[One day, I will make it to Sundance. Until then, Fred is my eyes and ears there - LYT]
This was the third Sundance Film Festival I attended, and frankly I don't know what took me so long. If there had been a video game where you could attend six movies a day, meet filmmakers and make friends with film lovers the world over while waiting in line, I would have played that game many times by now. But Sundance is real, and it's existed for decades, so I have a lot of catching up to do.
As press covering the Sundance Film Festival, I get the best of all Sundance experiences. My favorite part truly is making friends in the hour-long line queues for screenings, but that won't help you if you weren't there. Instead, the movie screenings, filmmakers and talent I get to interview, and parties I get invited to will provide you a news fix. Here are the top 10 most notable things about Sundance 2013.
10. Cops Afield.
The films of Quentin Dupieux are abstract and absurd, but they're still genre because they involve killer tires or worlds where clocks strike 7:60. So the prospect of a new movie from the director of Rubber and Wrong was a Sundance must-see for me, especially because it was only half a movie. Dupieux is still working on this episodic story, so Sundance screened the first three chapters, about 45 minutes' worth.
Wrong Cops takes place in a future in which the crime rate has dropped so low that the police are bored and angry enough to make their own trouble. It's a brilliant premise, but I found it a heartbreaking disappointment. Gone is the absurdity or meta commentary, replaced by unfunny screaming and cheap violence. I suspect Luke will like it more because it's more in line with the "Tim and Eric" type of uncomfortable, awkward humor (it costars Eric Wareheim, alongside the likes of Ray Wise and Marilyn Manson)...even though Dupieux hates that label.
9. Yes to S-VHS.
V/H/S was a found-footage anthology horror movie that premiered at Sundance last year, from producers Bloody Disgusting. This is the sequel, and except for the name it has nothing to do with the short-lived, slightly higher-grade analog tape format of the '90s. The movie itself, however, steps up the found-footage shorts exponentially. S-VHS covers more subgenres of horror, including zombies, aliens and cults, and more importantly the camera informs the stories, rather than building a story around a fixed camera. It's nice to see our online friends do well. S-VHS went over like gangbusters at midnight screenings and we're sure to see this hit theaters or VOD this year.
8. Old Boy, New Tricks.
The first American film from Oldboy director Park Chan-wook was approached with trepidation. Could he maintain his vision in the Hollywood studio system, even if it is the Searchlight arm of Fox? The answer was a resounding yes: Stoker is phenomenal. Mia Wasikowska stars as India Stoker, whose father dies and whose uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to visit his niece and sister-in-law Evie (Nicole Kidman). It's about family secrets and violence, but what makes Stoker so interesting is Park's study of subtle behavior. Every scene has something interesting happening in it.
I saw Stoker at 9 a.m. after seeing a midnight movie the night before, and it totally kept me awake. The script by Wentworth Miller wasn't bad either - there are some awesome kills, but the best parts are the images and the magnitude of what they mean. The closeup of India's pencil sharpener makes it the deadliest weapon, and the brushing of Evie's hair dissolves into a grassy field. You'll never look at hair or pencils the same way again.
7. Bodyslam Buffet.
Now what is WWE doing at an independent movie festival? They make big movies about big guys kicking ass, right? Well, they've picked up movies from film festivals before; last year's The Day was discovered in Toronto. So at Sundance, WWE Studios invited a select group of reporters, really only five or six, to dinner at a sushi restaurant on Main Street, and I was one of them! I had sake with WWE Studios president Michael Luisi and talked about my favorite WWE films, including That's What I Am and No Holds Barred, which WWE just released on DVD.
Luisi also confirmed the news about Hornswoggle in a Leprechaun reboot and an animated Scooby-Doo movie where the gang solves a mystery at WrestleMania! Unfortunately, they have not planned WrestleMania XXX far enough in advance to base the 2014 release on the actual fight card, but it will have Vince McMahon, John Cena and other superstars voicing their animated likenesses.
6. Shrim, Shrim, Sala Bim!
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are no strangers to Sundance. Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie premiered at Sundance last year, and one year later I still can't forget shrim (they also starred in the indie movie The Comedy). This year, Wareheim was in Park City as part of the cast of Wrong Cops. When I saw him at the premiere, I was tempted to yell, "Shrim!" but I limited my shrimming to a tweet. During an interview, Wareheim confirmed there would be no more shrim, but there are two new Tim and Eric shows coming to Adult Swim.
"There's only one shrim and we did it," Wareheim said. "It's an untouchable thing. No, shrim is the last time we will ever do the doodoo because I feel like it's the biggest poop joke ever. We're tired of poop. We have two shows on Adult Swim. Tim and Eric Go to the Moon is a six episode sci-fi series, similar to Wrong Cops in a way. It's told in 15 minute chunks. We also have a show called Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories which is a short film Twilight Zone series. We're doing 10 of those. Each episode will be a fucked-up little short."
They are shooting Bedtime Stories in February, and the first one will involve the characters from their Absolut Vodka commercials. "It's a few of the characters from the Absolut Vodka guys. Zach Galfianakis. We wore the wigs. It's an episode of that. We go to a haunted house. we have to live there for the rest of our lives for 1000 dollars. That's basically the first we're going to shoot."