I did not see Robert Redford at Sundance. I saw Saturday Night Live's Rachel Dratch, on a bus. I tried to listen to her conversation, but she didn’t seem to have much to say. Something about going to Swag Village to nab herself a free cell phone. I wanted to remind the original "Debbie Downer" that only the A-listers get the good ones with the Harry Winston diamond-encrusted cases. Mwah, mwah, mwah.
The only other “stars” I saw were unknown actors from the films, who would get up during the Q&A’s afterwards and go on about how much fun it was to work without food or pay. I imagine most walked off with a new agent promising to land them a real movie role with a nice green screen to co-star against, a trainer, and a private catering truck serving meals from The Zone.
Though Jake Gyllenhaal was nowhere in sight, I did see Maggie Gyllenhaal in a junkie movie. Every film I saw had at least one junkie in it. The junkie doesn’t have to be the hero, but it is important that you learn some new bit of junkie business in each moviegoing experience so you know for sure this is art you’re watching, folks. I feel quite confident, for example, that I could find a good vein in my thigh if ever I got tired of snorting my heroin, or smoking it like a common crack whore.
Full frontal nudity is another hallmark of filmic excellence, especially among ugly people. The very first film I saw opened with a young girl fellating a fat Mexican guy. The “disturbing images” the programming guy mentioned in his giddy introduction turned out to mean uncut wee-wees shot in extreme close-up. Though I didn’t keep a tally at subsequent screenings, I’m certain I haven’t seen so much male genitalia since my time in the Marines. Hot lesbian sex was also very in this year, since the only romantic comedy I saw might have been written by Woody Allen if not for all the girl-on-girl action.
Cute, but hardly worth waiting in the ticket line for two pre-dawn hours in the snow. Judging from the crowds standing knee deep in slush outside the theaters, day and night, it was as though Jesus himself was rumored to make his memorable screen debut here at Sundance. Either him or Justin Timberlake, who did in fact appear in his first movie role as, you guessed it, a junkie.
When I told my manager I was going to Sundance, she warned me it was a big frat party in the snow. She urged me to buy some serious rubber boots and gave me my lawyer’s cell phone number. He was going, of course, and I might need to make a deal right there on Main Street. I didn’t. Nor did I bring home a free cell phone, just a high fever and a case of bronchitis.
There was one movie I liked so much I could have written it, about a dysfunctional family that enters their overweight daughter in a beauty contest. It sold for ten million bucks. I ran into the producer outside, whose name I recgonized as someone who recently passed on my script. "Hey, big guy, don't you want to come back next year?" I wanted to flag him down and inquire, fluttering my lashes against the falling snow. He'd then invite me for hot chocolate back at the chalet, where he'd quickly admit the error of his ways and propose we make movie magic together at once. We'd recount this story over and over for a future Sundance audience. But I didn't want anyone to cut in front of me in line for the next junkie movie, so I just stared straight ahead and, like my old friend Debbie Downer, pretended I was nobody. It really wasn't so hard. Mwah, mwah, mwah.