Sundance 2007 | 01.19, 4:50 p.m.

I think I need more life experience to make an educated determination about if The Savages is a good film or not. Maybe once my parents get old enough that I can dump them off in a nursing home, I'll like it better.

 

The very first day notwithstanding, the first few days of Sundance are always the busiest, because you're cramming in all of the press screenings you can and trying to see all of the potentially good stuff first so that other people don't ruin it for you. Toward the end of the festival, they just start repeating press screenings of films that you've seen before, and it's really hard for press to get into public screenings, so the number of films seen per day starts to drop off. Yesterday I saw the only film they screened, the opening night film, Chicago 10, and today I will see at least three, and hopefully four movies (one of the four is a public screening, so I might get bonered out of it), which is pretty light. However, the next three days in a row, if everything goes as planned, I will be seeing six films a day, which means that while I like to and try to write these diary entries on a daily basis, it is very likely that the next entry won't appear until Tuesday. What's more, if something goes wrong on my six-films-a-day schedule (and something usually does), the library where I crash their free Internet and write these pieces has funny hours Friday through Sunday, so even if an unforeseen break comes, I probably won't be able to write an entry anyway.

Back to Chicago 10—it's a sort-of documentary thing from Brett Morgan, the guy who made The Kid Stays in the Picture, about the trials of Abbie Hoffman, et al., for inciting a riot during the 1968 democratic elections. It features live action footage of talking heads of the era and newsreel footage of the riots, and then actors (such as Nick Nolte and Hank Azaria) doing the voices of animated versions of the trials themselves, which are based on the actual trials' court transcripts. The film is meant to be rousing, and is, to some degree, bur the animation is really awful and the voice acting leaves something to be desired, too (Azaria's Abbie Hoffman sounds a little too much like Moe from The Simpsons, and Roy Scheider's Judge Hoffman (no relation) is way too over the top), which kind of ruins the whole thing. Still, it's worth seeing, and has a great soundtrack of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and a bunch of Rage Against the Machine tracks and songs of that ilk.

This morning there wasn't an early screening that I wanted to see, so I slept in and caught The Savages at 11:30, which stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and, on account of that cast, was one of the more anticipated films of the festival. The Savages was written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, the woman who made The Slums of Beverly Hills a few years back. In it, Linney and Hoffman play brother and sister who are forced to find a home for their father, when no combination of the people involved have really dealt with one another much in the past few decades. I just got out of the screening a few hours ago and went immediately to another film after it was over, so I'm not really sure what the general consensus on the film is yet, but while I liked it, I got the impression that other people will like it a lot more. I know that that sounds like an empty statement, but I often say of films (like the Lord of the Rings trilogy) that I respect them as films, but they just aren't for me, and that's sort of how The Savages is, but in a different way; I think I need more life experience to make an educated determination about if it is a good film or not. Maybe once my parents get old enough that I can dump them off in a nursing home, I'll like it better. We'll see.

After The Savages, I had to scamper off to the Yarrow (the two press screening venues, the Yarrow and the Holiday Village Cinema, are pretty much right next to each other; it's about a five minute walk) to see Bugmaster, which comes from Katsuhiro Otomo, the guy behind the famous anime films Akira, Metropolis, and Steamboy. Bugmaster is live action and stars Japanese favorites (of mine, at least) Joe Odagiri (Princess Raccoon) and Nao Omori (Ichi the Killer and Vibrator). I'm not much a fan of anime (although admittedly I haven't seen every much), if that matters to you one way or the other, and while Bugmaster was often visually very arresting, I did not like the film at all. It left me cold in that way that I don't really even want to talk about it, which is convenient, because I don't really have time to talk about it.

Now I'm going to go back to the Yarrow to catch Crispin Glover's second part in his planned trilogy (which began here two years ago with What is It?), entitled It is Fine. EVERYTHING IS FINE. It is showing opposite the press screening of Rocket Science, which is a bummer, because I really wanted to see that one, too (it's the narrative film debut from Jeffrey Blitz, the guy behind Spellbound). Hopefully, if Rocket Science winds up being good, they'll either re-screen it for the press, or I'll be able to crash a public screening. And speaking of crashing public screenings, tonight I'm going to see if I can get into the 11:30 p.m. screening of The Ten, from John August (Go), for which they have not yet announced a press screening (they always leave the last few days of press screenings TBA at the beginning of the festival, but you can't count on something with no press screening announced actually getting one). I don't know if I should expect to get in, but I have several hours that I can waste in the wait list line, and I've got a good book to read, so I'm going to give it my best shot.

At 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning is the press screening of the film I'm most looking forward to here at Sundance 2007, David Gordon Green's Snow Angels. Also tomorrow is the much talked about Teeth (about a girl with vagina dentata), An American Crime (from Killer Films and starring Catherine Keener), The Good Life (the first of two Zooey Deschanel movies I'll be seeing here), Broken English (with Parker Posey), and then the public screening of the new Gregg Araki, Smiley Face. | Pete Timmermann

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