I have to leave for Santa Barbara now (2:25 pm). I should have left an hour ago. The idea is to get there by 4:30 pm or so, 5 pm at the latest. I want to catch a 6:10 pm q & a between Roma‘s Alfonso Cuaron and Yalitza Aparicio at the Lobero, which will follow a 4 pm screening. There’s also a cocktail reception for Cold War‘s Pawel Pawlikowski (Opal, 1325 State Street). And then the Big Director’s panel begins at the Arlington theatre at 8 pm.
Anya’s six gray kittens have been bought en masse by a nice woman from Canyon Country — two for herself and her kids, two for her mom, two for her sister. Or something like that. They’re only four and half weeks old — born on 12.27.18. You’re supposed to keep them with their mom until they’re eight weeks old or they won’t be properly weaned; some say they should stay with mom for three months. It’s interesting how you can tell which one is the bravest, the smartest, the most guarded and defensive, etc. Even at four weeks.
For as long as I can recall there’s always been a hard and fast rule about Sundance films not being allowed to play at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. I was therefore surprised to discover that A.J. Eaton and Cameron Crowe‘s David Crosby: Remember My Name, one of the finest films I saw at Sundance ’19, will have two SBIFF screenings at the Lobero theatre — Sunday, 2.3 at 2pm, and Tuesday, 2.5 at 7 pm. My understanding is that Crosby, who lives in the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, will be in town on Sunday, which leads one to presume he’ll take a bow after the Sunday screening. Here’s my 1.27.19 Sundance review.
When I was but a lad my father and I didn’t like the same music. He was a big Ella Fitzgerald fan, but he had no room in his head for Aretha Franklin. C’mon! There was, of course, no point in trying to persuade him to see past his favorites and prejudices.
One of the first vocal debates we had was over the Beatles “I’m A Loser.” My dad was basically appalled that any songwriter would write a song with that title. What kind of wimp candy-ass would admit something like that, much less sing it as a kind of anthem? I replied that it wasn’t about being a loser in life, but in love. Lennon and McCartney obviously had no reason to worry about people regarding them as losers, I explained. Not with their phenomenal success. Plus it wasn’t the lyrical content as much as how it sounded. The bass line, the harmonies, the harmonica riff, etc. All of these arguments went right over my dad’s head.
I know one thing about Sundance ’19, and what it’s helped to bring about. The millions who are still glomming on to the myth of Michael Jackson — that half-magical, commercially formidable, white-sock superstar aura that has persisted and expanded since his death on 6.25.09 — the millions who are still feeding off Jackson are about to experience a profound kick in the head from Leaving Neverland, which will eventually air on HBO.
Sundance ’19 deserves a 21-gun salute and a hearty cheer for helping to launch this important four-hour film.
How many of Hollywood Elsewhere’s top eight Sundance ’19 films — Luce, Leaving Neverland, Official Secrets, Cold Case Hammerskjold, David Crosby: Remember My Name, Memory: The Origins of Alien and Steven Soderbergh‘s High Flying Bird — will connect with Joe and Jane Popcorn? Not to mention the buzzy titles that I wanted to see but missed (The Nightingale, The Hole in the Ground, Blinded By The Light)? Perhaps only two or three, perhaps all. Who knows?
I know that the above eight are rooted, riveting and fraught with discovery, and that they put me right in the zone. Thank you, Sundance ’19, for including these stand-outs.
I also know that it feels great to be back in ground-level, warm-aired Los Angeles and not (here comes the other side of the Park City experience) in that congenial p.c. Stalinist boot camp aura in the Wasatch Mountains.
HE’s Sundance experience was genuinely exciting and even throttling from time to time, but for the most part the elite, beaver-hat-wearing commissars reiterated their commitment to their “socialist summer camp in the snow” aesthetic, and what has basically become an annual experiment in mass p.c. hypnosis and utopian wish-fulfillment.
For Sundance ’19 was first and foremost about itself — about enforcing a vision of how the world needs to be, and by fulfilling its own self-created image and making real (at least temporarily) its own Neverland vibes.
We’re talking diversity, representation, a higher percentage of films directed by women and people of color (which is obviously welcome and exciting), aggressive frowning at the idea of older white-male critics (thank you, Keri Putnam, for making my life interesting!) and the idea of accumulated taste (which inevitably results “from a thousand distastes,” as Francois Truffaut once said), and cheering the idea of “under-represented” critics.