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.
The majority of journalists and civilians I spoke to were delighted to be part of this environment, and if they weren’t they were keeping their mouths shut. They were happy to be away from their regular humdrum lives, to be amongst themselves and strolling around with their press passes and exchanging chatter in theatre lobbies, eager to be vital ingredients in this highly instructive realm, and by vaguely helping to advance an aggressively inclusive, politically correct-to-a-fault film festival and by extension its humanist, progressive, emotionally supportive lefty-concentration-camp 21st Century values.
I miss the old snide elitist Sundance vibe, that hippest-crowd-in-the-world clubhouse feeling that I remember oh so well from the ’90s and the aughts and…well, basically the Sundance that we all knew and loved up until the p.c. commissar vibes started to seep in around ’15 or thereabouts. But you can’t live in the past, and if you can’t embrace the here and now you’re in some kind of trouble.
If nothing else Hollywood Elsewhere is that thing, that here and now-ness, that throbbing Nikola Tesla current…let the word go forth from this time and place that Hollywood Elsewhere is an alive and thriving place to be, and full of fresh apples, hot coffee and piping baked beans. On to Santa Barbara!