Following a hearty meal of all you can eat vegan pizza with the various persons in town supporting Steaz sodas and energy drinks; we headed to Park City to catch Choke (see review below). I guess I ate a few too many slices, because I had to race to the yarrow to catch the 7 o'clock screening. FYI: it takes 45 minutes from the time one is scarfing down their last slice to sitting in the screening at the yarrow. That is, of course if you drive 90 most of the way and park illegally. Turns out I drove past the damn place twice.
* After the screening, the we assembled a modest crew including Scott Beiban (lost film fest), M1 (dead prez), Fluffy (Flufftronix), Liz Cole (evil twin booking), and myself (awesome). We headed over to the New Frontier lounge to catch DJ Spooky's video music collage about Antarctica. Spooky actually spent a month in Antarctica recording video and sounds of glaciers, icescapes, waves, weather, and wildlife.These were mixed live into a set of ambient electronic music, with the video projected 9 times on the walls around the room. The performance was well done, creating an atmosphere that was both relaxing and alien.
(Photo Caption: DJ Spooky performs for Park City festival goers in Sundance's Frontier Lounge)
Afterwards, we stopped by Cisero's to catch local DJ's Hot Noise and Kid Plastic with LA's Classixx. Turns out the door guy was such an asshole that we peaced the fuck out in less than 5 minutes. Lame. Avoid this club like a shit in the grass.
Not to be disheartened, we headed over to Harry O's to catch what we thought was the Common concert. Instead, DJ Fashen was killing it with an assortment of nu-rave, mashups, electro, and a touch of crunk and rock. The music was killer, but the club was still Harry O's meaning a bunch of tan, collared shirt douchebags dry humping the shit out of anything within ten feet of their pathetic shriveled wangs. No matter, we still burnt a rug and met a handful of (ok, two) cool people.
(Photo Caption: DJ Fashen at Harry O's )
Park City really winds down after the opening weekend, and it is interesting to see the vast contrast in crowds and events after Sunday. My advice would be to skip the opening weekend, unless there is something you absolutely have to see to survive.
Director: Clark Gregg
Rating: 3 out of 5 anal beads
(Photo Caption: Film still from Choke)
Choke presents the life of a sex addict hopelessly deranged due to his unorthodox childhood as an accomplice to his mother's dementia- related crimes. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahnuik, the story is unsurprisingly subversive - yet lacks the socio-economic themes of books like Fight Club, instead favoring more of a lighthearted message about personal sexuality and social responsibility. However, the heavier themes of novel are lost in translation; the viewer is instead presented with a demented romantic comedy with a tacked-on happy ending.
** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
There's something both funny and beautiful about Park City's Main Street before noon everyday during Sundance. The thousands of visitors are only a hundred. As the deliverymen stock the clubs and bars, you can almost hear the pounding headaches of the countless tourists in their surrounding hotels and condos. What was once chaotic hours before is now serene and calm.
Up first on my agenda was to acquire a ticket to Slamdance's (Yes, there is another festival along with Sundance that produces entertaining films as well) documentary, Wesley Willis's Joyrides. Mission accomplished. Look for the review on that flick tomorrow.
I had planned to see Paul Schneider's Pretty Bird, a film about three men and their quest to develop "the rocket belt", but upon arriving at the Yarrow Hotel, the enormous press line to Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? was impossible to ignore. I immediately called an audible. As I stood in line, I thought to myself, "Will this be a good as Super Size Me?" If there's one thing Spurlock knows how to do and how to do it well, it's entertaining audiences.
Title: Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Venue: Yarrow Hotel – Press Screening
Rating: 4 out of 5 Bearded Morgans
(Photo Caption: Film still from Where in the World is Osama bin Laden)
Within the first minute, we discover that Spurlock's wife, Alex, is pregnant. He soon questions himself on how he can protect his unborn child against predators, muggers, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the most wanted man on the planet, Osama bin Laden...que brilliant animation sequence. As the opening credits roll, a Mortal Kombat style cartoon depicts Morgan battling Osama whom both have special moves including "Redneck Power", "Turban Power", and the ultimate "Mustache Ride"...now I know this is going to be good. Before heading to the Middle East, Spurlock hires trainers to educate him on the dangerous situations he may come across including kidnappings, snipers, and the proper way to shield yourself from a grenade...que montage music, No Pain No Gain.
But Spurlock's film is not all fun and games. It's amazing to see the outlooks of individuals willing to speak to the camera, unlike the ones we see everyday on television screaming and burning the American flag. Yes, there are many people who hate America and all it's inhabitants, but the majority only hate our government. Thanks Bush. Spurlock is welcomed into countless homes and treated like family. One interviewee states, "Every society has a good and bad", and that's true. Why discriminate against an entire religion because of the actions of a small few?
After 93 minutes, Spurlock visits Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Does he get his one-on-one interview with bin Laden or the $25 million reward for his capture? I'll let you answer that question for yourself, but I will say that Spurlock has once again fulfilled his obligation to document an important issue with a comical bow wrapped tightly around it.
I had a few hours until my next film, so I decided to hit up Filmcatcher.com's Cyber Lounge on Main Street. Located at The Alpine Internet Cyber Coffeehouse, the event provided filmmakers and the press a chance to discuss films and their overall Sundance experience. I spoke with Steve Mendelsohn, the Executive Director of FilmAid, an organization that brings films to impoverished countries to educate, entertain, and motivate. Not only do they screen movies for locals, they also teach them the art of filmmaking so they can have a cinematic voice of their own.
Director: Clark Gregg
Venue: Yarrow Hotel – Press Screening
Rating: 4 out of 5 Sex Addicts Meetings
I returned to the Yarrow Hotel for the 7:00pm press screening of Clark Gregg's Choke, an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's 2002 novel. When discussing a film based on Palahniuk's literature, Fight Club is the first to come to mind, but I resisted my urge to compare the films, because the books are vastly different. Recently acquired by Fox Searchlight for $5 million, Choke tells the story of Victor Mancini, a con artist, a sex addict, the backbone of colonial America, and possibly a direct descendent of Jesus Christ. Years ago, I remember reading Palahniuk's novel thinking. "This would be a hard movie to capture accurately," but Gregg's vision appeared to accomplish the feat. Sam Rockwell was the perfect selection to capture the assholeiness that is Victor.
As soon as the credits rolled, I was out of my seat and racing to my car in order to make the last Park City screening of Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind. I know this film will be in theatres in a month, but my absolute respect for Gondry's earlier work forced me to see at A.S.A.P.
Title: Be Kind Rewind
Director: Michel Gondry
Venue: Red Stone Theatres – Public Screening
Rating: 4 out of 5 VHS Tapes
(Photo Caption: Film still from Be Kind Rewind)
Be Kind Rewind tells the story of Mike (Mos Def) and Jerry (Jack Black) and the cluster fuck that ensues when all of the video tapes are erased in their rental store due to Jerry's magneticification...is that even a word? In order to replace the tapes and refrain from upsetting Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), the storeowner, the duo set out to recreate the films themselves.
This movie could only be completed effectively with the imaginative mind that is Michel Gondry. The man is a pure genius. From using pizza to simulate blood splatter to placing a fan in front of the camera to replicate film quality from the 1920s, Gondry is the true epitome of a visionary. In one tracking shot, Gondry captures the most memorable scenes from several films including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Men in Black, and King Kong. While the film does have some problems with pace, Mia Farrow's acting, and maintaining a constant rate of Gondry's imaginative capabilities, the overall production fits quite well within his repertoire. Any fan of Gondry's will be a fan of Be Kind Rewind.
Tomorrow I'm scheduled to screen Wesley Willis's Joyrides, Adventures of Power, and Hell Ride. See you in 24 hours...