This year I attended and volunteered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Here's a rundown of the movies I saw and the ones I recommend!
Nobody Walks, starring John Krasinski, Olivia Thirbly, Rosemarie Dewitt, Justin Kirk. I gave it 3 stars at the time, but it was the first movie I saw, so I have since demoted it. Probably would give it 2 stars now. John plays a sound mixer in LA, who is married to Rosemarie, a therapist who used to be a feminist revolutionary or something. Olivia comes to stay with them from NYC to work on her short film, "the bug movie" or something like that. and lots of bad choices and sexy times ensue.
Cast of Nobody Walks at the Q&A:
Liberal Arts, written, directed, and produced by and starring Josh Radnor, as well as Elizabeth Olson, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Meredith Gray's mom from Grey's Anatomy, and Elizabeth Reaser. One of the best comedies I saw; 4 stars. I thought it was funny that they made fun of Twilight-type books, and yet one of the actresses is in those movies! Josh plays an admissions councilor at a NY college who returns to his alma mater in Ohio for his professor's retirement party (Jenkins). Elizabeth Olson is the 19-year-old daughter of another couple, who is attending the college. she and Josh bond and he struggles with their relationship. It's very well-written and funny.
Liberal Arts cast at the Q&A (Josh is at the podium; Right to left is Kate Burton, Allison, richard, Elizabeth Olson, and John Magarocheck it out! only 7 minutes.) everything after that was kinda strange. Robots of Brixton won the Special Jury Award for Animation Direction.
Then I saw Sleepwalk with Me at the Library Theater before my volunteer shift. It was written by Mike Birbiglia and his brother Joe, based on Mike's experiences trying to make it as a stand-up comedian, while having violent episodes of sleepwalking. (I used to sleepwalk on vacation!) Another excellent comedy. Lauren Ambrose stars as Mike's girlfriend, but she wasn't at the screening. I only got a picture of Ira Glass, one of the producers (he also has a cameo as a photog). Mike was there, as was Carol Kane, who you probably know from Princess Bride, Marc Maron (a popular comic who gives Mike advice in the movie; he must have been staying at our hotel b/c i saw him in the lobby at 6:50 am!), and a few other cast members and a lot of the crew.
Goats at Eccles. It was pretty good. the young star, Graham Phillips, was very good...and very easy on the eyes. (he's totally legal! 19 in a few months!)
Cast of Goats at the Q&A: Vera Farmiga, not sure her name, Dakota Johnson, Ty Burrell, David Duchovny, Anthony Hamilton (i think? is that his name? he's not listed in the cast on IMDb), Graham Phillips, and the director Christopher Neil. Not present: Keri Russell and Justin Kirk. (that guy plays a great asshole.)
Wednesday was Volunteer Appreciation Day, so we got to go to a free screening of Safety Not Guaranteed. We were surprised the Director and screenwriter were there for a Q&A for us lowly vols! The movie starred Aubrey Plaza (April on Parks and Rec), Jake Johnson (from New Girl), and Mark Duplass, with cameos by Kristen Bell, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Jeff Garlin. It was also very good!
On Thursday we waitlisted the documentary Finding North at the MARC (which is at the Park city Racquet Club. i thought it was cool that on the other side of the curtain, people were playing tennis). It showed many people around the country who are hungry, and sometimes overweight, because they can't afford real food. I thought it was very timely as Feb/March are Minnesota FoodShare campaign time. 1 in 6 people are hungry in this country! So if that gets bought and distributed, you should see it.
Then we saw For Ellen at Eccles, which is pretty much the only movie I saw that I would not recommend. I should have read the reviews before I was sitting in the theater to see it. It was as slow as described. There weren't any stars of the movie there, but we did see Amber Tamblyn and David Cross in the entourage section (and then stood right by them in the lobby afterwards...) it was kind of strange. it's also strange that they are dating, as she is my age (28) and he is 19 years her senior!
Friday morning we left the house early to see Hello I Must Be Going, once again at Eccles (it's the biggest venue with about 1200 seats, so it's easy to get in without a ticket bought in advance or a special pass). It has the same premise as Liberal Arts: 35-year-old involved with a 19-year-old, except in this case Melanie Lynskey (from Ever After and two and a half men) is the older one. it was really funny and charming. It was directed by Todd Louiso and written by his wife. you probably don't know that name, but you would recognize Todd from High Fidelity (he works at the record store) and small roles in lots of other things. No cast members at the Q&A, just Todd and his wife and two producers, I think. This is a movie I'd recommend to adults of any age.
And last but not least on Saturday morning, the documentary The House I Live In at the Egyptian.The writer/director/producer was inspired by the family and life of black woman who worked for his family when he was growing up; her son died as a result of drug use, so he looks into the history of criminalization of drug use in the US, and specific targeted racial groups. today, the targeted group is cultural: poor people. so my solution to both of the subjects of these docs is have all the criminals in prison grow fruits and vegetables to give/sell for cheap to the poor and hungry people (and lots of government reform) and then everyone will be rehabilitated and no longer fat and hungry! tada!
I saw a few celebs while I was working at the Library theater: during Smashed, Aaron Paul, Nick Offerman, and Megan Mullally (who was looking too skinny and had to be helped up the stairs into the building as she was wearing wicked high heels; when she left I think she was wearing snow boots); during Grabbers, Richard Coyle and probably lots of not-yet-famous Irishmen; during Filly Brown, Edward James Olmos. Rhi was working while i saw Sleepwalk with Me, and said that Eddie Izzard walked the press line, but he left early and I didn't see him. (he isn't in that movie.) Spike Lee and his entourage stayed at our hotel, as well as the attorney general (no one in my group could recall his name), which is why there were secret service guys about (not that I noticed them).
A lot of the movies are balloted, meaning they are up to win an Audience Award. here are all the Award winners.
I only got to 10 screenings, so I hope all the other movies get released so I can see them when they come to town or on TV!