Wrapping up Sundance loose ends

I left Utah on Saturday, stopped in Boise for the night (making sure not to stay in the hotel where I almost got shot), and arrived safely in Portland yesterday afternoon. But echoes of Sundance still reverberate, and here we shall address them.

First, Cinematical has a handy list of which Sundance films have been purchased by distributors, which means they will eventually play at a theater near you. These are just the ones that sold during the festival; if history is any guide, there will be several more deals made this week, with a few more trickling in over the next few months.

Next, here are the films I reviewed during the festival:


“Art & Copy”
“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”
“Dead Snow”
“Mary and Max”
“Mystery Team”
“Paper Heart”
“Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire”

Finally, here are some answers to questions people posed in the comments on my daily Sundance diaries. You know that I generally try to ignore my readers, but I felt these warranted responses.

Q: As for “Moon”, are we talking “Sunshine” sci-fi with a horror 3rd act or something more deep-minded and borderline pretentious like “The Fountain”?

A: Luckily, those aren’t the only two choices. “Moon” is a pretty straightforward sci-fi drama with some thriller elements. It’s accessible, not ambiguous or weird; anyone paying attention to it will understand perfectly well what’s going on.

Q: Does “Art & Copy” finally give credit to Spencer W. Kimball for the “Just Do It” slogan? Apologize for asking, but I’m compelled to perpetuate LDS folklore at any opportunity.

A: LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball (who died in 1985) did indeed have “Do It” as his slogan, emblazoned on a plaque on his desk. When Nike came out with the “Just Do It” slogan in 1988, many Mormons noticed with some bemusement that it sounded familiar. It’s unlikely that Nike’s advertising agency intentionally borrowed Pres. Kimball’s motto, though. If you think about it, “Do It” (or “Just Do It”) isn’t a particularly creative or clever phrase — the simplicity that makes it so inspiring is also what makes it liable to have been conceived by any number of people independently of one another.

Now, if one of Nike’s ad guys had been a Mormon, then we’d have something. But I don’t think that was the case. As it was, no one outside of Mormonism was likely to have heard of Pres. Kimball or his motto. But as another commenter pointed out, it is interesting that so many people were motivated by “Just Do It” when a lot of other people had already been motivated by it for years before that.

As for Pres. Kimball being the inspiration for Yoda, I’m sure that one is totally true.

Q: Are you going to see any student films? I know of one called “The Replacement Child” by Justin Lerner. I’m curious to know if it sucketh or not.

A: No film by that title played at Sundance, and Sundance doesn’t have a “student film” section. If it was playing in Park City last week, it was probably part of one of the many other events that come to town to glom onto Sundance’s popularity without actually being affiliated with it. (Slamdance is the most famous of these.) Sundance itself takes up enough time and energy, so I don’t usually pay any attention to the other stuff.

Q: I think the woman who set her papers on top of yours was flirting with you. You know, in an awkward, nerdy, socially inept sort of way. Perhaps she just wanted to be noticed?

A: No. She was in her late 50s and never even looked at me. The only plausible explanation for her behavior is that I actually was invisible during that time.

Q: [With regard to my probable sleep apnea] You went and got a new TV when you could have spent those $$ on a sleep study and some new equipment? Yeesh!

A: First of all, I do have priorities. Second, if I could have bought a sleep study and equipment on Amazon.com for a thousand dollars, I’d have done so.

Q: [With regard to “Dead Snow,” about zombie Nazis or Nazi zombies] I believe the correct term would be zombie Nazis — dead Nazis that were zombified, making zombie an adjective. Nazi zombies would be nazified zombies, like a bunch of undead who took to studying Nazi ideals and subsequently became Nazis.

A: This is grammatically logical, and it’s what occurred to me, too. But you have to take into account which trait is more important. The fact that these zombies are Nazis is irrelevant — it’s their zombieness that makes them dangerous, not their Nazism. When they’re chasing you, you don’t think, “Oh my gosh! Those undead flesh-eaters believe in the extermination of the Jews!” You think, “Holy crap! ZOMBIES!!!” Hence, the best way to describe them is as Nazi zombies, with “Nazi” being an almost unnecessary descriptor of “zombies.”

Where you could have a real philosophical conversation is if they were a combination of two equally dangerous things: vampire and zombies, for example. Vampire zombies? Or zombie vampires? Personally, I find zombies more unsettling, since they can’t think or reason and have no compunction about barging into your house uninvited. Vampires, on the other hand, are relatively easy to avoid once you know who they are. But that’s just me.