Reviewing and concluding
If you’ve read my last post, you will probably want to hear the conclusion to my dramatic evening. It’s so not Hollywood. I filed a police report. No one ever found my wallet. Boo hoo. But, something came out of this that I could not have predicted. I haven’t cried in a long time. Losing something you really need is hard. Losing something that identifies you as a citizen is especially difficult. But, what I have not been telling you is that while all of this craziness with my wallet was happening, my husband has been calling me every couple of hours with an update on my 13 year-old dog, who is trying his hardest to die while I am thousands of miles away. I’ve felt like a total fool crying over a stupid wallet while on the phone with distant bank customer service reps. But, that little loss kept reminding me of the bigger one soon to come. It’s my darned old best pal that imagine as gone as gone can be. Into the ether. Disappeared while I wasn’t looking, just like that other thing. I don’t want this to devolve into some eulogy for a pet none of you have ever met. But, suffice to say, if you sat down to write the most dramatic trip to a film festival you could imagine, only Tom Cruise with a dirty bomb is missing from my version. Everyone here is suggesting that I write a screenplay about this nutso trip. Not sure about that.
On to the important stuff. I’ve gotten to meet my not so secret idols, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. Last night, I sat next to them at a screening of the taciturn family drama Ballast and today, at the screening of their new film, Sugar, Fleck recognized me and said hi. Like a fool, I wished them luck with the screening, feeling too shy to engage them in a conversation. Luck? Anyone want to be my social skills coach?
Ballast, Dir. Lance Hammer
I happen to like slow, patient movies where the plight of the characters is demonstrated by their surroundings, the things they own or don’t own, the colors of the rooms they inhabit, they way they move through that space, etc… So, Ballast’s lethargic pace and sparse dialog didn’t bother me. This simple story about complex people (A single mom and her troubled son reconnect with the boy’s estranged uncle after the boy’s dad kills himself) would have been disingenuous if told in your typical indie imprint fashion and I was thankful that the characters and their relationships were treated with the delicacy and decency that is only afforded when Warner Brothers doesn’t have its money on the line. Therefore, sadly, don’t look for Ballast at your local art house any time soon. Though the audience response was overwhelmingly positive (I wouldn’t be surprised if it got best dramatic somethingorother), this film is too ponderous and slow for any distributor to pick up for theatrical release (the complete lack of soundtrack certainly won’t help its chances). I’m guessing, however, that the Sundance channel will probably find room for it in their schedule and, if you catch it on TV on night, you should take the time to immerse yourself in its lonely landscapes.
Sugar, Dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
This is a story I’ve been wanting to hear for a long time: how a poor young ball player from Central America gets to the U.S. major leagues. The Fleck/Boden team nail it with their story of Sugar Santos, a talented kid from the Dominican Republic with some problems controlling his emotions on the mound. At the onset, we find him in the Kansas City Royals recruitment camp near his home in the DR, self-assured and full of glimmer as his chances of getting picked to make the move to America heat up. Though the trajectory of this film is none too surprising- Sugar’s star rises and sets prematurely- his struggle is nonetheless compelling. Though he makes it to the promised land, America is prepared to eat him up and then spit him out when he ceases to be of use, as it has done with so many immigrants before Sugar. Even the good Christian family he boards with in rural Iowa doesn’t hesitate to trash him when he doesn’t live up to their expectations as rabid fans of their small town minor league team. But, as any good sports movie does, Sugar in the end redeems our hero and his diehard determination to make it in America on his own terms. HBO funded this pic, which would probably not otherwise have found funding because it’s mostly in Spanish. I know, isn’t it ironic?
Tomorrow is my last day in Park City. I hope to be able to write one last post before I hop on the plane. Thanks for reading.