Dear Wide World,
This is it.
Here we go…
Price Check: Perennial Sundance favorite Parker Posey plays Susan, a newly hired, incredibly manic boss who turns her department upside down and inside out, wreaking particular havoc on the life of nice guy/worker-bee Pete Cozy (Eric Mabius). She’s one of those charismatic managers who leaves no prisoners in her wake, while simultaneously making those around her desperate for her approval. For the most part, Price Check is fairly well-written with some decent performances but falls short at the end. Essentially, there’s a bit of a narrative bomb that gets dropped on the audience, but, instead of showing the consequences and clean-up, writer/director Michael Walker cuts ahead to an ending that’s clichéd and much more cynical than this largely good-hearted film deserves. Price Check is a mostly fun flick, but ultimately shrinks back just when it should be making a statement.
I also caught four short films, almost all of which I quite liked. Highlights: Landon Zakheim’s Another Bullet Dodged and Nat Livingstone Johnson and Gregory Mitnick’s The Kook. The former is the story of a couple with a fascinating dynamic. No spoilers here, but let’s just say she’s angry with him for being late picking her up for a serious medical appointment; he’s blasé about the whole thing; and both don’t seem to have any idea what their relationship is. It’s nicely shot, well acted and emotionally effective. As for the latter, The Kook might just be a little slice of genius. It’s funny, suspenseful, and has a real emotional center in the form of lead actress T. Sahara Meer. She’s the sweetest member of a good-natured cult that believes they’re going to be leaving their bodies behind for intergalactic travel. When she discovers the truth behind the scam, it’s up to her to save herself and her friends. Wonderful stuff.
It’s hard to believe, but tonight’s the last night of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. For me, this whole experience has been a dream come true. I’ve wanted to attend for years, and, after a near miss in 2011, it’s finally happened. All told, with features and shorts, I saw 36 films in 7 days of screenings. Not too bad for a first-timer, eh?
Thanks to Bryce and Eric for the great opportunity to represent Movie Smackdown in Park City, the staff and volunteers of both Sundance and Slamdance for their tireless dedication, the veteran team of the Newport Beach Film Festival for showing this first-timer the ropes, and a big thanks to you for reading.
In a world dominated by box office returns and slick marketing campaigns, it’s all too easy to despair over the lack of independent, foreign, and avant-garde films in the popular consciousness. It’s something I’ve lamented more times than I can count, but you know something? For eight days, a small, snowy town in Utah has been the center of the cinematic world. The next time I feel sad that too many films made by true artists are relegated to the back burner, I’ll remember a packed 1,200-seat theater at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning at Sundance, and Slamdance audience members who preferred to sit on the risers or lie on the floor in front of the screen rather than miss a movie.
Those are the people that make this festival possible, and it’s been an honor to have been among them.
Over and out,