Day 3: Pico and the Sundance Kid

Part 1: U2 Odyssey

Last time I left you, dear readers, I was waiting to see if I would get in to the midnight screening of "U23D" at the Eccles Theatre. I had just endured two hours of 19-degree weather, and I was determined to get inside the theatre.

After blogging, I took the shuttle back to the theatre to take my coveted #1 place in line.

Number one

As you can see, I was prepared. I was also envied. Take a look at the crowd hoping to get into the screening:

Waiting for "U23D"

And that's about half of the people waiting—the lucky half, since the others were suffering outside in the cold.

Just before they started letting the ticketed folks in, a kind soul came up and gave me a hard ticket for the same $10 I would have paid to get in on the waitlist. So I trudged outside and joined the ticket-holders line, which gave me a slightly better advantage of getting a good seat.

I purposefully sat near the podium because I knew U2 was in the building. I also knew any celebrities to be seen would be in that vicinity. Apparently Oprah and Al Gore had attended the 9:45 show, so I was holding out for a good sighting. I didn't see Oprah, but tell me if you can find Glenn Close in this picture:

U23D screening

For the 3-d effects, you had to don some really sexy glasses:

Think it's a good look?

The director of Sundance personally threatened us all with bodily harm if we didn't return the glasses at the end of the screening, or else I would have taken them home and worn them on a daily basis.

And, of course, U2 was there! (Well, U2 minus the drummer, Larry.) Check this out:

U2! (minus one)

And a video of their comments before the film:

(My new friend Marsha also posted a video of their comments before the 9:45 show, if you're interested.)

And, hey, they actually showed the movie at the end of it all! Howdya like that? The movie is just 3-d footage of a 2006 concert in Buenos Aires, but it's cut together very well and the 3-d effects are just plain cool. It alternately feels like you're at the concert and that you're on stage with U2... and that you're 40-feet tall. They play all the good standbys: "One," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "With or Without You." You get the gist. If you're a huge U2 fan, this is a must-see. Luckily, it should be getting limited release on January 23, so go buy your tickets now!

Part 2: The Morning After

Freezing your ass off for hours and then watching a virtual U2 concert until 3 a.m. does not make a body good. Especially the next morning, when you have tickets to the 9:15 Shorts II program. I was only able to roll off my aerobed out of a sense of obligation. Obligation to my dad and Yvonne, who were off seeing another screening and had entrusted me to sell their two tickets to waitlisters. Obligation to you, my blog readers, to not slack off and try and see as many films as possible. And Obligation to myself to not be a lazy bum.

Luckily, the shorts program was quite good. I met fellow Sundance blogger Dana at the screening, and we discussed previous Sundance hits and misses. I definitely recommend the Danish short "Dennis" (about a weightlifter with a some Freudian issues) and "Aquarium" (about a fish-obsessed kid looking for love) in the "normal filmmaking" category. This shorts program also had two animated films that both were a bit explicit, but both hilarious. If you're not a prude or easily offended by sexual material, go check out "Teat Beat of Sex." It's amazingly innovative.

"Bend It" won my daily prize of "what were the programmers thinking?!?" The whole film was of two gender-ambiguous women dancing to an eponymous song. Then it was over. Performance art? Sure. Sundance-worthy short film? I think not. Steve, keep your chin up. If stuff like "Bend It" can make it to Sundance, your films surely can. You just have to pray to the right programming gods...

After the shorts, I joined dad and Yvonne for lunch and they told me that Megane, the film I had opted to skip, was the best thing they had seen so far. Dad said it was like a symphony. Oh well.

After lunch, we went to use our tickets for the 1pm screening of Yasukuni. It was a documentary about a controversial shrine for war heroes in Japan. Or so I gathered. The combination of 4 hours' sleep, reading subtitles, and the low-key soundtrack put me straight to sleep for most of the film. Asking dad and Yvonne after the screening, I gathered it wasn't the most well-made film, anyway, so my snoozing wasn't totally uncalled for. The consensus seems to be that the director took a very interesting topic and made it uninteresting through amateurish filmmaking. Oh well.

I then went and took a nap in the room before joining the team for Shorts Program V at the Prospector Theatre. We had tickets, which was a good thing since it was a completely full screening. I couldn't figure out why there was such an unusual demand for a shorts program until the programmer introduced Isabella Rossellini as one of the directors. She made a series of shorts intended for web/mobile called "Green Porno," in which she described the sexual behaviors of various insects. They were hilarious. Keep an eye out for them. The others were good, too, but nothing sticks out in my mind quite as much as the insect porn. Silly me.

I ducked out of the Q&A for the shorts to try and catch a 9:45 screening of The Wave at the Holiday Theatre. When I arrived, I got #74 in the wait list (for a theatre that seats 156), so I decided to head over to the Library to get an early start on the Great Buck Howard screening. However, a reliable-looking volunteer at the Library informed me that he didn't like the movie, and he thought my time might be better spent elsewhere. I thanked him and headed back to the Holiday to try my luck at The Wave.

In line for The Wave, I got to talking with the small group of other hopeless waitlisters nearby. In due time, we realized that we all were USC students or alumni, and we bonded over our Trojan pride. The Wave was sold out way before our lousy numbers, so we got to talking about a different plan of attack. We contemplated seeing Strangers at midnight, but then someone whipped out a Slamdance schedule and saw that the movie Paranormal Activity was about to get started on Main Street. I tagged along with my new USC buddies, and through the rush line I was able to get in to my very first Slamdance screening. It was a completely different feel—smaller theatre, fewer people, more accessible. I could get used to this.

The film was basically "Blair Witch Project" indoors. And I say this with the utmost of respect, because Paranormal Activity scared the CRAP out of me. It was about a young couple trying to document the weird hauntings they experience in their San Diego home. As the hauntings intensify, we get to see everything from a home-video perspective. It was creepy. It was great. I'm still kind of freaked out, so it must have been a good scary movie. Here's a preview:

I then walked down Main Street with an ever-growing group of USC people trying to find somewhere to grab a drink. We needed to calm our nerves, and beer sounded like the right medicine. However, all the bars either were invite-only or had outrageous covers, so we simply walked around in the snow for a bit. Just as we were commenting on how slippery the sidewalks were, we watched a girl in high-heeled boots bite it HARD on the pavement. There was a broken cell phone and blood involved. This didn't help us feel calmer. After a while, we realized the bars were closing and hailed a taxi home.

And now I'm going to bed. I don't have a screening until noon tomorrow, so I can sleep in and, hopefully, not fall asleep in a movie theatre. And now, my short-but-sweet Celebrity-Sightings List!

  • Bono, for real

  • The Edge, again

  • Adam Clayton

  • Glenn Close

  • Isabella Rossellini


Steve said...

holy crud, that ghost movie looks scary as shit!

Anonymous said...

Oprah's 4 interviews with Jill Bolte Taylor were the first that Oprah did after Eckhart Tolle and they take everything Tolle talks about to another level. Oprah's copy of Jill's book, MY STROKE OF INSIGHT, was dog-eared and all marked up and kept reading from it the way she read from A New Earth and recommended it highly.

Oprah's recommendation was enough for me. I read My Stroke of Insight and I loved it too. This story is as inspiring as The Last Lecture or Tuesdays with Morrie - and even better, it has a Happy Ending!

I bought the book on Amazon because they have it for 40% off retail and they also had an amazing interview with Dr Taylor that I haven't seen anywhere else - Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/My-Stroke-Insight-Scientists-Personal/dp/0670020745/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1211471755&sr=1-2

Anonymous said...

I read "My Stroke of Insight" in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it's a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her TED.com speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I've ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.