"The Son of No One" was another complete waste of time and yet it was the one with all the stars! You got Al Pacino, Ray Liotta, Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, Tracey Morgan, and yet it's total garbage. I should have known this because it was directed by the guy that did "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" another Sundance hit that I saw and hated passionately. This guy's style is lots of brooding and insular tension with a completely overwrought score. Lots of scenes of actors looking glum and intense. Hate that.
And, it had my biggest pet peeve in movies, that thing where if the main character just talked about the problem or told his secret, there would be no point to the movie. Like "I'm going to get close to this person for an article I'm writing on love and then not tell them until I do fall in love with them and they hate me because I kept it from them and they feel our relationship is a fraud and based on inorganic motivation". Whatever. I hate that so much. In this case, Channing Tatum grows up in the projects and accidentally kills a couple of druggies, but Al Pacino lets him get away with it because he was partners with his dad and that's what cop friends do for each other. So, he grows up and decides at the age of 30 to be what? A COP! Of course! But, someone knows his secret and begins leaking it to the paper and the police and it ruins Channing's life and marriage because, of course he's never told his wife, Katie Holmes, any of this. Anyway, the ending is just as stupid as the whole rest of the movie and no one acts or behaves in a way that makes any sense at all. This movie comes out later this year, so maybe you'll see for yourselves. Score: 1
By this point, I'm getting pretty frustrated. Too many disappointing movies in a row is a drag, especially in one 24 hour span. I need some good news and I need it now before I go postal on one of these lame ass directors. And, just like that, it came!
The movie I had wanted to see more than any other was a documentary on A Tribe Called Quest by actor Michael Rapaport called “Beats, Rhymes, and Life”, but all shows were completely sold out. We had a few hours to kill and a lot of movies we’d like to see all starting at around the same time, which meant going all in on the one we stood the best chance of getting into and wait in line. If we didn’t get in we had two hours to waste until the next round (and it meant not getting into anything else we may have wanted). We decided to go with Tribe and take our chances and the bet paid off. We were the last group allowed in and got to meet Michael and shake his hand, our first star sighting. He was very nice and appreciative, humble and funny.
The movie was your basic Behind the Music episode, which is fine for me since I’m a sucker for that. I love that band and I loved getting to know them better. Taken all together, however, it made for the highlight of the trip and epitomized exactly what you want from a Sundance experience. Seeing stars who are cool and nice, seeing a movie you’re dying to see that is a hot ticket, and taking a bit of a risk to make it all happen. Perfect. As a cherry on top, before we left the screening, I spotted TJ Miller, who is an up and coming actor/comedian from films like “She’s Out Of My League” and “Gulliver’s Travels”. He walked by and I grabbed his shoulder and said “you’re hilarious”. He introduced himself by saying “Hi, I’m TJ” to which I replied “I know” and then thanked me very emphatically and then said hi to Farrah. Again, just what it’s all about. Score: 8
From here it was back to Flippin’ Burgers for some amazing chili cheese fries (Farrah couldn’t get enough) and a little down time with the Tippets before closing out the night with two more shows.
First up was a British film we had very low expectations for called “Perfect Sense”. The description didn’t sound like our thing, but it had Ewan McGregor and Eva Green and sometimes, after a while, you just want to see something with people you recognize. Good thing we did. It was an extremely unique spin on a disaster/virus movie where people all over the world suddenly get very depressed, then lose their senses one by one. Ewan is a chef and Eva is a doctor who meet when it's just starting and come together as the virus slowly takes hold and it all makes for one of the most human, sexy, inventive and captivating movie experiences I’ve had in a while. A lot of that is due to my low expectations and general disinterest in this kind of subject matter. But, it showed me that you can’t underestimate the visceral power of beautiful actors and a unique idea. It’s gold. If/when this comes out be sure to track it down. A hidden gem. Score: 8.5.
A quick note about seeing stars. In the crowds of people that show up for these movies, you’d swear half of them are small character actors. It’s like looking through dense fog at people you may or may not have gone to junior high with. Every now and then you see a face and think “in a different context that may have been that one person from that one show”.
Our last tickets of the festival were for whatever film won the best documentary prize. Last year it ended up being “Restrepo” which was just nominated for an Oscar. There were many in the running that we really wanted to see, especially one about the guy behind Elmo. We were bummed when the winner was announced to be “How To Die In Oregon” about people who take advantage of the physician-assisted suicide that is allowed in the state, one of the ones we were not jonesing for. However, it ended up being extremely heartfelt and involving. One of the primary participants is a sweet lady named Cody Curtis, a 50 something year old mother of two who has stomach cancer. We follow her for about a year as she prepares to die, says goodbye to friends, gives her belongings away, and even lives longer than she was initially told she would which causes some consternation over whether to go through with the suicide or when. You come away feeling very blessed that you got to get to know this amazing woman during her last days on earth and feel of her love and spirit.
I have issues with documentaries that don’t adequately or fairly show the opposing view of whatever the topic is. Interestingly, the director of “Oregon” didn’t even bother to tell both sides of the issue. It’s pretty fluffy overall and would probably be a big hit on Lifetime at some point. But, I didn’t care. I was pretty overwhelmed by it all (not to mention I completely agree that people should be allowed to have these suicides if they want to). I’m glad I saw it. Score: 8
So, that’s it. Another successful trip to Sundance. We plan to make this an annual event, as long as family or friends are able to watch the kids, which we’re so grateful for and couldn’t do it without. It’s truly an experience any film lover should take part of at some point in their lives. And, now that we’ve turned on the Tippets, we’re hoping we can add a friend or two each year. Makes it that much sweeter.