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.