The Press and Industry screenings don't issue tickets to the individual screenings, but rather you use your badge to get into whatever you want (after waiting in line). To control re-entry, they stamp your hand with a different color stamp for each screening which means that after a full five-film day like today your hand looks like this. It's kind of a badge of pride.
(editor's note: We apologize that, due to unknowable computer malarkey, we are unable to reproduce the image of Andy's hand provided by the author. Suffice it to say that it was quite stunning.)
Once again we started our day at Eccles with the public screening of The Look of Love, this new Michael Winterbottom movie starring Steve Coogan as Paul Raymond, the British entrepreneur who made a fortune from adult magazines and strip clubs (there's a bit of a theme we're picking up on this year).
From there I dashed back to the Holiday Cinema to catch Concussion. One of the best films I've seen so far, the film is about a wealthy, suburban lesbian housewife whose life turns upside down after suffering a severe head injury. She seeks out a secret life in the city but it soon becomes impossible for her to keep her double life hidden.
I then caught Breathe In, the new film by Like Crazy director drake doremus. Guy Pearce plays a seemingly happily married husband, high school music teacher and concert cellist who begins to feel a pull for a more exciting life after an exchange student from England comes to stay with the family. (Again, some more common themes popping up here).
Next up was Inequality for All a documentary on former labor secretary Robert Reich and his decades long work on income inequality in the United States. Reich is such a smart and charming guy, the doc was a real pleasure to watch while also being very informative. It's been one of my highlights of the festival so far.
We had to have another rushed dinner because we knew we'd have to line up early for Escape from Tomorrow, a film getting a lot of buzz around the festival. The buzz is all due to the fact that the movie was secretly filmed on location at Disney World and everyone knew that Disney's legal department would never let the film see the light of day. The screening was packed, but the film was ultimately pretty underwhelming, though the effort was very admirable. It was a full five-film day and I was so ready to hit the bed to get ready for Monday's lineup.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints was another big buzz film here at Sundance so I was determined to get into the Monday morning screening. Sure enough, the lines formed early but we made it in. Directed by David Lowery (whose short film Pioneer played Indie Grits a couple of years ago) the film stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Ben Foster in a sort of neo-western. Beautifully shot and nicely paced it was one of my favorites of the festival so far.
The schedule was such that everyone was rushing out of that screening to quickly hop over to C.O.G., a film based on a David Sedaris essay. It was a bit of a mad dash, but we made it in. COG follows a young grad student from Yale as he ventures out to Oregon to work on an apple orchard. It ended up not being as funny as you'd expect from a David Sedaris essay, but as you would expect it had some incredibly emotional and revealing moments in it.
Next up was Fruitvale, which Isaac mentioned. It's proven to be the most powerful film of the festival so far, with sniffles being heard throughout the theater and teary eyes evident as we left.
We had a surprisingly adequate amount of time to grab diner tonight, so with we sat down with Russ Collins from the Michigan theater in Ann Arbor, as well as our friends from Maiden Alley Cinema and Aperture Cinema. Actually getting to eat some vegetables and some protein, I was in much better shape (I've pretty clearly reached my granola bar limit).
(Samantha Berg, left, a former SeaWorld trainer, and director Gabriela Cowperthwaite from the movie "Blackfish." Photo credit -- Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The final film of the evening was Blackfish - a shocking and revealing documentary on Orcas in captivity. Like The Cove, which played at the Nick years ago, the film does a great job documenting the clear intelligence and consciousness of these whales. It convincingly links the many attacks on trainers at Sea World and other aquatic parks to frustration that builds in some of these animals after being forced into captivity for so long. Really a great film.
Only four films today because our friends from the Art House Convergence are having us over for a party tonight. Looking forward to it!