Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sundancin', Day Three

This morning I awoke to my father yelling, “Una, get your bitch ass out of bed!” (I can only hope this was an homage to my liberal use of the word ‘bitch’ in yesterday’s post).

We had to get up early to make our first screening of the day, “The Good Life” at 8:30 am. I had joked earlier that I hoped it wasn’t a downer, because to see a depressing film before breakfast would set a maudlin tone for the day. Well. Let’s have a look at the film’s description in the Sundance Guide:

“Jason Prayer (Mark Webber) works two jobs, struggles with his uncaring family, is tortured by a bully, and in general is quietly suffocating in the provincial insularity of his town … But when he is courted by a mysterious stranger (Zooey Deschanel), his desperate life takes a turn. As a response to the lessons of Capra-corn in It’s a Wonderful Life … Berra offers a ray of light in these dark times.”

Sounds uplifting, right? Uh, no. If Frank Capra saw this movie, he would shoot himself in the face, it’s that depressing. The opening sequence implies that our main character, after describing in detail via voice-over the physiological effects of a bullet entering a human head, shoots himself in a crowded pep rally, and then we get to watch all of the terrible events that drive him to such an act. I’ll admit that the end of the film has a little twist, but for two hours, you’re basically watching It’s a Shitty Life, Definitely Not Worth Living. I don’t mean to sound as though I won’t watch bleak films, but there’s bleak and then there’s the kind of film where they might as well hand out vodka and sleeping pills at the concession. I personally prefer the former, at least before noon.

Side note: Dad is obsessed with a game on his BlackBerry called ‘Brick Breaker’. It’s kind of like Tetris, and he plays it any time we have, like, five seconds to spare. He sheepishly admitted to me that he lost while playing one-handed at the urinal. I may have to stage an intervention.

This afternoon the gloom of the morning was completely lifted by an amazing, touching, inspiring documentary called “Hear and Now” by Irene Taylor-Brodsky. The filmmaker tells the story of her two parents, both deaf since birth, who, at age 65, decide to have surgery to restore their hearing. The parents, Sally and Paul Taylor, are incredible characters, both extremely vibrant, smart, and engaging, and their love for one another forms a beautiful framework for the story. I don’t really cry at movies, but I smiled through most of it, the only exception being five minutes of graphic surgery footage. The great thing about Sundance is that after the screening the filmmaker is often on hand to answer questions. In this case, Ms. Taylor-Brodsky brought both of her parents to the stage, and we gave them a standing ovation.

We had some time to bide before dinner, so Dad and I tried on giant fur hats at a local clothing store (FYI all clothes in Park City are made from leather or fur. Vegans beware!). We then wound our way to Zoom, an upscale Park City eatery where we were meeting Ken Brecher and Cara Mertes of Sundance as well as a number of World Filmmakers. I have to digress here to give a little ode to Ken Brecher, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute. Ken is like sunshine. He is so warm and happy and funny and interesting, and he makes everyone around him feel radiant. He is also my biggest fan. I met him for the first time at my father’s urging, to show him a (now, in retrospect, cringe-inducing) musical screenplay that I had written for my senior thesis at Wesleyan. We met for one hour, tops, but soon afterwards he became a reference on my resume. Ken and I just adored one another from the start, and ever since I’ve been lucky to call him a friend and a mentor. Also, he’s been reading this blog, and I wanted to finally say something NICE for a change! Whew! Glad that’s over. On to more bitching.

Dinner was lovely, or would have been, had I not been doubled over in pain. The truth is, a gas bubble had lodged itself in my stomach and was slowly expanding so as to force me to bend at a 90-degree angle. I want to be clear that this was simply a gas bubble; I was not expelling anything. Say the word gas and people just think farting, but this was not the case. The gas bubble felt like someone was slowly twisting a scalpel into my ribs from the inside. I should have been so lucky as to have been farting, though perhaps I would have made a less savory dinner companion.

So here I am, bloated and blogging. Perhaps the title for an autobiography??

Good night.

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