This dispatch is coming to you from the Ice Planet of Hoth. But instead of Tauntauns, they ride Audis. I'm at the Sundance Film Festival, a wonderful, magical place where your feet may be constantly cold and damp, but your heart is kept warm by a bombardment of the best in independent and world cinema.
The "sun" in Sundance is a cruel joke. Park City, Utah, is atop a mountain and, in case you didn't notice, it is January. This means snow, this means slush, this means wet, this means slipping on the ice and this means frequent hits off the asthma inhaler due to the intense elevation. Still, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I know what you're thinking. This is Planet Fanboy! This isn't Planet Snootypants McArthouse! To which I respond: a) Planet Fanboy plots no such predictable orbit! and b) There's plenty of stuff at Sundance for nerdy movie lovers.
Some of your favorite franchise actors like to spread their wings with some arthouse projects. In fact "The Dark Knight" was represented two different ways this year. Cillian Murphy (Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow) is the star of "Red Lights," a film picked up for wider distribution about paranormalists vs. debunkers. (Think of it like "The Prestige," but with spoon benders.) Murphy's mentor is played by Sigourney Weaver, who ain't exactly a slouch in the fanboy film department herself.
William Fichtner, the dude from the opening bank scene in "The Dark Knight," steals the show in "Wrong," the new film from Quentin Dupieux. Perhaps you heard of Dupieux's last film, "Rubber," about a killer tire? This new one features, among other things, the concept of inter-species telepathy. The jury is still out if this movie will ever see a post-festival life.
Frank Langella, memorable to "Star Trek" fanatics as the Bajoran politician Jaro Essa from the "Circle" arc on "Deep Space Nine" blew everyone's ski boots off with "Robot and Frank," a funny and heartwarming tale about an old man, his helper robot and grand larceny. It is a magnificent movie with big laughs (and some cool near-future tech) that I have a hunch we'll be talking about again next year when Langella gets a nomination for Best Actor.
Joel Edgerton may be better known to mainstream audiences from "Warrior," but we, of course, met him years ago as Uncle Owen in "Episode III." His dark, mysterious drama "Wish You Were Here" opened the fest – and is kinda like a version of "The Hangover 2" without jokes. Okay, intentionally without jokes. The movie is pretty good, a little disappointing once the secret is revealed, but, man, it is gorgeous, shot on location in Southeast Asia and Australia.
A film that got some mixed buzz was "Bachelorette." I didn't see it, because I figured I already saw "Bridesmaids" and it looked like the same exact thing. And if it wasn't, it should have had the sense to start with a different letter. It did, however, star Kirsten Dunst and, as far as I'm concerned, she's still Spider-Man's girlfriend for a few more months.
The closing night film is called "The Words," and, as such, I haven't seen it yet – though I have my ticket. I like going into these things blind, so I don't know the plot, but I do know that the unchallenged Geek Queen Zoe Saldana is in it. I plan to stand up and say "I See You" at full voice when she first comes on the screen. Then I will be thrown out of the theater. As I am ejected I will shout, "my hailing frequencies will always be open for youuuuuuuuuuu!"
I'll be back from Sundance next week and, once I have promotional artisinal vodka drinks transfused from my body, I'll be back on the case for what's happening this week in nerd!
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