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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Bring on the Sundance summarizing: 9 takes

“After the streets and the buses [were] free of the non-film skiers and LA lookeeloos and I saw 3 Backyards, Blue Valentine, and Winter’s Bone, I started to think about how essential Sundance still is to American Indie film,” Mike S. Ryan writes, arguing why Sundance still matters: “Where else would such stellar, uncommercial work be better presented to the public? If these films have any chance of securing a healthy life in your local mall, it is for sure due to their introduction via the national press that has really gathered to grab shots of stars in wacky fur hats. That is the dialectical reality of the Sundance condition.” The New York Times’ Brooks Barnes gets Robert Redford to repeat at the end of the festival some of what he said at the front of the festival: “This year I got very heavily involved again because we had to let some folks go,” Mr. Redford said. “It was the right thing to do. Geoff [Gilmore] was ready to go and we were also ready to move on. I felt the festival was flat-lining and not going in the direction I wanted.”… A spokeswoman for Mr. Gilmore, who now works for the company that runs the Tribeca Film Festival, said he was unavailable to comment.” Mike Jones has four take-aways. Eric Kohn offers reason to dub Sundance “Posey’s Waltz.”
Mira Advani Honeycutt blurbs the “lounges,” and “discretionary gifting”: “In between bites of organic mini cupcakes, guests could get a luxurious Clarisonic skin treatment from Dr. Rob Akridge.” First-timer Timothy M. Gray convinces himself a film festival in the mountains in January is a good idea. “First, because the scenery is stunning. Amazingly stunning. Second, It’s fun to see showbiz colleagues, trying to look their best, coping with freezing weather. (High heels + slush = guaranteed hilarity.) Third, the love of film is pervasive. Total strangers at restaurants exchange moviegoing tips. Nonpros come into town to see as many films as possible. The industry workers come to scout/encourage talent. And of course, to make deals. Art and commerce exist peacefully, with creativity to be found even in the pacts this year (sales to online and foreign companies, imaginative reach-outs to audiences, etc.). Without the distraction of gifting suites this year, it’s all movies all the time. Early in The Shining, Shelley Duvall’s loopy character enthuses, “It’ll be lots of fun.” Jack Nicholson smiles about the location, “I love it.” OK, it didn’t turn out too well for that family, but I came to see their point of view… I loved it.” At the Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt leans on his superior boredom and makes presumptuous analogies to old news in college football that would make no sense to the average reader. “At nearly every turn, [filmmakers] went for the expected. Brave new ideas were nowhere to be seen. What one did get were tired warhorses such as the coming-of-age movie… Qualitywise, these films ran the gamut from good to so-so, but nobody was smashing any molds.” At Variety, Todd McCarthy prescribes his own Sundance “revolution,” programming films that he wishes had been made.

“In his catalogue welcoming note, new festival director John Cooper calls out, “Let’s rebel,” in the same enthusiastic tone that, at a different time, he might have said, ‘Let’s party,'” McCarthy writes. “OK, fine. Every event needs an identity… something to stick in people’s minds. But if you’re confronted with a pithy phrase often enough, it’s bound to… meaninglessly wash over you or force you to think about what it really means. For example, I sympathize with the impulse toward accomplishment embodied in the famous Nike slogan, “Just Do It.” Just the same, I’ve always been bothered… that the phrase could as readily be adopted by a Lee Harvey Oswald or a Mark David Chapman as by a striving athlete…” McCarthy’s cynicism extends to a perception of content. “[G]iven the dogmatic leftism/tree-hugging/granola-chewing/global warming alarmism, et al., the festival has always embraced, the only real act of rebellion… would be to present a smart film that questioned any of these positions. I honestly cannot remember ever seeing what could remotely be described as a conservative documentary at Sundance. Granted, not many are made, and I would frankly be amazed if any would be accepted if submitted… [I] would love to see a genuinely critical examination of the many blunders and chicken-hearted actions of the United Nations; a documentary holding up for scrutiny the many wild prophecies of the esteemed Paul Ehrlich, whose doom-ridden predictions about population growth were the first words I heard out of any professor’s mouth as a university freshman, or a film that looked with unbiased clear eyes into the extent of Soviet communist infiltration and financing of American unions, academia, social organizations and other institutions from the 1930s onward. There are many potent unmade films.” And Shooting People has a gallery of Sundance posters past.

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“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster

“If there’s one rule Hollywood has metaphysically proven in its century of experimentation, it’s that there’s no amount of money you can’t squander in the quest for hits.

“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

“If you’re working at a normal studio, you have one or two of these total misfires in a year and people start calling for your head. How many is Netflix going on? Fifteen? Twenty? This quarter? Any normal company would be getting murdered over results like that.”
~ Richard Rushfield