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The festival so far

Rileys

(Director Tony Scott drops his hat and gestures to co-star Kristin Stewart and Melissa Leo of Welcome to the Riley in the press line at the Racquet Club Theatre at the Sundance Film Festival, Park City Utah, January 23, 2010 Live at Sundance/Calvin Knight)

I was a guest on Radio West this morning (Tuesday), discussing my impressions of Sundance. If you missed it, you can catch it again at 7 p.m. on KUER FM90, or you can download the podcast anytime from kuer.org.

I had a lot more material than we had time, so I thought I’d add a few thoughts on how the festival’s gone so far.

Celebrity sightings:

Joseph Gordon Levitt (you may remember him as the kid from the TV show “Third Rock from the Sun”) is doing a couple of projects – the film “Hesher” is getting pretty good reviews. He also did a presentation as part of the festival’s Frontier on Main on his venture called Hit Record, which is a place where people can come together and collaborate on projects and then share the profits. His website is www.hitrecord.org.

As he describes it, “In a nutshell: we create and develop art and media collaboratively here on our site; we use my position in the traditional entertainment industry to turn that creativity into money-making productions; and then we share any profits with the contributing artists.” He seemed genuinely nice and won over a lot of people at the festival this year.

Then there’s “The Runaways,” a retelling of Joan Jett’s early years in an all-girl rock band. For celebrity watchers, it was notable because it starred Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. Some others were more impressed that Joan Jett was in town (she was executive producer of the film).

I’m still bummed about The Roots, but Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt were in town for a Sundance concert celebrating music in film, and it was nice to see them in an intimate venue. (Lyle Lovett wrote music for a movie here.) After that, I headed for the Seattle party to hear the Moondoggies, a tight band featured in $5 Cover, the project I’m writing about for the Seattle Times.

And Jimmy Smits is apparently super nice.

As for the overall vibe: It’s John Cooper’s first year as director of the festival. He’s done some new and different things – disagreeing on if it’s good. For one, he re-categorized some movies. There’s the “Next” section, focusing on low-budget films. Some people thought this would backfire and become a sort of ghetto, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Some of the most talked-about movies are in that section.

There’s a visual theme with every festival. This year, it’s kind of got an off-kilter, rough-edged, edgy, grungy feeling. I think that theme is ugly and the whole “Rebel!” thing is a little cheesy, but that’s just my opinion. Obviously, the movies are the most important thing.

A couple movies have been bought by distributors, including “Buried,” which stars Ryan Reynolds as a guy who gets buried alive and has to figure out how to escape. Obviously not a good movie for anyone with claustrophobia.

January 26, 2010   No Comments