Two New Posts from Andy at Sundance!

  Yesterday was our first full day at Sundance, which means I knocked out five and a half movies. These end up really being endurance tests. Try to keep hydrated, caffeinated, fed, and awake.

Started off this morning with the new feature. This is Martin Bonner by Indie Grits alum Chad Hartigan (Luke and Brie are on a First Date). Produced by another IG alum Cherie Saulter, Martin Bonner is a small but powerful film that explores the idea of redemption through the relationship of a recently released convict and his counselor. Set in the dreary landscape of roadside Reno, Isaac and I both really enjoyed the restraint the film showed as well as tremendous cinematography and sound editing.

Fallen City, a new documentary on victims of the earthquake in western China, was a bit of a disappointment. While some of the stories of loss were really touching, I was one of a stream of people who decided to leave before it was over.

By leaving early I was able to catch Soldat Jeanette, which was a tough, but ultimately rewarding film. I'm not going to pretend that I've finished processing it, but the film references Jeanne D'Arc and Jeanne Dielman, and features a woman who decides to simply stop participating in capitalist culture. She runs off into the woods and ends up finding work on a farm. If nothing else, there's a shocking and graphic scene of a cow being slaughtered that got everyone's attention.

There was no time for lunch so after downing a couple of granola bars I settled in for Mud, the new film by Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols. Featuring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, the film is about two boys growing up on the Mississippi River who find a mysterious man named Mud living on an island in the river. Think Huck Finn with guns.

Then it was finally time for a warm meal. We headed to the little Mexican place next to the Holiday Cinema where all of the industry screenings are held. Scarfed down some tacos and then got back in line. Friday night at Sundance for a lot of people means lots of parties and celebrities, for us it meant two more documentaries on some pretty heavy subjects. God Loves Uganda explores the relationship between conservative evangelical American missionaries and the campaign to criminalize homosexuality in Uganda. Then we wrapped up the night with After Tiller, a doc on the four remaining doctors who perform late term abortions in the US ( Dr. Tiller was another one until he was assassinated). Both films left us with a lot to talk over so we retreated back to the condo to hash things out and then get a little sleep before doing it all over again.


By Saturday, we are deep into the festival. Most of the screenings we attend are separate press and industry screenings held at a venue that's outside of the normal hustle and bustle of the festival. Every morning though, there is a joint public and industry screening at Eccles Theatre, the largest venue in Park City. Isaac and I headed over there early Saturday morning to catch Don Jon's Addiction, written, directed and starring Joseph Gordon Levit. He plays a meaty Jersey guy with an obsession with Internet porn. Scarlett Johanson plays his love interest and Tony Danza is incredible as his dad. Levit was there to introduce the film but we cut out before his q&a to make our next movie.

As we were rushing to our next film, though, we were surprised on the sidewalk by former Nick employee Marie Halliday. After seeing how much fun we were having Marie decided to make the drive from LA in the middle of the night.

As we were rushing to our next film, though, we were surprised on the sidewalk by former Nick employee Marie Halliday. After seeing how much fun we were having Marie decided to make the drive from LA in the middle of the night.

Next up was Computer Chess, the new film by Andrew Bujalski (who Nick folks might remember from Southern Circuit many years ago). Shot on a primitive video format, the film is centered around a computer chess competition set in the early '80s. I really enjoyed the film, though its awkward pacing turned off a number of other folks.



Because my wife is a huge fan of the BBC's Pride and Prejudice I made a point of catching Austenland. Kerri Russell plays an American woman so obsessed with Mr. Darcy she heads to England for a vacation at an immersive Jane Austen resort.



After a quick dinner at the Chinese restaurant that apparently just opened today, we headed to our final (and favorite) movie of the day, Sightseers. A very dark British comedy, about a couple going on a sightseeing road trip, the film won't be for everyone, but it hit the spot for us.