I always sink into a vague form of depression and/or resignation when I read the Dramatic Competition rundown for a forthcoming Sundance Film Festival, in this instance the 33rd annual which will run from 1.19 to 1.29. Then I’ll read the rundown again and start hearing more stuff as the days and weeks progress, and eventually I won’t feel quite as badly. I know that the way these films are usually described by Sundance staffers, who always default to strict p.c. terminology, are enough to make you fall asleep or slap your forehead. Or both.
As always I’ll mostly be catching the Premiere program at the Eccles and only occasionally darting over to the Park City Library for the Dramatic stuff. But maybe not. Information seeps through. Consciousness evolves. It all shakes out.
I know that during every Sundance I’ll have to sit through a Melanie Lynskey film, and I accept that. I know I’ll have to sit through a film about a young guy trying “to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity” (which always means being gay). I mainly look at the casts in the Dramatic Competition — if a film costars several cool, name-brand actors, I’m usually interested in seeing it. If it doesn’t, meh. Eventually I get used to the idea of seeing all these dicey-sounding films, and when push comes to shove I’ll show up for a few.
Typical example: Alexandre Moors and David Lowery‘s The Yellow Birds, about a couple of guys fighting in the Gulf War and one of them getting wasted, and the surviving guy going back home and “struggling to balance his promise of silence with the truth and a mourning mother’s search for peace.” Oh, please, no…the surviving guy has taken a vow of silence? Oh, fuck me. Costarring Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette and Jennifer Aniston.
The three most interesting-sounding docs are (a) Brian Knappenberger‘s Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press — the title tells you everything; (b) Marina Zenovich‘s Water & Power: A California Heist; and (c) Pete Nicks‘ The Force, about the notoriously corrupt, scandal-ridden Oakland police department.