Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sundance Journal: Friday, Jan. 16

Almost all of my Friday Sundance experience is a bit of a haze. If it weren't for some memorable films, the whole day would be a blur.

After I discovered that I planned my day based on an erroneous press schedule printout that placed every film one time slot earlier, I had to wing it. Sleep-deprived from a long night of prep, I waited in vain for a shuttle. It didn't show, so I walked, then ran, to my first screening, only to find out that there was in fact no screening. It wasn't that something else was screening. No screening existed at the theater.

Thinking fast, I scrambled into the only screening that I could possibly make on time, the Animation Spotlight (which I'd planned to see later on). This year's collection of animated shorts was stronger than last year's, and featured new comers as well as veterans of indie animation. Pes offered an inspired, colorful bit of pixilation called "Western Spaghetti," which depicts the preparation of an everyday meal with a twist: the food is made entirely from inedible household materials. A hand runs a spool of yarn across a cheese grater, and little pieces come out. Bill Plympton's "Hot Dog" found his lovable dog character trying to earn a job with the fire department.

And Don Hertzfeldt debuted "I'm So Proud of You," the second chapter in what Hertzfeldt now describes as a three-part series. It contains much of the same experimentation with multiple passes and different animated forms as the first chapter, "Everything Will Be OK," which also played at Sundance. It's been a while since I've seen "Everything Will Be OK," but I'm interested to see how well the films build on one another.

I then saw Lynn Shelton's "Humpday," a very funny comedy starring Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard. An improvised, handheld endeavor in the same vein as the films Duplass has made with his brother, it is observant, but more important, fucking hilarious. I'll have more on it later.

I then caught Spike Lee's musical theater concert film, "Passing Strange," and the atmospheric noir throwback "The Missing Person" (Read the City Weekly blog).

I ended the night with Carlos Cuarón's "Rudo y Cursi," which I again covered for the City Weekly blog.

And I wrote more on opening night film "Mary and Max".

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