Sundance 2007 | 01.24, 1:45 p.m.

I don't follow the trades as closely as I probably should when I'm at Sundance and don't really know the ins and outs of buying and selling films at the market here, so I probably should shut up.

 

After finishing that ridiculously long diary entry yesterday, I headed out to the Holiday Village really early to see Chapter 27, the film that stars Jared Leto as Mark David Chapman, the guy who killed Lennon. Although all of the seats did eventually fill, there wasn't quite the crush that I was expecting (it has another press screening on Friday, so maybe that's why). Leto gained a lot of weight for the role (I remember reading somewhere that he would microwave pints of ice cream and drink them several times a day to put on weight fast prior to the film's production), and he is good at playing a fat, sad, creepy guy, but the movie's really slow and doesn't really tell the audience anything that they don't really know about the whole ordeal, be it factual or insights into Chapman's character or whatever. It doesn't even matter if you don't know much about Lennon's assassination; you'll still not see anything you didn't already know in Chapter 27.

I was checking my email just prior to starting writing today's entry, and it looks like, among other things, Paramount Vantage picked up the rights for Son of Rambow for $8 million, which is quite a lot. It's a great film, and I hope it winds up being a wise purchase on their part. Regardless, I'm glad to see that it has a distributor now. And strangely enough, as far as I've heard, Snow Angels hasn't been picked up yet. It seems particularly weird since it has name actors in it and comes from a respected director and is, you know, probably the best film at the festival. Still, I don't follow the trades as closely as I probably should when I'm at Sundance and don't really know the ins and outs of buying and selling films at the market here, so I probably should shut up.

This morning I woke up at my usual time to see the Animation Spotlight, Sundance's program of animated shorts, at 8:30 a.m. at the Yarrow. I figured there would be no problem getting a seat, but I'm in a routine and anal and decided to get there an hour early, anyway. As it turned out, only nine total people showed up for the screening, and the Yarrow 1 has about 250 seats. It was kind of sad. The program was good, though (as have almost all of the pre-film shorts I've seen here this year), the highlight being Don Hertzfeldt's "Everything Will Be OK," which I was lucky enough to have seen already, at the St. Louis International film Festival last November.

I spent so many days backlogged as hell in writing this "daily" journal, that now that I'm on schedule and doing it correctly, something seems wrong only having three films to write about. Anyway, the last film I saw before I came here was the New Zealand comedy Eagle vs. Shark, which Miramax had the rights to pre-festival (and which was developed in the wonderful Sundance Screenwriter's Lab), and I had heard it was good. I had a long internal debate about whether I should see it or Fay Grim, Hal Hartley's pseudo-sequel to Henry Fool, which had its press screening at the same time. I took a chance on Eagle vs. Shark, and it really paid off—it's an absolutely brilliant film, and up in the tier of Snow Angels, Smiley Face, and Son of Rambow as the best films I've seen at this year's festival (on the other hand, I've heard that Fay Grim isn't good, but Hal Hartley is certainly an acquired taste, so just because some people I don't know say that it sucks doesn't mean that I won't like it). It's really just a goofy comedy about an awkward girl named Lily and her awkward relationship with an awkward guy named Jarrad (who looks a lot like the mulleted guy in Ghost World). I get the feeling that it will be compared to Napoleon Dynamite, seeing as how it came from Sundance and is a comedy about unfortunate-looking weirdos, but Eagle vs. Shark is infinitely funnier (and I liked Napoleon Dynamite well enough, at least until the nation's 13-year-olds co-opted it): The comedic rhythm is great, it's totally unpredictable, and it even has a Devendra Banhart song on the soundtrack.

Later today I'm going to see the midnight film The Signal and Adrienne Shelly's Waitress for sure, and maybe something else, too, which I haven't decided on yet. Even if both of those films suck, though, I'm sure I'll look back at today as one of the better days of the festival, thanks to the always-solid program of animated shorts, and the wonderful find Eagle vs. Shark. | Pete Timmermann

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