So in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been giving each other nicknames in our Sundance posts. It’s a solidarity thing. Whitney is "El Jefe," Missy is "El Sueter," editor Dawnie Walton is "Flaps." Well as of last night, we’ve crowned Sundance vet Owen Gleiberman "The Big Cheese." Why? He had the VIP power to get "Flaps" and me into a party that — granted we waited for 20 minutes to get in — was at "capacity." Matthew Perry came out of it, so it had to be good, right? Sure, the ambience was cozy: good booze, good music (I’m old so that means Depeche Mode), and good company. People were talking within comfortable personal distances — and even dancing — which is more than you can say about clubs in New York’s Meatpacking District. What perplexed us when we finally walked out was that the venue was not at "capacity," yet people were still waiting in droves. Hell, even Rachel Dratch was bundled up in the crowd trying to make her way in. So here’s to our "Big Cheese," or as one actor on the street referred to him, "the Julia Child of film criticism."
Tag: Sundance Film Festival (41-50 of 90)
"Feel free to laugh," said director Terry Kinney before the premiere of Diminished Capacity, his comedy about Alzheimer’s, baseball cards, and going home again — and the audience was happy to oblige. Starring Matthew Broderick, Virginia Madsen, and anchored by the always-excellent Alan Alda, the movie was warmly received by the folks at Eccles tonight, with one woman standing up simply to scream out "BRAVO!!" during the Q&A. I was sitting next to one of the film’s financiers, and he told me beforehand that I was free to hate the movie — which is seeking distribution — but I didn’t. It’s my second head injury picture in as many days (after Smart People yesterday, coincidentally starring Broderick’s wife, who you may have heard of), and I’d watch a third, at this rate. Seems the Broderick/Jessica Parker family figures the airfare to Park City was worth it. As Matthew said at the podium tonight, "This was a good weekend." Could get better: Buyers have yet to drop a big wad of cash on anything, and this project has talent to burn. Could it score the first big money on this special Sundance edition of Press Your Luck? Stay tuned. No whammies. —Whitney Pastorek
Later this week, you’ll see my on-camera interview with the peeps from Pretty Bird (peeps, get it?! ha!), the directorial debut of indie character actor Paul Schenider (Lars and the Real Girl), starring Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, SNL‘s Kristen Wiig, and David Hornsby (Six Feet Under) as a misfit pack of losers who band together to make and market a "rocket belt" (i.e. jet pack). Well, actually, it was barely an interview — I said maybe 20 words the entire time, as the five essentially riffed off each other unabated for five minutes at a time. (I probably could’ve just gotten up and left, as they all were handling things fine without me.)
I especially wish the Pretty Bird audience at the Racquet Club last night had a chance to witness the freewheeling hilarity of that "interview," because they certainly didn’t experience it in the film itself. Laced with a mordantly off-kilter sense of humor, the movie seemed to make many people laugh out of confusion as much as anything else, and the last 30 minutes left most completely bewildered. Waiting outside for the shuttle bus afterward, one long-standing indie distributor muttered, to no one in particular, "I don’t understand why they even placed that in the festival. It was so bad." While I don’t know if I’d go that far (I’ve certainly seen far worse here), I do hope for Schneider and Co.’s sake that they’re able to remain in the same good spirits today that they demonstrated at our EW studio yesterday.
I know I should be giving you the pulse on all of Sundance’s hits and misses, but on Friday I went to the premiere of a movie that falls smack in the middle of the pack: Frozen River. While definitely worth seeing, there hasn’t been much chatter about it one way or the other. Here’s hoping that changes.
The drama follows two destitute women (played by Misty Upham and Melissa Leo) who smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S. across the Canadian border. Director Courtney Hunt’s inspiration for the film, which started out as a short, were articles in which she read about actual women smugglers who’d drive across the frozen Saint Lawrence River, from Ontario to New York. "They smuggle many different things," Hunt says. "In the last 10 years, it’s turned more to illegal immigrants. That was interesting to me…. And I talked to smugglers and got a sense of why they do it and who they were." (Frozen River isn’t a political movie, but thank god somebody is willing to acknowledge that the U.S. doesn’t only border Mexico.) Hunt’s casting of Leo (21 Grams, Homicide: Life on the Street) and Upham was an interesting one: The former is a 30-year industry vet who is grateful for finally being able to sink her teeth into a lead character, while Hunt recruited Upham, a relative newcomer to the film business, off of a Native American actors website. Says Hunt, "I cast her really from her picture and a conversation with her on the telephone."
I just got back from the premiere of the Forest Whitaker-narrated documentary Made in America, filmmaker Stacey Peralta’s follow-up to 2004’s surfing doc Riding Giants. The film is an account of life as a gang member in the Bloods and Crips, which Peralta — though archival footage and interviews with experts — connects to African-American history in South Los Angeles, going way back into the 19th Century. The audience was amped up for the sold-out event, cheering as the lights dimmed. (I ran into Little Miss Sunshine producer Ron Yerxa at the concession stand, and he was excited to see it.) After the curtain came down, Peralta and six former gang members hit the stage for a Q&A — which prompted a standing-O from the audience. We’ll be interviewing Peralta & Co. tomorrow, so stay tuned…
Unfortunately, I can’t quite tell you how the audience reacted to young Elle Fanning in the title role of Phoebe in Wonderland — I had to race to another screening as the final credits rolled, so I missed the post-show Q&A with Fanning and other members of the film’s cast and crew. The applause as I scurried out the door was muted, but that could just be because the film’s ending — which I won’t spoil here — was truly bittersweet. (Okay, here’s a hint: The movie follows the 9-year-old Phoebe and her mother, played by Felicity Huffman, as they both struggle with Phoebe’s increasingly mysterious and troubling obsessive behavior and her Alice in Wonderland-infused fantasy life.)
I can tell you for certain, though, that Phoebe in Wonderlandmade quite an impression on one audience member in particular: JodieFoster. I know this because she was sitting right next to me. I askedher what other films she’d seen here, andshe told me she actually was only in town to see Phoebe.Well, that, "and some skiing." It turns out that her kids go to thesame preschool as the kids of the film’s first-time writer-director,Daniel Barnz. (A longtime Hollywood screenwriter, he also penned a project called Sugarland, that Foster had been attached to direct.) Anyway, one scene in particular — in which Phoebe sobs in her mother’s arms, helpless to explain what is wrong — moved meand, from what I could tell, Foster, quite deeply. We’ll see if thefilm made the same impression on distributors like the folks from Miramax, who I spotted on the way out. (And if you were wondering: No,alas, I did not make my next screening in time. Damn you, Sundancetraffic!)
Hello again, PopWatchers!
So last night was the EW party here at the Dance of the Sun. Twas a fun affair held up in the mountains at a place called the Legacy Lodge, which is where I saw the Beastie Boys perform two years ago. Anyhoo, the EW gang was all there (hey! hey! hey!). Vanessa "Ciudad" Juarez gave our managing editor Rick Tetzeli the nickname of "El Jefe Super Wow," which must be pronounced with an authentic accent, no gringo butchering. Also on the scene was Eliza Dushku, who is fast becoming our favorite person to hang out with here. Earlier in the day, she and I had chatted in the EW photo lounge about her movie, Bottle Shock, and about both being Massachusetts girls. Go Pats! (Whitney "el Jefe" Pastorek and Jason "Travels With a Harem" Averett just couldn’t resist making fun of me for not knowing anything about football. I admit that I don’t. But does that mean I can’t cheer for the Patriots? It’s out of love for my step-dad and little bro!) Buffy fans will be delighted to know that Dushku and Joss Whedon are moving full steam ahead on a new series about imprinting identities on people and far-out stuff like that. The plan is to get goin’ as soon as the strike is over. Anyway, on to today’s agenda, after the jump.
To say the audience was electric after the conclusion of Sunday’s noonscreening of Anvil! The Story of Anvil is an understatement. Sacha Gervasi’sdocumentary about the world’s hardest-working, most under-appreciated metal band certainly struck achord with its Sundance audiences and should get purchased by a distributorbefore the conclusion of the festival. The band has been around for 30 years andthese 50-something rockers are still trying to make it big. It could be that they finally have. —Nicole Sperling
Every now and then, Sundance holds a Salt Lake City Gala, a snazzy, big-city-appropriate premiere, and on Friday night, the designated movie — The Great Buck Howard — looked worth the hassle of the 40-minute drive from Park City to Salt Lake. It’s a gentle showbiz comedy starring Colin Hanks as a law-school dropout who takes a gig as the personal assistant to the title "mentalist," played, in humanized wack-out mode, by John Malkovich. Emily Blunt also stars as Buck’s publicist.
But the real draw in Salt Lake — for audiences and entertainment reporters alike — was Tom Hanks, who produced the movie, appears in two scenes as his real-life son Colin’s movie dad, worked the red carpet, and introduced the screening with his customary brio. "Welcome to you!" The elder Hanks told the crowd. "We are in the central hub, the absolute nexus of all of show business, as far as the world is concerned — the Sundance Film Festival."
Salt Lake City, it turns out, was the perfect place to see The Great Buck Howard. If there were buyers in the crowd, I didn’t recognize them, and the only celeb I spotted not affiliated with the movie was Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (In both yapping on the red carpet and introducing the movie, by the way, the governor zealously busted out his Mandarin — apparently he’s the former U.S. ambassador to Singapore). The theater (and the sedate, well-lit after party) looked to be made up entirely of well-dressed locals, and they seemed to eat up the movie’s easy laughs and sweet, shambling, "I believe in magic" goodness in a way that I suspect the more dyspeptic, Blackberry-mad, grab-bag audiences of Park City might not be willing or able to duplicate. Indeed, in a shuttle bus in Park City on Saturday, I chatted up a young couple who’d just seen the movie — the bright-faced, smiley woman said she thought that The Great Buck Howard was nice; her dour-faced companion found it a little syrupy.
[Editor's Note No. 1: Method Man is in Park City supporting The Wackness (in which he stars as a Jamaican supplier to the weed-dealing main character). He stopped by EW headquarters on Saturday and agreed to guest-blog about his Sundance experience. Here, his unedited post...]
why do the peons at the sundance film festival feel like its there "job"no "responsibility" to discourage all the attendees from truly enjoying themselves….everyone isnt here 4 swag,thank u very much…these ppl should learn to approach these situations in a common manner…namely common sense and alot more common courtesy…..
[Editor's Note No. 2: Meth also told us that his favorite thing about Entertainment Weekly is The Shaw Report. Below, his own version.]
flavored blunt wraps in
clear rolling papers 5min.ago
bongs pipes,etc…outta here..
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