With our minds wrought with weariness and our muscles aching from waking endless circles in the snow, we journeyed headfirst into week two of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

The second Monday of the festival isn’t just notable for it’s the toll it takes on the human psyche, it is also the time where many of the Hollywood insiders and career critics leave the festival and make room for a more rambunctious and yet to be jaded group of fresh meat. The raucous roar of applause leading into the midnight screening of Palm Springs is as good an example of any—though it is possible that the screams and cheers may have been related to Nathan and Ty’s first big screen appearance at Sundance (more on that later).

It was a day that gave us a smattering of amazing films, while at the same time forcing us to long for the glory days when we could still get away with sleeping until 2pm. But alas! The hunger within us is hard to satiate, and no amount of heavy-handed dysfunctional love stories/family dramas were going to hold us back!

Ty’s Pick of the Day

the father

Florian Zeller’s English adaptation of his esteemed stage play the Father, is definitely on my short list for best of the fest. As we learned on opening night, it’s really hard for people to break out of their chosen comfort medium, and to break into the world of Directing in film. The difference in this case is that Zeller made sure he had the all the ingredients needed to produce an Oscar well before he got into preproduction. The result was pure gold.

Florian Zeller had already established himself a highly esteemed and accomplished theater director, so there was not much to worry about when it came to working with actors. Though his script was originally in French, he got arguably one of the best adaptive screenwriters (Christopher Hampton) to translate and write it. It also didn’t hurt that his entire cast list reads like a nomination list for any given film award ceremony from the bast decade (Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell).

All of these ingredients combined with fantastic set designs and one of the best Q&A answers I’ve ever seen all make this one film you’re not going to want to miss. The byline of this film does an utterly pretentious job of hyping this film up as an Oscar contender, but just this once dear readers, you can believe the hype.

Best thing Nathan Saw Today:
Palm Springs — Still 1
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti appear in Palm Springs by Max Barbakow, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Chris Willard.

Ahhhh! There is nothing like the feeling of seeing an absolute smash hit at Sundance and having no idea it is coming.
That film came tonight and it was Palm Springs. The film stars Andy Samberg and Christin Miloti in a romantic comedy like you have never seen before. The film is hilarious, insane, and somehow so damn sweet.
You heard it here first. This will be a huge hit. It even broke the record for most money ever spent for an acquisition when Hulu/Neon acquired it for 17.5 million and 69 cents…. Yup!
My biggest piece of advice is avoid any trailer or any knowledge of the plot and go in with little to no knowledge of anything. Trust me.

Ty’s Moment of the Day

When it happened, I had thought that my mind was playing tricks on me. I didn’t have anyway of verifying the event with Nathan as he was in a separate screening, and it wasn’t until about midnight that I got word from Nathan that my suspicions had been affirmed—we had made it into the festival recap video on the big screen at Eccles.

Now I know this may seem like no big deal, but this writer has been a fan of Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins for as long as he can remember, and today it was that same writer whose face was shown along with his good pal Nathan’s just moments before the world premiere of Hopkins’ new film. Sure, we were only nodding our heads along to the sweet siren song from one Rufus Wainwright, but it was our first closeup, and perhaps the only time we’ll ever be on the Eccles stage and screen. Is it too late to start a career in acting?

Nathan’s Sundance Moment of the Day:
One of my all time favorite Sundance movies was 2012 Beasts of the Southern Wild. It was a movie that came out of nowhere and was absolute beauty caught on film.
Director Benh Zeitlin returns 8 years later with his second feature Wendy and his incredibly creative, personal touch on the tale of Peter Pan made me smile for 2 hours straight.
My expectations were through the roof for this film. My anticipation goes back almost 5 years, so the fact that I came out satisfied marks the brilliance of this follow up.

 

Ty’s Lasting Though of the Day

At this moment is is by sure force of will that I can stay awake, and I am left with but two lingering thoughts about the events of today. The first is how utterly magnificent a film can be when you treat the set and landscape as a character (The Father, The Night House, The Nest).

I also can’t help but wonder if a five movie a day schedule will have irreparable damage on our brains. The brain is often compared to a muscle in dire need of exercise, but sometimes too much exercise can be harmful. The human body’s limbic system can only take so much abuse, and while I loved films like The Nest and Into the Deep, they can sometimes feel like a slow burning stranglehold and leave a trail of physical and emotional exhaustion in their wake. So for those of you about to kick off your own week or even a Netflix binge, don’t forget to let your mind process and assimilate before diving back in!

Nathan’s Lasting Thought of the Day:
The Sundance Film Festival does so much. While most of the time Ty and I focus on the narrative films and what is funny or intense or “Oscar worthy,” we sometimes forget that Sundance provides a platform for so many important issues.
on the record
This morning I watched the documentary On The Record, which chronicled the many sexual assault allegations against Def Jam’s Russell Simmons.
The doc was haunting, infuriating, and so important. These women are heroes in their own right and they risked everything to let every survivor out there know that it is never the right decision to stay silent.

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Ty Cooper lives in Asia and spends most his time drifting through the streets of Taiwan imagining he is Shotaro Kaneda in Akira. Once a year he takes on the unyielding snow storm that is Sundance and attempts to capture a glimpse at what the upcoming year in film has to offer. Ty first started writing for HeyUGuys after SXSW in 2010.