Gorging on independent film at Sundance can also mean enduring a fair number of rushed, unhealthy meals between screenings. On Sunday, I caught three entries in the dramatic competition in a row at the Racquet Club, a sports venue temporarily converted into a theater, its only source of food a subpar taco stand in the corner of the ticketing tent.
No eating in the theater, so I had to wolf down lukewarm tortillas and shredded chicken before the 11:30 a.m. world premiere of Flannel Pajamas. Director Jeff Lipsky’s meditative romantic drama chronicles the troubled relationship of a New York couple (Weeds’ Justin Kirk and Kinsey’s Julianne Nicholson, pictured). It was well-received, if a bit of a downer. The infinitely watchable up-and-comers Kirk and Nicholson were on hand to answer questions afterward.
Next up: Half Nelson, a small, superb film about a teacher(Ryan Gosling) caught in a compromising position by one of his students(16-year-old non-actor Shareeka Epps). Gosling’s performance is quiet,subtle, and enthralling, and Epps was as charming in the Q&A as shewas brilliant onscreen. Easily the best film I’ve seen so far.
I celebrated with a burrito.
After that it was back into the theater for In Between Days,a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted film about assimilation, theKorean immigrant experience, and good, old-fashioned, stomach-churningpuppy love. Bonus points for being named after a Cure song.
I returned to the Racquet Club on Monday for Quinceanera,another bilingual film centering on an uncomfortably evolvingcommunity. Director Emily Rios’ naturalistic portrayal of Magdalena, aMexican-American girl literally coming of age in the slowly gentrifyingEcho Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, features another strongperformance by a young actor in a competition film. I was thoroughlyenjoying the movie until one of the characters starting grilling tacos,thereby rendering the Snickers I’d snuck in woefully unsatisfying.
Best party food Righteous turkey sliders at the Variety Ten Directors to Watch party. Kudos to Half Nelson director Ryan Fleck for making that list and, wow, is this Kobe turkey?
Worst party food Chocolate fondue fountain at a WilliamMorris shindig. Come on, agent dudes, how can you serve Terrence Howardand Lea Thompson crumbled pretzels and mini-marshmallows on skewers?