Sundance Report: Obsession

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I love Parker Posey. She’s been in many good movies, including “Waiting for Guffman,” which was the best comedy of the ’90s and one of the best comedies of the past 1,000 years. She was in “The House of Yes,” which contains the only good Freddie Prinze Jr. performance on record. (Scientists believe this was an anomaly that will not occur again in our lifetimes.) I can understand how John Hinckley felt with his obsession for Jodie Foster: If I thought for a moment that Parker Posey wanted me to assassinate someone, I would totally do it.

One of the reasons a person like me goes to the Sundance Film Festival is to see the latest Parker Posey film. She is the undisputed Queen of Independent Films. This year she was in “Personal Velocity,” a chick flick that I, being non-chick in nature, did not find terribly useful. Nonetheless, the acting from her, Fairuza Balk and Kyra Sedgwick is for to make one happy.

You can imagine my childlike wonderment and delight, then, when a publicist for the movie called and asked if I wanted to participate in a round-table interview with the three stars. I said I most certainly did, which was actually only one-third true: I wanted to interview Parker Posey. I couldn’t care less about Kyra Sedgwick or Fairuza Balk, both of which sound like geographic terms from “Lord of the Rings.” (“You must cross the Bridge of Fairuza Balk over into the Land of Kyra Sedgwick.”)

There were five other semi-journalists there, some of them even less qualified than myself. Parker looked casually sassy in a baggy off-the-shoulder sweater and blue jeans. She is pencil-thin but well-proportioned. I don’t recall whether Kyra and Fairuza were wearing clothes. (Actually, I remember Fairuza — who reminds me of the Goth chicks I was afraid of in high school — had well over 1 million rings and bracelets.)

The journalists who were not me dominated the conversation, asking questions about the movie. Kyra and Fairuza talked a lot; Parker, while endlessly bubbly and friendly, seemed least interested in the discussion. The format did not allow for a lot of individual questions — they were there to talk about the movie they’re in together — and so queries as to whether Parker Posey, specifically, would marry me seemed inappropriate.

I did ask Parker — I called her Parker — what she planned to do to stop Christina Ricci from dethroning her as Queen of Independent Films. (The fearsome, bug-eyed Ricci has three films at Sundance this year, while Parker has only one.) She jokingly said, “Oh, I’m lying awake at night worrying about it. Christina and I are going to meet and work something out.” I asked if there would be a fight, and she said I should stop projecting my male fantasies onto her. Then her cellphone rang, and she answered it, “Hi, Christina.” It wasn’t really Christina, but man, what a great joke. I laughed until a year from now.

We also got to interview the writer/director of “Personal Velocity,” Rebecca Miller. She is the daughter of Arthur Miller, who was the greatest American playwright of the 20th century. I asked her whether being the daughter of a bigshot has more advantages or disadvantages, and she said she can’t estimate how much difference it makes, because she has never NOT been Arthur Miller’s daughter. She implied she wasn’t there to talk about Arthur Miller, which meant I had to throw out my entire list of questions, which included: How is Arthur Miller? And: Can you get me Arthur Miller’s autograph? (It is just as well, I suppose; I couldn’t remember whether he’s alive or dead, and I was fearful of using the wrong verb tense when I talked about him.)

The famous people were all very pleasant, as famous people tend to be when they’re in carefully controlled, media-oriented environments. Not a lot of insight came out of the interviews, except that all three cast members and the director think “Personal Velocity” is a great movie. I disagree, but that won’t stop me from seeing it again and memorizing the Parker Posey parts.

I was disappointed I didn't get more one-on-one time with Parker Posey, as I would love to have discussed "Waiting for Guffman" with her. I also wanted to record her saying, "Who's on top and who's on bottom now, Billy?" (That's from one of the "Guffman" deleted scenes, found on the DVD. In my imagination, Parker watches those scenes as often as I do.)

Other films starring Kyra Sedwick (none of which any of us reporters could remember at the time): "Phenomenon" and "Singles." Other films starring Fairuza Balk (which some of us could remember): "Almost Famous," "The Waterboy," "The Craft."

Arthur Miller was still alive at this point, though he did eventually die in 2005.

The entire paragraph about Rebecca Miller almost got cut out for publication, due to the column being too long with it. But at the last minute, I thought, "What the heck," and left it in. I'm sure there was nothing better to put in the newspaper that day.

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