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David Poland

By David Poland

Wrapping Sundance

Part One
I’m not saying that there weren’t plenty of whores on every corner of Main Street for those who wished to indulge in irrelevancy. But to this set of eyes, it seemed that the ferocity was cut pretty much in half from last year. Really… half.
The response, of course, is now that there wasn’t enough sparkle… that the swag wasn’t very good this year… that the parties were a bit flat. To misquote Hee Haw, “If it weren’t for bad news, we’d make up no news at all… woe, despair and agony on me.”
Part Two
Really, the two most interesting women’s performances I saw at Sundance this year were JR Valentin as Maximo Oliveros in The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros and Chiwetel Ojiofor as Lola in Kinky Boots. Ironically, the two women who show up on screen with penises are the only two who are given subtle, complex, unexpected notes to play, though Ojiofor’s drag queen is a bit more in the Hollywood-By-Way-Of-The-Full-Monty than the remarkable intimacy of Maximo Oliveros.

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26 Responses to “Wrapping Sundance”

  1. Rufus Masters says:

    Bad parties, bad gifts and weak films? Doesn’t sound like fun.

  2. Wrecktum says:

    Is it time to finally close the coffin lid on Sundance relevancy?

  3. Rufus Masters says:

    Until they have a hit movie come out of here, it has to go down as irrelevant.

  4. Bruce says:

    This year Sundance was trumped by other film industry and entertainment news. Don’t see that too often.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    Er, Rufus…. You are, like, joking, right? I mean, you aren’t really saying that there’s never been a hit movie to come out of Sundance, right? I mean, even you have heard of — well, let’s just pick two at random — “The Blair Witch Project” and “sex lies & videotape,” right?

  6. Rufus Masters says:

    ‘Sex, lies, and videotape’ 1989
    ‘Blair Witch’ 1999
    I meant recently. What I’m saying is the festival needs hits like those to stay relevant and succeed. Movies like that bring credibility and publicity.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    What’s your definition of a hit? A movie that makes a nice profit? Or does it have to gross $100 million worldwide? Because, really, Sundance was never designed to launch blockbusters. If you’re looking for a $100 million grosser on the Sundance schedule every year — well, you’re looking in the wrong place. Seems to me people look to Sundance more for films on the order of “Hustle & Flow,” “You and Me and Everyone We Know,” “The Squid and The Whale” or “The Matador.”
    Of course, on the other hand: Sundnace 2005 DID have the premiere of “March of the Penguins.”

  8. Kockum says:

    Good day, Mr Poland. Hope all is well. I imagine that there’s quite a workload waiting today, with you coming back from Sundance, the Oscar nominations arriving tomorrow, and all other sorts of baggage that most of us, your regular (and if I may say so myself, faithful) readers, are not privy to.
    So, I hope I do not inconvenience you when I ask if you were planning to answer some of the questions we posed in the Name Faking-thread in the near future? I know at least I would like a few answers to these questions, and have been patiently awaiting your return so that you may be able to find the time and the place to do so. I hope you see it as the sign of respect and sympathy for your plight that this was.
    I do not want to appear as a troll, and my painstaking efforts to not be one must be visible to all by now.
    You may not particularly like me, I can imagine why, but even so I do admire you and your work. Anyhow, even if you do not find me particularly agreeable, I do not believe it discredits the value of my questions and suggestions, unless you find them worthless and then you are most welcome to show why these questions and suggestions are unsound.
    Anyhow, if you are busy, a slight acknowledgment of my existence, and those of our many questions, would be enough for the moment, I suppose.
    Looking forward to your response, and the explanation for the yay or nay to my questions and suggestions.
    Hope all is well with all other posters, as well.

  9. PandaBear says:

    I’d take a festival that has a few “Hustle and Flow’s” and a few “Squid and Whales” every year. That’s successful in my eyes.

  10. Angelus21 says:

    Sundance and film festivals like it should be about the movies. I think the purpose of the festival got lost when it got too big. It lost its way for a while. It should be about independent movies. Independent directors. Cutting edge films.

  11. Rufus Masters says:

    You’re right. Those are good films that need to be seen and Sundance gave them a shot. That is what a festival like it is for. I’m just saying to maintain relevance with the average public moviegoer it could use the buzz of a hit film. It might not be the objective of the festival but it does help the festival and all films in it. The more successful one film is, the better for everyone else.
    You can call “Hustle and Flow” a hit. I think it is. I just don’t associate it with Sundance for some reason. Could just be me though.
    You could also make the case that real successful films ruined the festival and put too high of expectations on all films that go into it.

  12. PetalumaFilms says:

    What “offscreen problems” did Robin Tunney have? I never heard about em.
    And I agree about OPEN WINDOW. It started strong then turned downright silly. Elliott Gould played the EXACT same character he played in Noah Baumbach’s KICKING & SCREAMING…..only he was still married….and likes the Lakers (not the Knicks) in this one.
    “Call me….Knicks in trouble….”

  13. jeffmcm says:

    Well, since Hustle and Flow premiered at Sundance last year, won the Audience Award, and was purchased there, then yes, it is just you, Rufus.

  14. Mark Ziegler says:

    Elliot Gould has been playing the same characters for almost 40 years.

  15. Rufus Masters says:

    Must be me. I just didn’t feel or hear the buzz from last year’s event. Like this year. What’s the buzzed about movie? I may have fallen into the trap of expecting a lot of big hits from Sundance.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    You’re right, with the exception of Little Miss Sunshine, which will be a very mainstream crowd-pleaser, it doesn’t sound like anything too revolutionary happened this year. Unless you like dog fellatio.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    “I may have fallen into the trap of expecting a lot of big hits from Sundance.”
    You and many other people, Rufus. Actually, you raise a very good point: I have often suspected that some critics and journalists often… well, how can I say this? They more or less wish a hit (or two or three)into being while at Sundance, if only to justify to themselves and their editors the time and expense of Sundance coverage. I don’t mean they’re fabricating — they simply really, REALLY want to discover something, anything. And trust me: If you see a lot of crap over a period of a few days in Park City, even a mediocrity can seem like “Citizen Kane” and “The 400 Blows” rolled into one. That’s how buzz gets started. Trouble is, many of those buzzed-about films wind up not looking so special to folks out in the real world.

  18. Fades To Black says:

    I had high hopes for the Sundance Channel. I was expecting it to show the smaller films from the festivals past. Give us a look see at something we won’t get to see in the theatres or on dvd. I thought it would give us another outlet to see films. Especially ones that entered the festival. Hasn’t turned out like that though. Seems there’s no money in it.

  19. PetalumaFilms says:

    It’s funny but the last few years at Sundance, I’d complain there were too many “big” films. Stuff you could see everywhere and stuff that wasn’t all that independent. Then this year I saw alot of really indie CRAP. I swear, if I see one more wannabe Terrence Malick/David Gordon Green long take of pseudo-pretty landscape, I’m going to keel over and die of boredom. There was a shit-ton of that this year.
    I also was not impressed at all with IN THE PIT or deNADIE which both won doc awards. IN THE PIT was just boring and deNADIE felt like there was alot of unsubstantiated facts in it…but I’m too lazy to pursue them to see if they’re accurate.

  20. Sanchez says:

    Wannabe Malick? Isn’t that every kid who goes to film school?

  21. jeffmcm says:

    They tend to not be nearly so artsy. Spielberg and Tarantino are bigger role models.

  22. David Poland says:

    Kockum –
    Please write me privately… whatever drama there was seems to have calmed…

  23. grandcosmo says:

    What are Robin Tunney’s offscreen problems?

  24. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Wasn’t “Open Water” a sundance movie? That made a tidy fortune.

  25. Cadavra says:

    “Wannabe Malick? Isn’t that every kid who goes to film school?”
    No, she played the drunk ex-model on JUST SHOOT ME.

  26. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Oh god, what ever happened to LAURA SAN GIACOMO? One of the most annoying Oscar snubs of my 20 years on this planet, really.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

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