Essays · Movies

Sundance Blog: Interviews, Snow and Surprises

Sundance rolls on, and with no sleep and plenty more work to do, I keep rolling as well.
By  · Published on January 25th, 2008

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, it was going to be an interesting day. I had the opportunity to speak with a few very gifted filmmakers, experience the Park City snow first hand and see a few movies that caught me completely off guard.

The day began, as I explained before, with a bit of dizziness and headaching that almost forced me to miss my morning interview with The Wackness director Jonathan Levine. Had I allowed that to get the best of me, I would have been failing those 4 faithful readers who have been tracking my Sundance antics. So with a quick breakfast and a little bit of running, I made it to the interview and had a very fun conversation with a very passionate and talented filmmaker. You may not know about Jonathan Levine yet, but with All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Wackness due to hit theaters this year, you will know him soon. (Click Here to Read the Interview with Jonathan Levine)

After that it was a little break and a trip down to Main Street. As you can see from the photo above, it began to snow like nothing I had seen so far. It is beautiful. Not that I’ve never seen snow before — I’m from Ohio, where is snows every March just to spite us. In Park City, it is a constant, soft snowfall that doesn’t feel like much, but before you know it you are up to your knees in soft powder. Impressive, to say the least.

After ogling the snow a bit I headed down to do a couple interviews for the film Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?. I started with a 1:2 interview with producer Stacy Offman and writer/producer Jeremy Chilnick. I followed that up with a conversation with Morgan Spurlock himself, who was a joy to talk to. Spurlock’s film is, as I said in my review, one of those films that could be important as we near the November elections — that is, if the right people go and see it.

Once the Spurlock interview was over, I decided to take in a flick or two — I mean hey, this is the damn Sundance Film Festival, is it not? I caught the very low-budget but well made Baghead from the Brothers Duplass. It was as indie as they come, but very creative and ultimately very funny.

After another break that allowed me to transcribe my interview with Jonathan Levine, I was treated to the surprise film of the festival: Assassination of a High School President. This film noir version of a John Hughes high school comedy was incredibly smart, sexy and immensely entertaining. I had my doubts going in, as the film was being billed as more of a star vehicle for Mischa Barton (a frightening thought, I know), but in the end it was an amazing experience. Think Brick, but a bit more invested in comedy. It was less noir more Hughes, but it worked beautifully. You can read my full review by clicking the link below.

Moving on to today’s activities, it is time to cram in as many movies as possible in the last 3 days of the fest. First up is Sugar, which is getting a lot of buzz from other members of the press — hopefully it was worth waking up at 7:20am. Later in the afternoon it will be on to review Hamlet 2, a film purchased earlier in the week by Focus Features for a whopping $10 million — making it the largest purchase in the history of Sundance. I am excited to finally see what all the fuss is about. After that it is Bottle Shock, which coincidentally stars Transformers hottie Rachel Taylor alongside Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Freddie Rodriguez. And last but certainly not least I will take in a late screening of The Year of Getting to Know Us, Jimmy Fallon’s foray into the world of dramatic action — or so we can only estimate. It looks to be a busy day and baring any last minute interviews, it should be filled completely with films and reviews.

Speaking of reviews, take a gander at the full list (currently at 22 reviews) below. Also, I have left a few photos at the bottom of the page from my travels.

– Assassination of a High School President – A+
– Quentin Tarantino Presents Hell Ride – B-
– Adventures of Power – D+
– American Teen – A+
– Funny Games – D
– The Escapist – C
– Choke – B
– Towelhead – A
– Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? – A
– Downloading Nancy – F
– Phoebe in Wonderland – C
– Incendiary – B
– Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson – A
– Sunshine Cleaning – B+
– Smart People – A
– Be Kind Rewind – A
– The Merry Gentleman – C+
– Transsiberian – B
– The Great Buck Howard – B
– Blind Date – D+
– The Wackness – A
– The Yellow Handkerchief – B
– In Bruges – A-

Me with Director Morgan Spurlock

Me with Wackness Director Jonathan Levine

Keep an eye on our Sundance 2008 Homepage for more from Park City.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)