I should have known it was coming on Sunday, when a perfectly attractive young lady who was sitting next to me on a Sundance Film Festival shuttle loudly huffed to a pal sitting behind us, “I haven’t even kissed anyone in a year! I just need to make out with someone tonight. Anyone!” Her sentiments were matched by just about everyone else on Day 5 of the Sundance Film Festival, as I witnessed high school dance-style bump and grind dancing at a swank party at the Grey Goose Lounge, a drunk man on Main St. screaming at a cab driver that he knew that the cab driver won’t pick him because he wanted to have sex with him (surely, sir, it could have nothing to do with the fact that you’re drunk and screaming in the middle of Main St. at two in the morning), and another taxi passenger asking random strangers if they had hookers or blow. Everyone at Sundance has gone mad and sex-obsessed and insane.
Me? I was just tired.
Monday. After four hours of sleep, I tucked in to a series of P&I screenings at Park City’s Holiday theaters (hence my be-hand-stamped mitt up above). They had coffee in the morning, and muffins, but their sandwiches and soups had run out by the time lunch rolled around, leaving hungry patrons with slim choices – including their “pizza,” which should never be considered a viable option by anyone else. Ever. Trust me.
First up – Liz W. Garcia’s The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell as a disaffected twentysomething who runs away from her “real life” in New York City to return home to suburban Connecticut, where she swiftly regresses back to choices that would prove poor even for immature teenagers. While I was looking forward to the film, primarily to see Bell in a more dramatic role, The Lifeguard was a bust for me. The film shares a startlingly number of beats with Drake Doremus’ Breathe In, but while Doremus film is well-crafted enough to still be engaging even as it’s infuriating, Garcia’s film is weak and cheaply put together (Garcia has apparently never met a musical cue she didn’t like – hello, manipulation). The Lifeguard was the first real bust-up of the festival for me. Also? Last year’s Hello I Must Be Going did this schtick last year – and far better.
After a brief break in the Holiday tent, it was back into the theater to see Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s C.O.G. I have a full review coming, but I will say that the first half of the David Sedaris short story-based film is quite funny, star Jonathan Groff is quite wonderful, and Alvarez’s feature debut, Easier With Practice, still remains my favorite of his works.
The final press screening of the day was for a film that’s been getting a ton of buzz at the festival – Ryan Coogler’s fact-based Fruitvale, which was just picked up The Weinstein Company. For days now, everyone has been searching for “this year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and while I’m not interested in playing that game, the buzz has been on Fruitvale in a Beasts-similar way. This is the film to see. I cried so hard during Fruitvale that I needed to sit in the theater through the credits until the lights came back on. The only Sundance film I’ve ever cried harder during was How to Die in Oregon back in 2011, when I cried so hard that I had to stay through the credits, till the lights came back on, and then an additional fifteen minutes. And then I cried again as soon as someone asked me what I had just seen.
Tears dried, Park City’s preoccupation with sex continued unabated. Even in a Subway sandwich shop, a geeky-looking dude stood around, wearing a tee shirt the proclaimed him to be a “FAMOUS VIRGIN.” (Is this a thing? A reference I’ve missed? I don’t care, there were children there.) That, paired with the guy who wandered around our hotel wearing a man-sized velvet Snuggie and who screamed at me, “I am so fucking comfortable in this that I am getting a boner!” apropos of goddamn nothing, pushed me over the edge. I needed a quiet room and a bed and a light and time to write.
And I got that. And then, later, there was fried chicken and beer.
The final film of Day 5 was Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight, which world premièred at the Eccles Theatre to a very enthusiastic crowd. While I also have a full review of this film coming, I will say that Kathryn Hahn is fantastic as ever, the film has tremendous troubles with maintaining an even tone, but I still frequently laughed and felt satisfied by its end. Considering how the day started, this was no small feat.
And then there was whiskey, and sleep, and getting up to do it all over again. See you on the other side.