Dear Wide World,
Now that the weekend’s screenings and events are behind us, Park City’s a much quieter town. Personally, that’s just fine with me. As terrific as all excitement’s been, it’s nice to know I’ll be able to make it up Main Street to a screening without having to fight my way past a ton of people. It’s been warmer over the past few days, but, as I write this, it’s 18 degrees (F). That’s eighteen degrees, people. This is the kind of temperature at which your memories of the fourth grade start feeling the cold.
Now for today’s screening report:
2 Days In New York: Over the course of her career, Julie Delpy’s had the chance to work with some of the finest filmmakers in the world (including my all-time favorite, Krzysztof Kieślowski), but in the past few years, she’s begun writing and directing her own films. Her latest, 2 Days In New York, is a sequel to her debut film, 2 Days In Paris, and I’m happy to report that it’s a delight. Delpy reprises her role as the neurotic Marion, only she’s broken up with Jack (Adam Goldman) to find hopeful domestic bliss with Mingus (Chris Rock). It’s an eclectic living arrangement, with her young son and his daughter living there part-time too, and it’s pushed to the limit when Marion’s father, sister, and sister’s boyfriend arrive for a visit from Paris. This is an archetypal fish-out-of-water story, but the material really excels because of the wonderfully funny script in combination with some inspired casting. Where 2 Days in Paris went off the rails a bit in focusing too closely on Marion’s neuroses, this one succeeds by centering more on the comedic possibilities in the scenario. This was my “it” movie of Sundance this year, and it quickly became one of my favorites of the Fest.
Ben Franklin Blowing Bubbles at a Sword: If I told you that one of the more interesting films of Slamdance would be a documentary about “mental athletes,” your skepticism would be understandable. Director Jonathan Napolitano’s look at the world of the 2011 USA Memory Championship is fascinating, and he’s very smart to narrow his focus to three very different men competing for the prize. See, these guys believe that having a bad memory isn’t something that needs to be permanent; it can be improved through training and using proper techniques. Watching them train and eventually compete in the competition is fascinating stuff.
Getting Up: Tony “Tempt” Quan is a legend in the world of street graffiti. Lou Gehrig’s disease robbed him of his mobility, forcing him to spend the past several years hooked up to a respirator, receiving 24-hour care. After hearing about his case, Mick Ebeling, a complete stranger, decided to try and help. He begins by making a simple donation but quickly becomes actively involved in acquiring a computer that Tempt can use to communicate. Soon, Ebeling is working with a team of programmers and engineers to develop a system that Tempt can use to “paint” with his eyes. While the compassionate aim of Getting Up is admirable, the film loses a lot of its early momentum and seems a little long—even at only 53 minutes. It’s not bad, but it misses out on a chance to do more.
With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story: I couldn’t make it to the Coffee with Stan Lee event this morning, but I’d be hog-tied before I let myself miss this one. With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story is a peppy, endearing look at one of the most successful writers of our time. One of the film’s biggest upsides is the delightfully sweet look at Stan and Joan Lee’s 60-year marriage. What I didn’t realize was that he was about to quit the comic book business before Joan suggested he take a comic series in the direction he’d always wanted to. What resulted was The Fantastic Four. Thanks, Joan! We owe you one. I loved the humility that Stan has. He’s an icon but is remarkably modest and respectful of the contributions of others.
At the Kodak party tonight, I was able to secure a 9 a.m. Sundance screening, so I’d better hit the hay. Only two more days left, and then I’m California-bound.