Sundance 2007 | 01.25, 7:10 p.m.

As it turns out, Waitress was selected for Sundance mere days before Adrienne Shelly died, and it was sold because, well, it's really solid. There's nothing too groundbreaking here (it's about a small-town pie waitress (played by Keri Russell) who has an affair and wants to get away from her abusive husband), but it's well made and thoroughly entertaining and well cast and funny.

 

 

When I was making today's schedule yesterday, I halfheartedly applied for a ticket to the public screening of Interview at the Prospector (the press screening of which, you may recall, I missed in favor of Zoo), not expecting to get one (I've tried to get a total of five tickets through the press office in my three years here, and they have only ever come through with one). I assumed, then, that I would have plenty to time to write this and whatnot after I got out of my 4:30 today, but as it turns out, I got that Interview ticket after all, and suddenly I'm in a hurry. Plus, the Prospector is a pretty long walk away. And my hair's wet.

I had trouble deciding yesterday afternoon if I should see the press screening of Dedication (which stars Billy Crudup, who I usually like) or the press screening of a midnight horror movie called The Signal, which was co-directed by Jacob Gentry, the guy who had Last Goodbye in the New Filmmaker's Forum at SLIFF 2004 or 2005 (I forget which), which is probably the best NFF film I've seen. I decided to go with The Signal; turns out that Harvey Weinstein bought Dedication, anyway, so I'm sure I'll see it soon enough. The Signal wound up being very good, too, so I made the right choice. It's a horror/comedy thing about how, when everyone's phones and TV and other communication devices go out, everyone starts killing one another for lack of anything better to do.

After The Signal let out, I went over to the Holiday Village to catch Waitress, the film that Adrienne Shelly had just finished when she was murdered last November. I was very sad when I heard of her death, but to be honest, I kind of assumed Waitress would suck, and that it only made it into Sundance and then sold here (for $4 or 5 million dollars, no less) out of some kind of respect for Shelly. As it turns out, it was selected for Sundance mere days before she died, and it was sold because, well, it's really solid. There's nothing too groundbreaking here (it's about a small-town pie waitress (played by Keri Russell) who has an affair and wants to get away from her abusive husband), but it's well made and thoroughly entertaining and well cast and funny. Shelly will be greatly missed.

This morning I woke up early for the second-to-last time to see Black Snake Moan, the new movie from Craig Baldwin of Hustle & Flow fame, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci. Trailers for Black Snake Moan have been airing for months now, so I'm assuming a lot of you know what I'm talking about here. To be honest, I don't feel compelled to say much about it, as it comes out in a few weeks and is not terribly good or bad, but it was entertaining enough to keep me awake at 8:30 a.m. after eight straight nights of two to six hours of sleep.

If I remember correctly (I unthinkingly threw away the press screening schedule for my first couple of days here), I missed the original press screening of Sarah Polley's directorial debut, Away From Her, because I opted to see The Savages. They re-screened Away From Her today, which made me happy, because I like Polley as an actress a lot and wanted to see what she could do behind the camera. It seems appropriate that I missed Away From Her because of The Savages now, because they both deal with the trouble that goes along with dropping off a loved one in a nursing home (albeit in entirely different ways). Away From Her concerns a husband who is still competent putting his wife of 45 years in a home—and his wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, is still mostly competent. But then she falls in love with another old guy in the home, and gradually (and legitimately, thanks to the Alzheimer's) forgets who her husband is. In contrast to the An American Crime syndrome, I didn't like the first third of Away From Her, but did like the last two thirds, so at least the ratio is a little better.

Next up was The King of California, which stars Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood, and was inexplicably produced by Alexander Payne (who also, incidentally, produced The Savages). It wins The Jacket award for being a shitty, formulaic movie starring proper movie stars that shows at Sundance presumably only to gain some otherwise unobtainable street cred. It's a piece of shit.

The last movie I saw before coming here was the second of two Zooey Deschanel movies at the festival, The Go-Getter. And while it is certainly better than her other offering (that being The Good Life), The Go-Getter is pretty crappy. It has a good cast, though; it's hard to not like something that finds a role for Judy Greer. Still, I didn't like it.

Okay, I've got to go to the Prospector now. If Interview starts on time and is its scheduled running time and there is no Q&A afterward, I might stand a chance of scampering up to the Holiday Village to see the press screening of The Ten, although this all seems extremely unlikely. If I do, that'll make six movies for the day today, which is good—although it feels like I've been seeing movies almost nonstop since I've been here, more so than I usually do at film festivals even; after Interview I will have seen 35 movies, with my previous record for Sundance being 44 movies in 11 days. Tomorrow I've got four scheduled, and Saturday I'll probably only get to see one or two (because tomorrow's the last day for press screenings, and it is pretty hard to fight my way into public screenings), and Sunday I have to leave at 1:45 p.m. and the earliest they show any movies is at 10 a.m., so I probably won't get to see any. I wonder what I did differently in 2005, when I hit that 44 mark… | Pete Timmermann

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