Once again Sundance is upon us, and Nathan and I are suited up in our winter’s best, and ready for action (this time with a bit of a twist.) Instead of teasing you with the usual smattering of reviews, we’ve decided to pool our collective minds, and bring you our day-by-day recap of the annual fest. We’ll do our best to bring you our favorite moments from the event as we fight our way through the chaotic, and emotional world that is the Sundance Film Festival.
Now, the first day of the festival is always the slowest of the whole run. Most of the screenings don’t start until the late afternoon, and that means that we only had enough time to squeeze in two films. We started off with the new documentary from master film maker Alex Gibney called, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, a film about quirky character study of a women entrepreneur whose business went from a billions to bankruptcy in the blink of an eye.
Afterwards, we decided to cap things off with a selection from the US Dramatic Competition called, Native Son. The film, adapted from the acclaimed 1940 novel of the same name, tells the story of a young man whose new job for a wealthy upper-class family brings him on a collision course with the violent duality of society.
You know what rocks at Sundance? The documentaries! Too many times I get bogged down by seeing a hot new director or an actress I think I convince to fall in love with me that I fail to realize that the films that will live on in film history are the documentaries! Did you know four of the five nominees for the Academy Award for Best Documentary were at Sundance last year? Yup. So the first film I saw for this festival was The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. And Ty, I think you can write it down in permanent ink, 2020 Oscar nominee. It had everything you could want in a documentary: Insane interviews, more insane main character, amazing animation, incredible twists and a story so crazy it’s being made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Adam McKay. What a great start to Sundance Ty!
Well let’s not get to hasty with the Oscar predictions there bud. It’s only the first day of the festival, and there are still plenty of possible contenders left on this years lineup. As far as the best thing I saw today goes, I’m giving that prestigious honor to whoever was in charge of the title sequence for The Inventor. It used to be that you had to wait until a new Bond movie came out to see cutting-edge title sequences. Now, even documentaries are touting them!
This will be fun to point out for the readers this week. So many things happen in Park City that could never happen anywhere else and are the many reasons why Sundance is my favorite festival in the world. The moment today that I loved, was sitting down in Eccles Theater and noticing Master of None’s Lena Waithe just standing in the middle of the theater talking to her friend. Waithe has been everywhere literally everywhere this past year, including commercials, Ready Player One and more. She’s already become quite the rising star. But no one in the 1,500 seat theater came up and asked for a picture or a hug or anything. They just let her talk to her friend and enjoy the excitement that Sundance has to offer.
Ty’s Sundance Moment of the Day:
Well I must admit, when it comes to spotting stars in our annual round of Where’s Waldo: Sundance Edition, nobody has you beat. However, my favorite moment of the day had to be the first glimpse of our first Theater Loop bus as it crested around the bend to meet us at our shuttle stop. Stepping through those doors is the closest thing I’ll ever get a real life version of the Polar Express, and it really helped put me in the festival mood.
Nathan’s Lasting Thought of the Day:
Sometimes it is tough to be a movie critic. Native Son had a lot of buzz attached to it and I was quite excited. The director introduced the film and I wanted it to be great, The first hour I was transfixed, but the film’s most important scene, slightly missed the mark with me and I was left a little disappointed with where the film went. But this is Sundance, I want everything I see to be great and game changing. While Native Son might have underwhelmed me, there was still so much to enjoy, strong performances from Ashton Sanders and Margaret Qualley, incredible cinematography and some very powerful writing.
Ty’s Lasting Thought of the Day:
Today got off to quite a slow start, and the two films we saw today did nothing to ease my worries about this year’s festival programming. Both of the films from today were nothing short of a rich, visual feast, yet I can’t help but feeling less than satisfied with some of the narrative choices and tropes. There are still a lot of films left too see this year though, and maybe I should save my pessimistic musings for the latter half of the festival. Would I recommend these films to our readers? Absolutely! Are they best that this year has to offer? Only time will tell.