Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tales From Park City - I Drank His Milkshake

Apologies for the late post. I needed to hit the hay early on Sunday night, and was busy yesterday tying up loose ends and getting ready to fly back. Monday's column will be up later today/tonight.


Sunday’s films at Slamdance:

  • Animation Showcase: As a medium, animation allows the filmmaker to create content without any connection to the physical world. It’s the rare place where the artist can literally create anything that he/she wants, regardless of how crazy it might sound. I found a few gems in this program, but on the whole, there were a lot of abstract pieces. I tend to fall a bit more on the narrative side of things with regard to form. That’s a personal preference of mine, and not a reflection on any of the filmmakers who, to a person, are all very talented artists. Here are a few that I really liked.

    -An Elegy for Eden – I’m not entirely sure what the proper term is for the technique director Jason Gay McLagan used to create this one, but it’s lovely. It’s ironic too, because I thought that the film was a strange take on the Eden myth, but it’s apparently meant to represent the breakdown of personality in the digital age.
    -Gum – hilarity. This is probably the best in the punch if you’re going pound for pound. There’s really just not any fat.
    -Home – A sweetly raunchy (or is “accurate” a better term?) look at what makes a house a home.
    -I Am Tom Moody – probably my favorite in the bunch. Tom Moody is about to play his first concert, but has to have a quick conversation with someone who doesn’t want him to. I guess I’m a sucker for pieces about self-actualization, particularly when they feel true to life and avoid the corny factor.
    -Noodle Fish – beautifully animated in what appears to be a sandbox. A story about a little fish who decides that he would like to see the world outside the water. He also encounters some aquatic philosophers, which was terrific.
    -Tap to Retry – this made me laugh. A series of quick vignettes (though I think that vignettes is a poor term to use for a description) related to the emotional impermeability of the modern world.
    -Triangle – wonderfully inventive piece more than a little inspired by the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence in Dumbo.

  • Between Us – anytime one of the Festival’s founders makes a film (and it’s actually programmed by the team!), they do what’s called a Founder’s Screening. You might recall last year’s Wild In The Streets? This time around, it’s Dan Mirvish. I was supposed to see another film, but after it sold out, I decided to watch Between Us instead of waiting in the rush line for something that wasn’t a sure thing. Plus, I didn’t want to sit on the floor, which people are wont to do at Slamdance if seats are no longer available. Mind you, I think it’s awesome when people do that. I just don’t want to do it myself. Also, Dan promised milkshakes to those who came to the screening. Honestly. I scored a vanilla shake that was pretty good too.  Props to editor Dean Gonzalez for going to the trouble to make them at all. Based on a play by Joe Hortua, Between Us is about the alternately ascending/descending relational trajectories of two different couples. One (Julia Stiles and Taye Diggs) seems like the better adjusted of the two at first, while the other (Melissa George and David Harbour) . . . not so much. Let’s just say that things get kinda out of hand at a reunion. Make that two reunions. The best thing about the film is the way that the two reunions (with two years between them) are intercut in such a way as to illuminate certain parallels and show just how much these people have changed over time. It’s a nice movie, but nothing to really write home about. The performances don’t really hit as hard as they might have been intended to, and I think that the writing could have stood a little more punch to make things a bit tougher. That said, I liked the film’s black sense of humor.

  • Visitors (Die Besucher) – with a big tip of the cap to BigWords, this is the best film I’ve seen at Slamdance 2013. It’s a wonderfully mature look at family dynamics, the way they change over time, and the nature of child/parent interdependence in modern society. Jakob, in his late 50’s, goes to visit his three adult children in Berlin for the first time in years, but doesn’t tell his wife, Hanna. Let’s just say that they’re not on the best of terms, and the family has to deal with a lot of stuff that they’ve been sweeping under the rug. Part of what makes the film so interesting is the way that it explores the way that kids these days are having to rely financially on their parents much, much longer they used to, and the subsequent tension, resentment, confusion that can come as a result. There’s a particularly lovely scene in which one character makes one of the most heartfelt speeches I’ve heard in a film in a long time. I’d say more, but that would give away too much.  The performances are terrific, the writing is terrific, and I was really surprised to learn that Visitors is director/co-writer Constanze Knoche’s first feature film. This is one to look out for.

At the close of the night, I ended up at the Between Us party for a little while before heading back to the condo to try and catch some sleep before heading out early in the morning. Before Midnight was set to roll at 8:30 AM, and I needed to be there an hour early to get in the rushline. I’ll let you guess as to when this pillow hawk needed to get up to make that happen.

More later,

P.S. And here’s Rand’s Dave Grohl story in his own words . . .


Scene: VIP lounge pre Chef-Dance dinner/concert

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters wonders behind the small bar to hand out beers.

Dave: Do you want a drink?

Me: I couldn't go back to my normal life on Orange County if I refused a drink from Dave Grohl... But you have to do a shot with us!

Dave: Only if it's whiskey.

Me: (trying not to look elated) Perfect!

Dave pours 3 shots. My boss, friend and I take a shot of Crown Royale. 

The end.

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