trip 2010

Just returned from our annual Gal Pal trip, this year to Pacific Grove. Every year we get together and go either to wine country or to Carmel/Monterey. The group consists of 8 women and we all know each other through golf. We either played junior, amateur or professional golf together and funny enough until two years ago, we never played golf on this trip. Nobody competes professionally anymore, although we are all self proclaimed Alpha females who are extremely competetive.....at least compared to the average female!
The women in this group teach golf , coach golf at universities, or work for the National First Tee....we also have one who works in commercial real estate and one in who works for law enforcement. It's quite a collection of careers. Nobody is shy or at a loss for words!
Bottom line is we laugh and relax and get away from our "regular" lives. Most of the gals are moms and they appreciate a couple of days w/o catering to their kids and husbands needs.
We play games at night like dominos, catch phrase, taboo, and believe it or not a very intense game of spoons! Nothing that requires too much brain power!
We had an awesome round of golf at Ft. Ord's Bayonette course. The course was in tip top shape and the weather was perfect for mid-January. We had 4 two person teams and played a shamble, which you pick the best drive and then play your own ball into the hole from there. This allowed us to not have to grind over every shot and promoted "team" play. We also had a foursome to foursome competition. Everything turned out great for team K-2 (Kiernan and Kay) as we won the twosome and foursome bets. I also won a couple of skins! Thanks Kiernan for all of your long, straight drives. I love having 8 iron or less into every hole!
I actually played very well despite not practicing or playing in weeks. I had a very clear head, not cluttered with swing thoughts and saw only the target. My routine has become even more simple and I focused only on club selection and setup. Ahh, it's nice to play with simplicity. Did I mention we played in just under 4 hours? Fast golf=Fun golf!
Thank you ladies for a fabulous get together! You are all fantastic and I look forward to our next rendez-vous. Cheers!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Twenty Ten

Can you believe the 1900's are firmly behind us now? Doesn't it seem like yesterday we thought Prince's "party like it's 1999" was so far away? The number 2010 is quite dramatic to me and signifies a new decade and era even more than when the calendar turned to 2000. So, what do we do now that we are at the beginning of not just a new year, but a new decade? I think it's important at the beginning of the year to take inventory of what each of us has in our lives both physically and spiritually. It's a good time to asses the positives and negatives in our lives and figure out what we need and what we can get rid of, both figuratively and literally. Look at yourself and your life honestly and decide what things need to change and what things should remain the same. Change can be very positive and healthy. At the start of a new year, it's fun to take up a new hobby or activity....especially for us edging up there in age. It stimulates the mind and body and keeps us engaged and growing. My plans for the New Year are to simplify, simplify. I'm going to continue to edit things out of my life and home that are extraneous. I will organize my office and notes for work. I plan on volunteering more--I'm looking at Project Open Hand, the SF Child Abuse Prevention Center, and the SF Golden Gate Parks and will figure out which groups work best with my schedule. I'm going to jump into the pool and start swimming a couple of days a week and Danny and I are going to resume ballroom dancing. There will be personal things to work on as well, but I'm not going share those! Lo siento. Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy year. Be safe and enjoy time with your loved ones, whether they are two or four legged!