Sunday, January 22, 2006
I have to say, some of the best films I ended up seeing this year were through the on-demand service in our hotel room...aside from "Ryan," which was at Sundance last year and went on to win the Oscar for best animated short (see my1/05 post on this film), I'd recommend "Right Place" and a film called something like "Employee of the Month" by a guy who's directed Badly Drawn Boy music video (I'll try to find the exact name and add a link).
It's good to be home. I'll miss having picturesque snow-covered mountains as a backdrop - but it's good to be in my house, with Cosmo, and a belly full of food from City Lights of China.
Overheard in Park City, Utah
-fan or paparazzi screaming actor Aaron Eckhart's name as he ducked into a building on Main Street
"So you basically cut up 2 scenes. It's still 2 scenes. I'm just saying, that's not how it's done. That's now how they do it on Scrubs or Sex in the City. I'm just saying."
-woman on her cell phone, on the shuttle between theaters
"The filmmaker is my nephew."
-woman on the shuttle
"Hello? I'm not in the office right now. So I'm just confirming, you'll be on at 8:30 tomorrow. Park City TV. 8:30. I haven't seen the film yet but I heard it's fabulous. Don't tell me how it ends! I heard it's fabulous. 8:30."
-publicist on the shuttle
"We drove 14 hours to get here, and we still haven't seen a film."
-2 guys on the shuttle
"Las Vegas porn, baby!"
-drunken guys on Main Street circa 11:30pm
-director Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait just before the premiere of his feature film, "Stay"
P.S. Watch "One Sung Hero," the short film about karaoke I mentioned the other day, and/or learn more about it at its official site.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Kung-fu for your phone, artistic vision & raw fish
The karoake film I mentioned yesterday is still the best thing I've seen - it's been really hard to get tickets to things. On Thursday night my husband and I waited in line for 2 hours to get into the opening night screening, "Friends with Money" - a film in which Jennifer Aniston, ironically, plays the friend without money. The friends with money are played by Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener. I know this from the festival guide, not because I saw the movie - no one in the wait list line got in, which frustrates me because someone later told me there were a lot of empty seats. But when we couldn't get in, we got sushi at a place called the Blind Dog Cafe, where last year we put Cosmo's photo on the wall full of dog photos - and it was still there. So we cooed, and ate delicious raw fish, and drank martinis, and all was well.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Hello from Sundance
So, hello from Park City, Utah, and specifically from the bank of laptops at the Film Center on Main Street. I passed Ted Sarandos, chief content officer from Netflix, on the street on the way here, and then I passed the director of "One Sung Hero," a short film about a woman spreading the karaoke gospel, which I saw this morning. It was funny and bright and much more enjoyable than the film about Manhattan buildings covered in images of naked women kissing each other's breasts while planes fly into the twin towers and then every other building in the city - yes, seriously. As offended as I was - I couldn't stop thinking about people who lost loved ones on 9/11 - I stop short of condemning it... to me, it is an irresponsible abuse of imagery that means so much to so many people, but maybe it said something else to others in the audience, and better for the artistic community to engage with those and other images than to let them be exclusively defined by mainstream news outlets and Hollywood. Maybe this film being out there means there will be another one that will - for me - succeed.
That's what's so fulfilling about being at Sundance - you see good stuff, you see bad stuff, but what's really exciting is just being in an environment honoring so many different kinds of artistic vision...the dark, the light, the meaningful, the absurd...I know people say the festival's sold out to Hollywood, but it doesn't feel that way "on the ground"...it just feels like being surrounded by the fruits of so much artistic labor, like being a kid in a candy store full of artistic expression. I'm not squeezing a 2-hour movie into the rest of my life - for a few days, I get to indulge in seeing however many movies I want, and that is my life.
It actually makes me even more eager to attend an improv festival. I find myself missing my improv friends, wishing we could be performing - it's weird to be among so many performers and have to be a spectator only. In the Q&A after the shorts program this morning, one of the directors said her actors had improvised most of the film, and I got so excited.
More in the next few days if I can find my way back to a computer that, well, turns on.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Friday the 13th
Flight is supposed to be boarding
Huge mass of people crammed into a small chaotic gate area
Slow line snaking onto plane from gate area
Just before I step onto the plane they say overhead baggage compartments are full, so I need to check my small suitcase.
Sit on runway for a long time.
Catching up on reading for work
Trying not to be distracted by cheesy Hollywood movie playing, "In Her Shoes"
Give in about 10 minutes into the movie
It's not cheesy, it's great. Cameron Diaz's performance is amazing. Or maybe I'm just really ready for a distraction at this point.
Resist urge to order a beer; holding out for hotel bar.
10:40pm, or 8:40pm local time - arrive in Salt Lake City
Connecting flight to Burbank departs at 8:56
Sprint through airport
Flight has just pulled away from the gate
"There's a flight to Ontario in 10 minutes, though," the gate agent says.
My husband and I stare at him.
"Ontario, California," he clarifies. "It's close to Burbank."
We sprint back through the airport.
At the gate, a round, heavily made-up woman is looking something up on a computer for another passenger. 2 other gate agents stand nearby, doing nothing. We explain our plight. "You'll need to talk to her," they say, pointing at woman #1.
5 excruciating minutes of woman #1 not knowing how to work the computer and none of them making eye contact with us later, one of them says, "now, you needed help, right?"
Once onboard, I order a beer.
1:30am, or 10:30pm local time - arrive in Ontario, California
Lo and behold, our suitcases do not appear in baggage claim. After filing a claim with Delta, we go outside to catch a cab. There are none. There is not even a taxi stand. What kind of airport doesn't have a taxi stand? We finally find one, at the far end of the terminal, and wait 10 minutes while someone calls us a cab.
2:00am, or 11pm local time
Most Expensive Cab Ride Ever
The amount on the meter literally increases every 4 seconds as we zoom at God-knows-how-many-miles-an-hour down route 10 towards Pasadena. We point it out and the cab driver says, laughing as though we're making a joke, "Oh yeah, (ha ha), it increases every 30 seconds." "But it's increasing every 4 seconds, we say." "Ha, ha" he says.
$95 and 1 hour later, we arrive at our hotel in Pasadena
It is now 3:00am or - everybody now! - midnight local time.
In our room, we order a cheeseburger and fall asleep to the dulcet tones of Bill Maher on CNN.
Now it is 10:30am Saturday, local time.
The view out our hotel window is lush - tall delicate trees with yellow-green spindly leaves, big old dark trees, the outline of blue mountains in the distance, now obscured by pale gray skies (it's drizzling). Alejandro Escovedo plays on the clock radio and scrambled eggs with ketchup sit in my belly.
Saturday the 14th is looking a lot better than Friday the 13th.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I drive to work on the GW Parkway, along the Potomac River, and this morning it was so foggy that when I glanced over the river towards DC, all I saw was soupy blueness - no river, and no buildings, except for the bright white tip of the Washington Monument and the bright white top of the Lincoln Memorial. I wanted to take a picture so badly.
This weekend I head out of town for a week, first to the TV Press Tour, then on to Sundance. Unlike last year, when I went to Sundance and wrote nothing about it until I got home, this year I plan to blog about what it's like to be there in Park City, some of the films I'm seeing, etc. And this will be my first trip to Press Tour, so I'll be sure to share first impressions - I'll be on the sidelines, so my coverage isn't likely to be as rich with tacky celebrity details as the Washington Post's, but I'll do my best.
So stay tuned for "Multitudes Heads West: A Mini-Series": shorter than a Ken Burns film, but just as culturally significant. (Hmmm, I wonder what Ken Burns' blog would be like...)
Monday, January 09, 2006
to give birth to a dancing star." -nietzche
about 6 months ago i looked around at my life and realized, "hey, all that stuff that used to bother me isn't bothering me anymore."
somehow the stars had aligned - or i'd aligned them - bathing me in perspective that kept old worries and hurts at bay. my job wasn't awful anymore - i had reached a point in my organization that "fit," and i'd realized (finally) that so many of the woes that felt unique to my company were in fact universal (read: all companies are dysfunctional in some way). people who had pushed my buttons now pushed but got a different response - i'd finally internalized the mantra that what other people do is about them, not me. in improv, we try to identify a character's triggers - what makes her anxious, or angry, or calm - and i was identifying mine, learning how to prepare myself for situations likely to stress me out or bring me down.
i felt grateful, and relieved, and after a little while, a bit too smug. "ah, my 20s - glad i survived them. glad all that angst is behind me." (i have a habit of feeling like i'm a year older than i am, which currently means i think i'm 30 even though that's not the case until 2:45am on the first of may.) i found myself playing buddha with younger friends, the peaceful guru smiling down on tortured souls - "oh yes, that's a common feeling in one's 20s...(glad i'm done with it)."
then, lately, the stars have started spinning again. suddenly my dreams are loud, my subconscious clanging to get my attention. i'm dreaming of all-out screaming fights with my mother. last night i had a dream i've had before about being taken prisoner in a foreign land.
so here's the thing: the alignment of the stars 6 months ago wasn't coincidental. it had a little something to do with being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and with starting medication. which has stopped working. so now we're tinkering with me, the doctors and i, like trying to perfect a recipe - a little more salt, less sugar, bake longer.
it's a relief to share this, but slightly terrifying, too. when my doctor first said to me, last winter, "i think you may be struggling with anxiety and depression," it was like having gauze pulled away from my eyes, and my life since the age of 18 suddenly came into focus. i never would have come to that conclusion myself - i still had an image of depression as being curled up in the fetal position, unable to get out of bed in the morning, even though i knew people who were depressed and were not that way; i guess i assumed that's how they'd be without medication. and anxiety, in my mind, again meant the far end of the spectrum - dehibilitating panic attacks, etc. and yet, when my doctor said, "...anxiety and depression," i knew instantly it was right.
when i started taking medication, i asked my doctor, "how will i know if it's working?" he said i would feel like my old self, and i'd know. i was dubious but sure enough, after a few weeks, something clicked, and there was a lightness i hadn't felt in years. people commented on it. it makes me sad just writing this, to think of all those years stuck inside myself, not realizing how much my perspective was being skewed. i try to make peace with it by saying it was part of my journey in this world - it makes me more compassionate, and controversial though it may be, i think there is a way that depression lets you see certain truths about the world; unfortunately, it made me feel siezed by them.
having medication work, and then stop working, is what i imagine it would be like to be sent down to earth after being in heaven. maybe the universe recognizes when you get too comfortable.
in my dream last night about being taken prisoner, i remember i was more prepared than i'd been when i've had the dream before. i had a bag full of things that could help with my escape. i was confident, but scared. i knew i had accepted the risk of being captured when i decided to take the journey to this foreign place.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
i'm dropping my car off at the shop across the street from work.
patrick, the nice man who works there, is waiting for me to answer a question.
but i am transfixed by the TV -
my attention first caught by the sound of conan o'brien's voice
(i had such a crush on him back in college)
then snared by the sight
of martha stewart
with a head of dark brown hair.
"wow," i say to patrick.
"martha stewart has brown hair. what's next? the world is changing
too fast, i can't keep up."
he laughs. i give him my phone number. there is a giant pumpkin on the counter
covered in ballpoint-pen signatures, adorned with a