AMCi: The Sundance Diaries - Day Six. The Final Countdown

By Alicia Malone January 29, 2015

Goals. It’s important to have goals. When you have nothing left in the tank, often it’s your goals that will pull you through. And so, on day six, Amirose and I set ourselves the goal of making it to 20 films. 20 films watched at Sundance over six days. That’s a whole lot of sitting.

So, our first film for the day, and number 17, was ‘I Smile Back’ starring Sarah Silverman. This was a film we’d been hearing a lot about, with our film reporter colleagues raving about Silverman’s performance. I’ll admit, when I first read the synopsis for the film and saw she was the star, I’d assumed it was a comedy. But, it was definitely not.

In ‘I Smile Back’, Sarah Silverman stars as a mother battling addiction and depression. She loves her kids, she loves her husband, but she can’t help the compulsion to ruin it all. She does drugs, she sleeps with other men, she drinks, and acts out. This is a very heavy drama, made powerful by Silverman. She is absolutely incredible in this role. I was so impressed. I forgot it was Sarah Silverman within minutes of watching her, she was so real, so raw, you felt for her character, willing her to make better choices while feeling the gravity of why she couldn’t. It may be too early to say this, but I feel Sarah deserves an Oscar nomination for this role. She is definitely the performance to beat over the next year.

For movie number 18, Amirose and I split up. I was keen to see Joe Swanberg’s ’Digging For Fire’, which she saw the previous night, and she wanted to see the horror film ‘The Witch’, which I didn’t want to because, you know, HORROR.

Swanberg is the director behind ‘Happy Christmas’ and ‘Drinking Buddies’, and he’s known for relatable stories about relationships, often mostly improvised which adds to the realism. In ‘Digging For Fire’, he explores marriage. Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt play a husband and wife who split for the weekend and have different adventures. He has his buddies over (including the delightful Sam Rockwell) and becomes obsessed with digging up the garden, after finding a bone and a gun buried there. She drops their kid at her parents place, and wants to have a night out with a girlfriend. Perhaps because this film is more about marriage, I didn’t relate to the movie as much as I did with ‘Drinking Buddies’, which focused on growing up and whether men and women can be friends. But I still found this film very enjoyable to watch, I liked the characters because they felt real, and it moved along at a nice pace. The standout though, was Jude Swanberg, Joe’s real-life three-year old son, who is just the cutest little button on-screen! I want to squeeze his cheeks!

With only two more films to reach our goal, Amirose and I were determined, so we went to stand in line to see ‘Results’, starring Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders. Walking into the tent, our hearts dropped when we saw the massive queue. “There’s no way we’re going to get in!” said Amirose, and we actually almost didn’t. Five minutes before the start-time, most of the people had gone in, all that wad left was one guy, Amirose and me, when suddenly the usher listened to his radio and then said, “Ok, three more seats left!” And we went in!

‘Results’ is directed by mumblecore staple Andrew Bujalski, and centers on some personal trainers working at a gym. It’s a rom com in a way, and it’s lovely to see Guy Pearce back in a comedy again and with a thick Aussie accent. The film itself was quite strange, and I’m still processing whether I liked it a lot or just a little. There were some moments I thought were very clever, and hilarious… then others I just didn’t get. But most of the critics in the screening loved it, and it’s been picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures, so it just went over my tired head.

Our final movie, number 20 was the political sexy drama, ‘Zipper’. As Amirose and I sat in our seats, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment at achieving our goal. Thanks to a good dose of delirium after days of no sleep, not much food, and lots of movies, we started to refer to ourselves as “heroes” - modern day superheroes, Sundance warriors, saving the world by sitting. Yes, we were tired.

‘Zipper’ has a great premise. Patrick Wilson stars as a hot-shot lawyer who is the perfect candidate to run for senator - good looking, married, squeaky clean - except he is hiding a secret; he’s a sex addict who frequents an escort service on the regular. Great start, but unfortunately, the movie delivers nothing new. It doesn’t delve enough into the addiction to be interesting, you don’t feel for his character at all, and the script is quite ridiculous. Lena Headey does her best as his strong wife who doesn’t want to be a victim, but ultimately the movie is forgettable.

But our Sundance trip is anything but forgettable! 20 films, six days, and 2 exhausted film reporters. We hope you have enjoyed all of our reviews, which you can see on our YouTube page (especially the wacky ones when we started to lose our minds!) Sundance Film Festival 2015 - we came, we saw, we crushed it! Until next year…

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