A New York friend wrote to ask what Sundance 2012 films have really been worth seeing, “for real.” I replied as follows:

Heidi Anderson at last night’s after-party for The Raid, held at Gray Goose space on Main Street.

My big “miss” so far is Beasts of the Southern Wild, which everyone tells me is masterful. Fox Searchlight has acquired it. Seeing it Wednesday or Thursday.

Josh Radnor‘s Liberal Arts is a step up in somewhat (but not quite) the same way Annie Hall was a step up for Woody Allen. Almost. Mature, at times melancholy, dialogue and character-driven, not overtly “comedic” (and thank God for that). I really didn’t care for Radnor’s happythankyoumoreplease, so I went expecting not too much and was pleasantly surprised. A huge hit with the Eccles audience I saw it with.

I was entirely caught up in and enjoyed the hell out of Nicholas Jarecki‘s Arbitrage, which to me is a solid Sidney Lumet New York potboiler. Familiar, yes, and not “great” but tough and real and very nicely done. Richard Gere‘s best performance in a long time. Tim Roth is amusing as a Colombo-type detective

I absolutely admired and was throughly engrossed by Amy Berg and Peter Jackson‘s West of Memphis.

Spike Lee‘s Red Hook Summer, which I saw last night, is a real “Spike Lee film”…and it’s good to have him back. Colorful, vibrant, spiritual, values-minded, community-based with an impassioned God-current score by Bruce Hornsby. Spike plays the same “Mookie” pizza guy he was in Do The Right Thing.

The Queen of Versailles, a doc about absurd financial waste and clueless conspicuous consumption, was/is nicely done and entirely absorbing (if appalling).

To my partial surprise and/or partial embarrasment, I choked up a couple of times as I watched Ethel, the HBO-Rory Kennedy doc.

The two hipster movies that I was supposed/expected to like if (in the view of Glenn Kenny) I want to hold on my to edge credentials, Simon Killer (endorsed by Karina Longworth!) and Ry Russo-Young‘s Nobody Walks, did not cut it all in my book. In fact, knowing that these two are dweeb-hipster faves makes me feel almost elated that I’m not a fan of either.

The other stinkers are too numerous to list. I’m not a fan of The Raid but all the cool kidz (Rocchi, McWeeny, etc.) are telling me I’m blind to feel this way. I’ve been told to avoid Stephen FrearsLay The Favorite. I could go on and on and on.

I don’t follow (i.e., give that much of a shit about) acquisition stories but here’s a Movieline summary from yesterday.

I’m blowing off this morning’s 9 am screening of the Paul Simon doc, Under African Skies in favor of a press screening tomorrow at 3 pm.

Today is an Eccles marathon — The Surrogate at 12:30, LUV at 3:30, 2 Days in New York at 6:30 pm and Bachelorette at 10 pm.

I’ve only been seeing films here for 3 and 1/2 days so far. Today is day #4 — four and 1/2 more to go including today. I leave on Friday, 1.27, in the late afternoon.