Good or near-great Sundance films are spiritual energy drinks, mood elevators, ecstasy tabs. But when they fail to appear this festival feels like factory work. It’s not exactly a drag to hump around this town in the cold and not attend parties (what’s the point? so I can trade pithy quips with Jeff Sneider?) and endure one less-than-satisfying film after another, but it does become something to get through rather than delight in, and you start saying to yourself, “Okay, five more days and a wake-up”…which is what I’m facing right now.
I’m going to play it tight and safe today with a four-film Eccles marathon — David Lowery‘s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints at 12:15 pm, Zat Bamanglij‘s The East at 3:30 pm, Park Chan-Wook‘s Stoker at 6:30 pm and then Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight at 9:45 pm, which will break sometime between 11:30 pm and midnight. Am I really going to bunker down inside a single Park City structure for more than twelve hours? Apparently.
I’ve been here since Tuesday night, but the films didn’t start until Thursday night. I’ve said two or three times since that the best movie I’ve experienced so far — Morgan Neville‘s Twenty Feet From Stardom — happened that night. And then came the bracing stimulation of Jacob Kornbluth‘s Inequality For All, a profile of Robert Reich that offers a whip-smart examination of the inequality of income and the growing corruption that has been afflicting the U.S. economy for the last 30-plus years. But things have been otherwise wanting. It’s interesting to trudge around and sample films, but you need to occasionally encounter an 8.5 or a 9, and most of what I’ve been seeing are in the 6.5 to 7.5 range or worse.
I can’t remember if there’s a decent wifi signal at the Eccles, but let’s assume there isn’t. Bring your own connectivity to this festival or prepare to suffer. Without a decent signal I’m going to be limited to tweeting all day, and maybe a little copying-and-pasting on the side.