For the sin of creative absorption — getting caught up in writing a piece as I sat in the Yarrow Hotel and therefore not rushing over to the Holiday Cinemas cattle tent early enough — I can’t see the 2:30 pm press & industry screening of Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale…no room at the inn. And the only chance I have to see it again is late Thursday afternoon, which conflicts with Escape From Tomorrow. Terrific — I’ll flip a coin. The Weinstein Co. has bought distrib rights for $2.5 million.
In my book Michael Winner, the British director who has died at age 77, was in a good groove as an effective, second-rate action-thriller director from 1972 to ’74, during which time he directed The Mechanic (’72), Scorpio (’73), The Stone Killer (’73) and his semi-mastepiece, Death Wish (’74). There was also the entirely respectable The Nightcomers (’72) with Marlon Brando as Quint.
Nobody and I mean nobody is better than yours truly at missing out on small Sundance buzz films. Just as they’re just starting to break out and be talked about, I mean. I am a stone friggin’ genius at not being in the midst of the early chatter, much less the forefront. Take Randy Moore‘s Escape From Tomorrow, which I missed last Friday evening because I decided to see Don Jon’s Addiction instead and which I missed late Saturday night because I don’t see movies at 11:30 pm, period.
From Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow.
But I’ll catch it it at the Library on Thursday at 5:30 pm…okay? Even if that’s not okay it’ll have to do.
I have a queer little equation that I carry around while covering this festival. The more excited that brilliant, impassioned but sometimes off-on-their-own-orbit critics get about a quirky Sundance film, the less likely Joe Popcorn is going to even hear about it much less see it, if and when it gets commercially released.
And Escape From Tomorrow’s commercial prospects are apparently in doubt, says L.A. Times guy Steven Zeitchick, because it casts a dark, mournful shadow on the Disney Theme Park experience. But maybe (who knows?) it’ll become “one of those films” that everyone wants/needs to see. Or maybe it’ll play a week at the Nuart.
I honestly think it’s different when guys like myself go apeshit over a film. Then it has a chance because I listen to my anti-intellectual instincts, I don’t get all caught up in my own swizzle-stick obsessions, and because my feet are planted squarely on the pavement.
Here’s a key passage from Zeitchik’s 1.19 piece:
“A surrealist, genre-defying black-and-white film,” Escape From Tomorrow “is one of the strangest and most provocative movies this reporter has seen in eight years attending the Sundance Film Festival. And it may well never be viewed by a commercial audience.”
And this: “To me this is the future,” Moore says. “Cameras in your hand. Cameras in your glasses. Anyone can be shooting at any time. And I think it will explode.”
“Moore has never attempted to speak to anyone from Disney, nor has anyone ever contacted him. Still, there is no way the company could be happy with the result, in part because of what many courts might deem rampant trademark infringement but also because of the nature of the thing, a juxtaposition of Disney’s family-friendly corporate imagery with some pretty grotesque behavior.
“Whether a distributor, even a bold one, takes a flier on this is the big question. The media interest would be high. The legal bills would be even higher.
“The film’s rights are being represented by Cinetic Media, which has sold high-profile Sundance titles such as Precious and Napoleon Dynamite as well enigmatic fare such as 2010 Banksy movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. The company’s principal, John Sloss, declined comment for this story, but the feeling in distribution circles is that the movie will have a legal Everest to climb. While trying to censor an independent film tends to blow up in a conglomerate’s face, it would be hard to imagine how Disney would ever allow this film to see the light of day.”
Several topics were kicked around during this morning’s breakfast chat with Inequality For All star Robert Reich and director Jacob Kornbluth. But one that nagged me a bit more than others was “why hasn’t Participant Media made a bid on this film?” Inequality is precisely the kind of brilliant, highly engaging, knowledge-expanding doc about a vital political topic that Participant has specialized in distributing for years. Kornbluth said nothing was shaking, but maybe he was observing discretion.
(l.) Inequality For All director Jacob Kornbluth, (r.) star, author, Berkeley professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich at Yarrow Hotel restaurant — Friday, 1.20, 8:50 am.
It’s 7:11 am, been up since 6 am. I have an 8:15 am interview with Inequality For All‘s star-auteur Robert Reich — the renowned author, Berkeley professor and former Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton — along with the doc’s director, Jacob Kornbluth, at the Yarrow.
I have four films on the slate today: a p & i screening of Liz Garcia‘s The Lifeguard at 9:30 am, Lake Bell‘s In A World at 11:30 am or, if that doesn’t work out, Kyle Patrick Alvarez‘s C.O.G. at noon. Maybe. And then definitely Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale, the buzz-of-the-moment, at 2:30 pm followed by a 7 pm screening of Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight, which received a gale of ecstatic reviews after last night’s Eccles screening.
I may try to slip into the first hour of a 5:15 pm screening of Alex Gibney‘s We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks. If it would begin at 4:30 pm I’d be in good shape.
In so doing I will be blowing off today’s screenings of Narco Cultura (sorry, Cynthia Swartz), The Way, Way Back, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Afternoon Delight, Gideon’s Army, etc.
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