Day 8 (Thursday, Jan. 27):
I woke up this morning feeling woozy and inordinately tired. This continued through my drive to Park City, and it was joined by a bit of nausea. I felt like I was pregnant, though I wasn’t sure how that could have happened. I do know a few people who are pregnant right now. Had I caught it from them? Is that even possible? How do you get pregnant, anyway?
I figured the best cure for feeling out-of-sorts was to watch a movie. The movie in question was “Nine Lives,” a collection of vignettes about various women’s lives. How many women? Why, nine, actually.
The film guide says this movie is 153 minutes long, which you’ll agree is far, far too long for any film that does not have hobbits in it. Plus, at this point in the festival, people are generally choosing their movies based on how short they are. I was seeing “Nine Lives” only because it was the only option in that time slot. Believe me, if another movie had been available that was shorter, I’d have gone there, even if it had starred Carrot Top.
So imagine my Christmas-like surprise when “Nine Lives” turned out to be only 105 minutes! It was a small miracle that made me realize, despite my low day yesterday, that Sundance is still worth going to, and life is still worth living. And I was feeling better now, too. If I had been pregnant before, it had gone away. Thank goodness!
I had to rush back to Salt Lake City after “Nine Lives” to take care of some business and sign a bunch of papers. I won’t bore you with details, but I will offer this advice: Never buy a condo. And if you do buy one, don’t ever try to sell it.
Anyway, that ate up much of the afternoon, but don’t worry! I still got my requisite four movies in today. At 4:30, I was back in Park City and watching “The Puffy Chair,” which I keep thinking is called “The Comfy Chair,” which of course was a torture device in one of the old Monty Python “Spanish Inquisition” sketches.
But no, this was a puffy chair (though it was probably comfy, too, I guess). The film is an easy-going little comedy about a slacker 30-year-old who still calls everyone “dude” and “man” (including his girlfriend) and who recently quit his rock band to become a rock band promoter. He finds this old chair on eBay that is an exact replica of the chair his dad used to lounge on, so he buys it as a birthday present for the old man. He has to drive from New York to North Carolina to pick it up, and then on to Atlanta to deliver it, and his girlfriend and his pseudo-hippie brother come along, and it’s a big road trip full of awkward confrontations and emotional maturation.
I liked the movie. It made me laugh and smile, and the performances are very good-natured and likable. It was shot documentary-style, which means it is non-traditional and might not get picked up, and if it does, it might not make any money. But it’s the sort of “independent film” that normal folks would like, too.
Shortly after this film was a press screening for “What Is It?,” the writing/directing debut of Mr. Crispin Glover, who is the craziest person I have ever met. The film confirms it. It’s not so much a movie as a cry for help. Most of the cast are people with Down syndrome, I kid you not. Glover himself plays a kingly underworld sort of guy who seems to be afraid that one of the Down syndrome guys thinks he (the Down syndrome guy) is Glover. I don’t know why Glover thinks the kid thinks that, but he does. The Down syndrome kid himself, meanwhile, is fond of tormenting snails. Also, there is a man in blackface who wants to be an invertebrate. Also, there is a scene where a naked woman with a monkey mask on brings a watermelon to a naked middle-aged retarded man who is reclining on a giant clam shell. All of this is joined together by absolutely no plot, at least not that I could discern. It is probably the strangest movie I ever seen. I kinda liked it.
This was only three movies for the day, but I was feeling very tired and there was nothing else showing in Park City that I felt like seeing. Just like last night, I decided to call it an early night. This time, I actually made it to my car and drove home to Salt Lake City.
As I got into town, though, it occurred to me that there are Sundance Film Festival venues IN Salt Lake City, where I live! I had never taken advantage of that fact before, because prior to this year, I lived 40 minutes away in Orem, so driving to The SLC wasn’t much better than driving to Park City. But now I live in The SLC, and in fact I live within walking distance of the Broadway Centre, where Sundance occupies as many as three screens during the festival. (Please do not take the term “walking distance” to mean that I actually walked there.)
It was 9:15, and I saw in the schedule (which I looked at while I was driving) that “The Chumscrubber” was to commence at 9:45. This film stars Jamie Bell, who I’ve always thought was a good young actor, and there have been no press screenings at all and only two public screenings in Park City. This would be my only chance to see it.
So once again, my plans to have an early night were thwarted when I accidentally watched a movie. But unlike last night, I’m glad it happened. “The Chumscrubber” is a very good movie set in sunny suburbia, and detailing the oddness of adults and the unsupervised mayhem of teenagers. It reminded me a bit of “Donnie Darko,” but in a good way: the surreal middle-class characters, the hallucinatory protagonist, the deeper themes of angst and death. It’s a comedy, more or less, but it’s also a satire and a mystery. I hope it gets picked up for release, because I would like to see it again.
Oh, and it has Ralph Fiennes in it, except the whole time I thought he was Liam Neeson. It wasn’t until I looked at the cast list that I realized it was Fiennes. Ditto Carrie-Anne Moss, who I thought was Sarah Clarke (Nina Myers from “24″). Maybe it didn’t even star Jamie Bell. Obviously my eyes aren’t to be trusted.