Sundancin': Swayin' To The Music III
Electric Boogaloo With A Vengeance

CriminyPete drags his ass back to Park City, Utah, to chill in a pimp pad and be all movie-like again.


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CriminyPete Returns To The P.C.:
Ski Jerks, Celebrities and Yuppie Shops

So. It comes to pass once more. My scrubby butt's in Utah to see a bunch of movies before other people do. Yes, I've been bereft of updates for quite some time. 2003 was not my year. But something about a change in chronological numerals tends to inspire renewal, getting one's shit together, the whole nine yards, what-have-you, yadda yadda.

And so on.

DAY ONE: 1/14/2004:

I'm in the shuttle from THE SLC to Park City (I have gotten into the insipid habit of referring to places in ways to mock "The O.C.," which I haven't seen and have little opinion of. Please be patient with me as I work through this phase). Looking at mountains passing by. The driver says that there's "trapped air" creating the illusion of smog that's waiting for a storm to blow it away. Called it "inversion" or "immersion." Ground clouds, I guess, so "inversion" would make more sense.

It's a quite ride, aside from one guy trying to weasel out of paying the ten bucks he owes for the trip. I'm now told to look for deer and elk and moose. I would like to see a moose.

Saw a bumper sticker on a camper saying NO WAR. My first instinct is to say "Sorry, buddy, it's a bit too late." But then again, we didn't really have a war. Wars tend to require opposition with comparable strength. This was flat-out annihilation, leading to lingering guerilla murder sprees. But what do you expect from a Defense Department that came up with the "Shock and Awe" thing as the ultimate battle plan?

How fucking JUVENILE is that?! "We're gonna blow you up REAL GOOD! So good that you'll be SHOCKED into SURRENDERING to OUR GIANT COCKS!" Never have I seen more evidence backing the Carlin theory of governmental dick-waving.

I guess I'm a little behind the times all over the place. But I am taking steps to remedy this.

Just passed "HI UTE RANCH." It said so in huge letters on the front of the house. There's a small chance that some huge letters fell off and it's actually a commune for hairy folk. I should look into that as I patiently wait for chest hair to be popularized again by some smooth-ass 70s Burt Reynolds type. Too many shaved-down blokes ruining it for the rest of us.

So I've been annoyingly ill for the last month or so, but I'm feeling better now. I'm hoping I won't suffer a relapse as I did over Xmas.

Please never let me become a person who refers to snow as "powder."

Ride's about over. Just passed "Cahoots Cards & Gifts." More to come!

DAY TWO: 1/15/2004

Today was training day again, and as it's my third year, I'm confident enough to skip the boring repetitive stuff. YAY FOR CONFIDENCE CONFIDENCE DRY AND SECURE. The fact that I was hung over from the volunteer party made me even more confident. Tonight, I believe the volunteer screenings are "Open Water," a film about scuba divers getting left behind by their team to fend for themselves, which promises to wreak havoc with my fear of drowning, and "Easy," a romantic dealy with the chick what played the dream girl in "Wet Hot American Summer." I'll let you know how they go.

Meanwhile, here's the potential viewing list for the fest this year.

  • IRON JAWED ANGELS: Hilary Swank and Frances O'Connor as the founders of the National American Women's Suffrage Association, getting chicks the right to vote.
  • EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: A strange comedy with Steve Zahn as a zany guy. Steve Zahn is a wonderful human being.
  • THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD: Supposedly a comedy. A legless beer baroness holds a contest to find sad music. Hilarity ensues!
  • THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: Based on young Che Guevara's nine-month adventure through South America. It's about time I figured out what the deal was with this guy.
  • THE CLEARING (WORK IN PROGRESS): Robert Redford and Willem Dafoe movie. A 'work in progress' so no one's supposed to review it yet.
  • THE MACHINIST: Christian Bale hasn't slept in a year. Reality bends for him, as it would for most.
  • TRAUMA: Colin Firth sinks into delusion after a car crash, a dead wife and a coma.
  • NEVER DIE ALONE: DMX in a hip-hop gangster movie at Sundance. Curiosity is piqued... although to be fair, that Ashton Kutcher movie is also here.
  • THE DREAMERS: A young American strikes up a friendship with a French brother and sister. I think they fuck and go to protests.
  • SKY BLUE: Wacky futuristic anime. I'll check that out.
  • EULOGY: A black comedy about family members who can't think of anything nice to say about their dead grandpa. Good casting, although whether Ray Romano merits inclusion remains to be seen.
  • SAVED!: More Macaulay Culkin fun - a satire on Baptist high schools.
  • TIPTOES: Peter Dinklage returns, this time with Gary Oldman also playinga dwarf.
  • ZATOICHI: Gotta love a movie with this line: "The kindly, blind, traveling masseur who, we soon witness, is actually a supreme swordsman."
  • CITIZEN KING: I'll see anything about MLK. Trouble is, there's only one showing. On MLK day. I doubt I'm getting into it.
  • REPO MAN: C'mon, it's Repo Man's 20th Anniversary.
  • SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG: Melvin and Mario Van Peebles are supposed to be here. So I could actually wear my shirt that says "Guns Don't Kill People: Mario Van Peebles!" and have him see it. That'd be fun.
  • CHRYSTAL: Billy Bob Thornton in another ex-con needing redemption movie. I liked Levity, so maybe I'll like this.
  • GARDEN STATE: Natalie Portman as a mental case. Whee!
  • THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT: A documentary that may just uncover an actual vast right wing conspiracy to smear Clinton.
  • DOGVILLE: Nicole Kidman as a repentant woman taken advantage of. I think.
  • NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: A comedy about a weird hacker dude. It MIGHT be trying too hard to be a cult movie.
  • WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE: Peter Krause (SPORTS NIGHT BABY!) Laura Dern, Naomi Watts and Mark Ruffalo in a movie about problem marriages.
  • THE WOODSMAN: This is a maybe. Do I want to watch Kevin Bacon as a recovering pedophile?
  • THE FIGHT: A documentary about Joe Louis fighting a Nazi.
  • HEIR TO AN EXECUTION: A relative of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg tries to dig up facts on their life. The kind of documentary that helps learn a brotha.
  • HOME OF THE BRAVE: A doc on the effects of an FBI-led KKK murder of a white woman campaigning in 1965 for black rights in Selma, Alabama.
  • PERSONS OF INTEREST: A doc about the whole crazy internment-camp style crap happening to Muslims today.
  • THE CONTROL ROOM: Inside Al Jezeera.
  • DIRTY WORK: A documentary on shit jobs.
  • LBS.: A 315 pound man has a heart attack and deals with losing weight.
  • MVP: A black lawyer drawn into a world of crime has to defend a gang leader.
  • SEPTEMBER TAPES: A search for truth in post-9/11/2001 Afghanistan. Remember that place?
  • GOOD-BYE LENIN!: A kid tries to pretend the Berlin Wall never came down to humor his ailing mother.
  • I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD: It's a circuitous tale of vengeance and revelation. There's no synopsis in the thing, but I like the title, and Clive Owen's kinda smoove.
  • LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE: Gotta love a tale about a suicidal guy witnessing someone else's death and getting all weird about it.
  • NINA'S TRAGEDIES: An Israeli film about a guy "Oedipally smitten" with his hot aunt. She looks pretty hot.
  • SEVEN TIMES LUCKY: Kevin Pollak, ladies and gentleman, as a small time fedora-wearing hustler. What's not to like?
  • STANDER: The future Punisher Thomas Jane in a story about a South African cop who brazenly becomes a criminal.
  • THE CORPORATION: A documentary about how the concept of a 'corporation' evolved into the soul-crushing horror it is today.
  • AZUMI: Japanese Shogun-era swordfighting!
  • GRAND THEFT PARSONS: Country star Gram Parsons dies, and his manager goes nutzo trying to honor the man's wish to be buried at the Joshua Tree.
  • HOME OF PHOBIA: John Goodman, ladies and germs.
  • OVERNIGHT: A doc about a screenwriter who gets a break but then is an asshole that doesn't really deserve it.
  • RASPBERRY REICH: A "porno-political-palooza." Good gravy.
So there's that. My internet connection is, as they say, "for shit," so I apologize if the updates are irregular. BUT SUCH IS LIFE.

Off to the screening! WORD UP, MY DAMIES.

DAY 3: 1/16/2004

My connection is assholio, so my updates may not be as timely as I'd like. You, my friends, will have to, as they say, "deal." If you don't know how, consult Mandy Moore.

So. I've seen "Easy" and "Open Water."

"Easy" is actually pretty good. "Humanistic," said the speaker before the film. Oh, and also "delicious." I thought it was a nice, unglamorized story of a cool chick trying to recover from lame relationship patterns. It's pretty believable and realistic, and a little heartwrenching at times. It's a bit meandering and loose, and when it's called upon to be legitimately funny (as in a character who hosts a late-night show on a comedy channel) it lacks a bit, but you tend to like most of the characters anyway, which is amazing considering that the main character fears being perceived as a "poetry groupie," which isn't a good sign. It "resonates." Marguerite Moreau is goddamned adorable.

"Open Water" is a completely different kind of flying. Altogether. (Cast of "Airplane" in unison: "It's a completely different kind of flying!") It's based on true stories about tourists on scuba diving trips accidentally being left behind, and thus set adrift on the open ocean. The first third of the movie is pretty dull, as we get to know characters that aren't interesting. When they get into the water finally, business picks up a bit, and there's a decent amount of suspense and intensity as they freak out about everything, including sharks. It's a bit of a one-trick pony though. "Ooh, there's sharks.... okay. Still sharks. Oh, a little weird fish.... right, back to the sharks." There's a little 'just EAT 'EM already' feeling that comes in at the end, but what makes this film better is hearing the behind the scenes stuff - how they filmed this on a shoestring budget and actually braved raucous sharks themselves to film it. That's the cool thing about Sundance - you get stories about the film that make you appreciate it more than you would if you saw it on its own.

Must be off! More movies!

DAY 4: 1/17/2004

Well, now.

Woke up a tad too late to go see "Last Life in the Universe." I'll have to make that up sometime. NO SLEEP TILL UTAH.

So I saw "Deadline," an anti-death-penalty documentary focusing on former Illinois governor George Ryan commuting all the death row sentences to life in prison on the eve of the end of his term, and how he came to the decision. It basically follows the logic that people like the death penalty in the abstract, but whenever they bother to pay attention to the details, get involved in some of the humanity of it, they tend to soften up on it... and when 13 out of 25 Illinois death row inmates are exonerated, often times by journalism classes at Northwestern University, the rampant corruption in the criminal justice system makes a fella think twice about sending someone to death. George Ryan was in the audience, asking questions, and he came off as a benevolent man, even though he is a Republican. Although I only know his stance on this one issue, so I ain't sayin' nothin'.

Then I checked out "Garden State," the writing/directing debut of "Scrubs" star Zach Braff, a likeable, interesting chap. It's a story about a guy that's been medicated all his life, considered a 'problem child,' that comes home to Jersey for his mom's funeral and starts reconnecting with himself. It's a sorta romantic dramedy, I guess, as he also kicks up a relationship with a pathological-liar-spazz played by Natalie Portman. Normally, I like ol' Nat, but she was a little hard to swallow here. I don't know if it's just because I've never seen her in a role this neurotically spastic, but for her first few scenes she just screamed "Hey! I'm ACTING! I'm playing a PART! Whee!" I warmed up to her though, eventually, and could really enjoy the movie. Peter Sarsgaard being great as usual helped on that score, too. That guy can play any level of small-town hoodlum, at least, and nail that shit.

Woo! Okay, off to try and see "Employee of the Month." Wish me luck. WISH ME LUCK MOTHERFUCKERS!

DAY 5: 1/18/2004

Good lord. Did you know hardcore gay porn can make it into Sundance?

"Rasperry Reich" was the midnight show last night, by a fella named Bruce LaBruce, who apparently has a reputation for making weird porn flicks. This was no exception. I didn't watch the whole thing, because hey, i m nott teh gay, but there's a goofy almost John-Watersy sorta insanity to what I did see. A parody of cults and terrorism, lots of insane slogans and stuff like 'heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses' sorta comedy. Then giant blow-job scenes. Then he gets up after the movie and says 'hey, be sure to watch for the hardcore version of this film on DVD.' Eeeyaaaah.

Today was a broken day. I had plans. Grand plans. "The Principles of Lust," "Napoleon Dynamite," which is getting good buzz... but no. Slept too late, worked too much, and thus, all I got to see was "The Clearing," which is the first Robert Redford film to ever show at this festival. Mildly interesting, that. Same goes for the film. Bobby Bedford is an upper-crusty guy married to Helen Mirren who gets all kidnapped 'n' shit by Willem Dafoe. This prompted a discussion trying to remember any role Dafoe's played where he wasn't mentally broken in some capacity. People have said "Body of Evidence," although Madonna straddling you and pouring hot wax on you hints at a bit of brain damage. "The English Patient," although I honestly don't even remember him in it. I always just think of Ralph Fiennes holding Kristen Scott Thomas and staggering through a desert while music swells. And the girl I saw it with going all squooshy in the coochie (I'm sorry for saying that, but I had to) when the guy took his turban off and was washing his huge hair all shirtless-like. I thought of "Affliction," where he was actually the model of sanity, although he did accidentally plant seeds of crazy into Nick Nolte, who'd already been cultivating his own Nutbag Garden for a while.

Anyway, "The Clearing" is low-key, Helen Mirren is really good. I like how she can straddle the line between emotionally shattered and coldly aloof so easily.

Then I went to work, and had a fucking madhouse dealing with the entourage for "Home of Phobia." Asshole producers going hogwild in getting all their goober friends in, then pretending to invite us to parties to smooth it over. I AIN'T FALLIN' FOR YOUR HOLLYWOOD GAMES! I wasn't so peeved, though, as it was a fun movie, and Sam Huntington from Detroit Rock City was the star and was cool, being roomates with young Bruce Banner from Hulk, trading profanities with cutie-pants Marla Sokoloff and pretending to be gay to get chicks, like that Bloodhound Gang song. John Goodman gets to play a gay guy again, too, and I like that he when he affects a swishy persona, he doesn't seem all that different at all. Good show, Goodman.


DAY 6: 1/19/2004

Managed to get up reasonably early today so I could weasel my way into "The Machinist," featuring Christian Bale as a horrifyingly skinny mental case. We're talking Holocaust skinny, and I heard from previous Q-and-A that he dropped 70 pounds for the role, and it was an all-natural sorta horrifying. Our Future Batman puts on a great performance as a blue-collar factory worker trying to unravel a growing conspiracy around him, although the fact that he hasn't slept in a year throws some doubt onto his sanity. His mind is going blooey, and it's pretty well done. A couple of people I know found it too disturbing to watch, so they left.

The same sort of 'mentally broken man struggles to decipher reality from fantasy' story was done again in the next film on my docket, "Trauma," starring the enjoyable Colin Firth and the chick that sat right in front of me, Mena Suvari. I was called upon to lend my pen for autographs and take a couple of pictures of random folk with her, and once again, my cynical disdain for celebrity culture, as much as I love some of them, surfaced and it filled my heart with shame for us and the way we are... and the way we are...

Anyhoo, "Trauma" was a bit much. I don't know if it was just because it trod some of the same ground as "The Machinist," which I'd just seen, but it was just overwraught and too bombastic, force-feeding the notion of "OOOOH CREEPY MOVIE" at us with ants and spiders and shakey-head people. Yes, shakey-head people are scary, but you can't overuse shakey-head people. Not a good sign that disbelieving chuckles broke out after a loud, LOOK I SCARY moment happened. Not the fault of the actors, though.

So there's that. Came to work while "Seven Times Lucky" was playing, starring Kevin Pollak as a small-time grifter that wears fedoras and smokes a lot while somber piano music meanders in the background. In other words, the kind of role he was born to play. Watched a tiny bit of it, and that convinced me to go see it tomorrow, as I'm narrowing down options.

Then came "SAW," the midnight horror movie starring Cary Elwes, Danny Glover and a horrible puppet thing. This made people leave because 'it was another level of horror." People loved it. I only watched chunks, and I ruined the ending for myself, but I've never been a huge horror guy anyway, so there's that. Horrifying puppet things are purty scary. Eeeyaaaaah.

So I had a chance to go see the Martin Luther King documentary at 2:30 AM, but my body cried out for slumber, and after I was sick for the month of December, I'm wary about not getting enough sleep and weakening the ol' immune system. DREAMLAND BECKONS. Free at last!

DAY 7: 1/20/2004

Today is a 'goddammit, I have a day job day,' so the one flick I get today is "Seven Times Lucky." It's exactly what I thought it'd be, and it ruled. Kevin Pollak in film noir! Declaring his hatred for Marlboro Lights! Lots of double-crossings! Wheee! It's in 'World Cinema' because it's Canadian. Takes place in Manitoba, what the director termed a 'low-rent province.' Or something like that. Whee!

Now I must work, in preparation for my early night tonight. Apparently, tonight's showing of "Loma Lynda" will feature a live band providing the score. That doesn't seem like it could NOT be cool. DOUBLE NEGATIVES!

Apologies again for the sporadic updates - I have to pay beaucoup bucks for internet access, and I ain't happy 'bout it. FIE!

DAY 8: 1/21/2004

WOO! FIVE MOVIE DAY! Well, first things first. Loma Lynda is actually a band AND a movie. The music was kinda cool, but it's one of those rapidly-flashing nonsensical films that I can't watch for very long. It was basically just a concert. Fine by me. I got to go home and do laundry, and then wouldn't ya know it, freakin' "Citizen King" is on PBS at 2AM! It had one screening here that I missed, but I got to watch it in the comfort of my pimp pad. Groovy. Man, that man had an incredible life, although it was most certainly hellish to experience.

So today, I got my shit together. First, took a friend up on a ticket for "Eulogy," an ensemble comedy about a shitty family who comes together for the funeral of their shitty patriarch, one Rip Torn. Ray Romano has sleazy twin boys, Debra Winger is a fanatic that's completely cowed her family into silence, Kelly Preston is a spacey lesbian with Famke Janssen, and Hank Azaria is a struggling actor that had a brief moment of success in a peanut butter commercial, as well as having spawned Zooey Deschanel, the only person grandpa actually liked, so she has to give the eulogy. It's some funny, kinda dark comedy here, and I was surprised to enjoy Ray Romano as much as I did.

Movie Two was "The Dreamers." Now, I don't know shit about Bernardo Bertolucci, so this was my first exposure to him. Maybe I need to go to Europe someday to understand this sensibility about 'free-wheeling sex trysts' that apparently happen all the time. This is a bit more twisted since it involves Michael Pitt, the spooky kid from Murdre By Numbers, getting naked with a French brother and sister in the 60s and loving movies and politics and what-not. It had some good stuff and good music - can't go wrong with Doors songs - but it wasn't particularly involving.

Movie Three: Melvin Van Peebles' "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" gets a screening, what with Mario Van Peebles having a film called "Baadasssss!" here, which is about the making of "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song." Maybe I'll just see how often I can write that. This movie is a cult classic, 'the godfather of independent film,' according to the gal givin' the intro. From what I can gather, since I didn't see "Baadasssss!" (because I wanted to see "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" before I saw "Baadasssss!" but now since there are no more showings of "Baadasssss!" while I'm here, I'll have to wait and see "Baadasssss!" some other time. Baadassss.), the story of HOW this film got made and its historical context is more compelling than the film itself. Melvin Van Peebles is a badass himself, and so is Sweetback, the hero of the film. He's a guy that can't stand by and see a wrong bein' done without rightin' it, and he spends the entire movie on the lam because of it. On the lam or stoically fucking chicks into a frenzy in the missionary position without hardly movin' a lick. Most of the film is just Sweetback running around to the same repeated music, and then some kickass change-ups with the score, including people screaming "RUN, SWEETBACK! RUN, MOTHAFUCKA!" That's great. Unfortunately, the film just sorta feels like one gigantic interlude, a segue that doesn't really go anywhere.

But then I got to trade hats with Mario Van Peebles after the show, so that's fun.

Movie Four: "Sky Blue." An anime film mixed with some photo-realistic CG. It's an absolutely gorgeous film to look at, but the story is just basic, run-of-the-mill sci-fi. I nodded off a couple times. I was a tired mothafucka.

Before Movie Five, the midnight staff at the Egyptian had been invited to the "Home of Phobia" party, which started at 9, so we could get a good half-hour of drinkin' and schwag in before work. But, no, they had us stand in line outside the place until we had to go to work. Thus completes the unpleasant "Home of Phobia" experience. Aside from the film itself, which was okay.

Movie Five: "Grand Theft Parsons." Johnny Knoxville proves he can act by playing Gram Parsons' road manager, who leaps into action to honor a pact once Gram dies. See, he's supposed to be put to rest at the Joshua Tree, so he has to steal the corpse from the airport with the help of an oblivious hippie with a yellow hearse and the voice of Steven Wright. Or it might as well have been his voice. It was an enjoyable film, but then the screenwriter talked about what he had to falsify in this true story to make it work, which includes a fake elder Parsons, Robert Forster, and a fake psychotic money-grubbing girlfriend, Christina Applegate. This seemed a bit disingenuous, but whatever. Ah, well. The sacrifices made for art. Or something.

DAY 9: 1/22/2003

So HERE's where some fun happened. I'll get to it in a jiffy.

So I'm totally exhausted from Five-Movie-Day, but I manage to peel myself out of bed after maybe 2.5 hours of sleep in order to make it to the 8:30 AM showing of "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." As the director said in the intro, "great time of day for a rock movie, huh?" But I made it to an 8:30 show. I think it's the first and only time I've pulled that off in the three years I've been here.

So I'm a Metallica fan sorta by osmosis. My older brother and my current roommate have been big on them for a long time now, and once I saw the video for "One," I knew why they dug on them so much. A song about a guy torn asunder physically by war and only wishes to die. That's not the kind of thing you'll find in Richard Marx's oeuvre. (I JUST USED THE WORD OEUVRE! I AM INTELLIGENT!) Then, of course, came the black album - considered by many to be the "Okay, we'd like some money now" album, which was soon followed by "Hey, we liked getting money the last time" album and "Re-we-liked-getting-money-the-last-time" album. I own two of those three albums. I also own "Ride the Lightning" and "...And Justice For All." C'mon. How can you pass up an album with a song called "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" like that? It ain't doable.

This documentary was initially going to be a little fluffish piece about the making of "St. Anger," an album I haven't heard in its entirety, but seems to be the "Yes, Money Has Been Nice, But Maybe Some of That Stuff We Used To Do is Still Cool, Too," album. However, with the departure of Jason Newsted from the band due to genuine creative differences - i.e. "Hey, I have some other dudes I'd like to play with too." "Um, NOTHING MUST IMPEDE THE GLORY THAT IS METALLICA!" "Um, but..." "HETFIELD HAS SPOKEN!" "I'm outta here." - and Hetfield's rehab stint, this film eventually bloomed into something more, becoming "Metallica In Therapy: Creeping-Touching-Feeling Death." Sort of.

The tidbit for Metallica freaks that'll make this extra sought-after is that, while James is in rehab, there's a small moment where Lars gets to have a therapy session with Dave Mustaine, formerly of Metallica and current Master and Commander: The Megadeth of the World. They get to deal with their unresolved guilt issues. James Hetfield deals with abandonment issues. I can see this movie turning off a lot of ignorant metalheads that don't want to see their harbingers of doom spouting off psychobabble and getting in touch with their feelings, but I think it's cool to watch. They're in their 30s at least, if not 40s, and they have kids 'n' shit. Guess you can't hang out in torn jeans, shitty t-shirts and rock out all day for your entire life. Well, they can, actually, because they're filthy rich, but there's stuff to do. It's also interesting to learn that the traditional M.O. was that James and Lars bang everything out and would command Kirk Hammett and Newsted on what to play, and that's a big reason Newsted left. Kirk was pretty much fine with it, though. "Whatever, dude." Not that he doesn't relish his ability to contribute during "St. Anger," and he gets a dig in on ol' James in that respect.

It's really weird and interesting to see James so "out of character" and legitimately human. Lars Ulrich is just how I've always perceived him - this chatterboxed, contrary little prick a lot of times, but he's often RIGHT, so you can't just ignore him or dismiss him. Seeing his goofy dad is pretty amusing. Kirk initially seems like a wishy-washy doofus, but he chalks it up to just not having the ego the other two have, and that makes some sense. He likes being in the band, but he's not gonna get all pissy if things don't go his way. He realizes he's got a pretty bitchin' life and he's not gonna monkey with it too much.

Anyway, I could go on with that for a while, which I'll do later in a review. As I was rockin' out to the movie, toward the end where they go on tour and play San Quentin and such, the director, who was sitting behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and just handed me a couple of Metallica guitar picks, which I plan to send to the brother that inspired me to even care about Metallica in the first place. Rock.

So there's that. After this, I realized the line for "Napoleon Dynamite" was way too long for me to conceivably get in, so I staggered home and crashed for a few hours, getting up in time to go see the anticipated "Tiptoes" flick - Gary Oldman and Peter Dinklage and Patricia Arquette and McConaughey and the as yet unimpressive Kate Beckinsale. I'm sure she's done something artistic and brilliant that I've not seen, but she ain't much to me so far, other than a hottie, made even more so by throwing red streaks into her dark hair for this movie.

There was a sense of foreboding when the usually-glowing introduction from the Sundance programmers this time was basically "Independent movies are hard to make, and there are many obstacles, from money problems to creative differences. The latter happened to this movie, and the results are on the screen." That was it. The movie was a mess. Poorly done, haphazard, nonsensical and painful. Dramatic points were met with disbelieving laughter, and the ending was a total groaner, at least for me.

Then, the fun began. They introduced the director, Matthew Bright, for some Q&A, and he went off. He said he hasn't watched the movie and he can't, because he put so much of himself into it only to be kicked off the project in the editing process because "nobody wanted to see a freak in bed with a normal woman." This was the apparent rationale of the financiers, whom he wished dead and described as "a miserable bitch, and her husband looks like an asshole with teeth," as there was apparently a Gary Oldman-as-dwarf/Kate Beckinsale sex scene to cap it off. This was very enlightening, and perhaps the film could have been better, although he also said he wrote the script when he was 18 and was now 50. He also said they drew largely from his cut of the film but changed every take just to be contrary. This lends me to thinking the film would still suck even if he didn't get kicked off. But there was a hot slutty little person in it. Interesting.

After this, I went to work my shift, and got all excited because it was a 3-D horror movie called "The Park" and I got to help hand out 3-D freakin' glasses! Imagine my disappointment when the movie turned out to be crap, and the 3-D thing didn't even seem to work. Feh. After the first 3-D moment that was like "Uh... what?" I bailed and went to go eat M'n'Ms. FIE.

DAY 10: 1/23/2004

Another day where The Day Job sucked me in, and I missed the cool crap I was gonna see in the morning, like "Control Room," the Al-Jazeera documentary, "November," the Courteney Cox "head-trip" movie, or "The Fight," about Joe Louis punching a Nazi. So it's mid-afternoon, and I'm at a loss for wha to try to see. "Dogville's" already started. So the first attempt is to go see "The Principles of Lust," which is either a complex study of human nature, instinct and the need to balance a relationship with desires, or it's a handy place to get a nudity fix to take the edge off of how annoyed I am that I missed everything in the morning. It so happens that "Super Size Me" the wildly popular documentary about some guy eating McDonald's for a month and apparently gaining 20 pounds is also playing there, and even an hour and a half before it starts, they're already telling us "THERE IS NO WAY YOU WILL GET IN TO SEE THAT." The wait line for "Lust" didn't seem that promising, either, so I decided to cop out and go for the easy score, and went to the Big-Ass Eccles Theater to go see "Love in Thoughts," the story about young intellectualish college kids in pre-war Germany and their twisted relationships, based on a true story.

It's a sordid little tale about a brother and a sister in love with the same ass clown boy, while the low-key, stewing poet boy who longs for the sister, to the exclusion of the lonely girl that throws herself at him, pines in secret, only to be drawn into a downward depression spiral that leads to murder and mayhem. I can't say I was profoundly effected, for I was not. The sister had something enchanting going on about her, though. I could really see why Poet Boy would be drawn to her, although someone should've told him that creepy stares do not a woman enrapture. Most of the time.

So that was my movie for the day, until I got to the Egyptian that night to czech out our midnight show, a slam-bang comic-book martial-arts zinger out of Japan called "Azumi." Wheeee! Hot damn! If you wanna see a young Asian woman in a miniskirt kick more ass than any other young Asian woman in a miniskirt has in a little while, this is your movie. This flick was a lot of fun, especially with an honest-to-goodness supervillain floating around in it, too, complete with an elaborate white robe and a nearly superhuman fighting ability. HIS NEW FIGHTING TECHNIQUE IS UNSTOPPABLE.

Before I continue talking about how much of a blast "Azumi" was, I need to qualify it by saying that a bloke of Japanese descent that I saw the movie with says the subtitling saves the movie, because if you know Japanese, you then see how horribly written and acted the film is. Having to read subtitles distracts one from this, and all you get to really pay attention to are the bitchin' fight scenes, of which there are plenty. A master is teaching a handful of young 'uns how to be master assassins, in order to rid the world of nasty warlords tearing the country apart. Azumi is, of course, the best of the best, and she's the baddest-assed fighter around. There are honest-to-Mergatroid NINJAS flying around in this flick. NINJAS, BABY! There's a morally torn sword master that looks like a monkey! There's a good-guy ninja that looks kinda like Elvis! WOOO! Good fun all around! All of the crew was fighting over who got to get the beautiful movie poster - blood-spattered Azumi in black and white standing in the middle of a field full of dead bodies. Looking cool. Of course, it went to the manager, but hey, s'cool. Azumi! This was the most fun I had there, watching that flick.

DAY 11: 1/24/2004

And thus, it draws to a close, and there's one more day in which the Festival has a chance to show me a film that'll make me cry. Okay, I got a little misty at "Easy," but that's it. It's not an entirely successful festival until something makes me sob. C'MON, YOU MOVIES YOU, PACK AN EMOTIONAL WALLOP!

Once again, I miss out on morning shows, but this was due to sleep needs and bad time management, so no "We Don't Live Here Anymore" for me. No Peter Krause of "Sports Night" fame for me. I want to support these "Sports Night" folks, but I fear they'll just make me go "NO YOU ARE CASEY MCCALL I NEED TO KNOW HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DANA IS PROGRESSING AND WHERE THE FUCK IS DAN RYDELL FOR CHRISSAKES?!"

No "Control Room" again for me, either, because I've got a prior engagement to go check out a friend of mine's short, called "No $uch Luck," about a down-on-his-luck motherfucker what finds the winning lottery ticket and gets hosed by a dirty honky. Not a bad little pic for her first time out, and I'm down with that.

Next stop, "ZATOICHI" motherfucker! All jazzed up for Japanese samurai-ish flicks after "Azumi," I go check out that smooth sucka named Beat Takeshi and his turn as "the blind travelling masseuse who also happens to be a master swordsman." Can't go wrong with a description like that. The only other Beat Takeshi movie (Or Takeshi Kitano, or Beat Kitano, whatever you wanna call him) is "Brother," and he's got a similar sort of vibe going here. He doesn't draw a lot of attention to himself - he sits around, twitching, laughing at other people and mumbling a bit, but he'll kill you in half a second if'n ya fuck with him. Overall, I had more fun at "Azumi," as there are a couple of bits in this one that slow things down to a crawl, but all is forgiven when it ends in a big-ol Japanese tap-dancing hoe-down that makes no sense but is great. Beat Takeshi is a funny guy.

That's all I get to see today, as "deadlines and committments.... what to leave in... what to leave out... against the wind... still runnin' against the wind." Sorry - unscheduled Bob Seger moment, but you get the picture. Hurried laundry while I've got it for free and preparing to leave early tomorrow, yadda yadda, ya know how it is. But we got "Azumi" again tonight, so although there were few tears shed this time out, Sundance did, once again, get my motor runnin', but it never kept me clean. Or something. I'll sign off, now, and apologize once again for the lateness of the updates. I'm in a weird place when it comes to movies these days, so I'm also sorry if I haven't been as verbose as you'd like. I should be back soon, though, so for now, full throttle to the bottle, full full clout, and I'm out.


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