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Sundance 2006 Report - Part 3/3

Sunday started out with our first and only documentary of the festival. Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon is about the ideological battle for control of the local school board that played out in a small timber town a few years ago. It was a classic progressive versus conservative war with the students caught in the crossfire. The docu itself is very well done and seems to be quite even-handed. During the Q&A, director Peter Richardson (a graduate of Philomath High School) successfully evaded questions about his personal take on the situation. Overall, a fascinating subject handled deftly by an interesting, well-spoken director. Thumbs up.

Clear Cut also screened with a documentary short film called "Preacher with an Unknown God," an entertaining look at performance artist Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as they invade Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and the Republican National Convention. Good times.

After that was a screening of Somebodies, a vaguely Clerks-esque look at the life of a black college student in Athens, Georgia, complete with the requisite slacker friends and eccentric family members. And he listens to R.E.M.! And eats at Weaver D's! While a little uneven, it had enough wit and charm to keep us entertained, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other films we saw. Writer/director/star Hadjii and most the cast filled the row in front of us at the screening, but we couldn't stay for the Q&A because we only had an hour to eat before our next screening and hadn't really had anything but donuts and Luna bars to eat all day.

Next up was Off the Black, a touching drama with a baseball theme. Nick Nolte (looking decidedly unwell) plays an aging, alcoholic umpire who develops a reluctant surrogate father-son bond with a high school ball player. Nolte's terrific, but pretty hard to watch (seriously, I was expecting him to drop dead of a heart attack in every scene). Trevor Morgan's performance as the high schooler is out of this world, and when the director called him onstage at the Q&A the audience in our screening went absolutely wild.

Which brings us to the last film of my Sundance trip, Thank You For Smoking. You may have heard of this one, as a certain snafu with one of Katie Holmes' sex scenes has been making headlines all week. Don't let the prospect of a Katie Holmes sex scene put you off, though. Okay, yes, she's stomach turning, and I'm sure we'd all be happy if Jason Reitman didn't bother restoring the missing footage. That said, it's a fantastically cynical, hilarious film (based on a Christopher Buckley novel) with a stellar cast. Aaron Eckhart. Maria Bello. Adam Brody. Sam Elliott. Rob Lowe. William H. Macy. Need I say more? Okay, yes, Katie Holmes is in it too, but not that much. Interestingly, the Sundance description completely left her out of the cast list, which I can't imagine is an accidental oversight. I'm just saying. Anyway, ya'll should all see this movie, and fortunately it's scheduled for a March release so you'll all have the opportunity. Seriously, Rob Lowe wears a KIMONO. That alone is worth the price admission.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC)
[M here again. Yes, I need to get a livejournal.]

I'm actually pretty sure we saw the 12 seconds of Katie in flagrante--apparently it was the print they had up in Park City (or, as we locals call it, the PC. Okay, actually we don't) that was missing the footage. I think it was the wide shot with the camera panning over the three rooms that was inadvertently cut on their print, but that was in ours after all. The good news for everyone else, then, is that you see Katie Holmes feigning sex--just like with Tom Cruise!--from far, far away. Also? Kimono. I'm just sayin'.

Am trying to avoid a mad crush on Trevor Morgan, who was truly brilliant and who is truly 19. Ooof. He is somehow completing the unholy troika of Crushing on Shaggy Dudes with Prominent Noses that also includes SNL's Andy Samberg and Daniel Vosovic from Project Runway. It's a thing.

Off to see Ryan Gosling try to convince me he's a junior high school teacher instead of a 25-year-old actor!
Jan. 27th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
As I was getting on the plane Monday night the two women in front of me were saying that they saw the Ryan Gosling movie and that he gave an Oscar worthy performance. Umm . . .let's just say that I'll be curious to see what you think. ;)

Jan. 27th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC)
Dude, what is it with people putting Katie Holmes in otherwise stellar films? Pieces of April. Wonder Boys. Someone please make it stop. I'll sit through just about anything for Patty Clarkson or Frances McDormand, but she nearly drove me over the edge on both occasions.

Bah. Bah, I say.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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