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January 14, 2009


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I'm trying to remember the last time Sundance showed a movie that I actually bothered to see. Not in a theater, just see, period. I literally can't think of a damn one.

Is Sundance even a festival anymore? It seems more like a media presence with an unusually open submissions policy than anything else, these days. It's certainly the only festival I know of with an associated clothing line.


Having seen a fine print of The Small Back Room some years ago, I guess I had nothing better to do for five minutes yesterday than answer Karina's question. Say, I do believe it may be the same five minutes I'm wasting here today! Gotta work on that.

Glenn Kenny

@md'a: Oh, don't be so tetchy. You know I love you—well, like you an awful lot—and that I'm largely fucking around.

A couple of years ago at Toronto during the festival, a journalist pal called and asked if I wanted to give her any quotes on a story she was doing wherein journalists complained about their hotel downgrades.(And boy, weren't THOSE the days?) I'll allow that the number of journalists skipping Sundance is a more legit story than that. Still, when I read "This is the first time in 15 years that...Chris Gore isn't going," I'm like, "Um, okay...Gee, why didn't I send out a press release when I skipped Sundance for medical reasons in '06?"

More compelling than the personal stories of the journalists not going is, I think, what this says about the festival overall. If the fest isn't somehow made more accommodating to the journalists for whom an idea of independent film means something real, it's going to be even more co-opted by "Entertainment Tonight" style coverage of the festival's attendant celebrity bullshit than it already is. Which could be kind of a shame.


I think your second graph in that 1:44 comment is spot on, Glenn. And I wonder if Redford, privately, wouldn't like the thing to just wither and fade.

That said, even though it was my own choice, I still feel like the kid who got mumps the night before going to camp.

don r. lewis

Oh Glenn...for a snark you sure have a fragile web-ego. I was quoted in that article and the only reason I mentioned Chris Gore was because for the past 15 years (or so) he and the managing editor position at Film Threat went with 2-3 freelancers. We can't afford it this year and it's just not worth it in terms of what gets covered and that represents a break in the norm for us. Karina wanted to know what *our* reasons were...it wasn't like "holy shit! Gore isn't going!! Everyone abandon ship!" It was just mentioned in passing. Had I known you weren't going, I would have name dropped you as well pal ;-)

And I agree with what you said in the comments and said as much to Karina about the festival being accomodating. To quote from my email to her:

"Add to that the fact that other festivals we cover like SXSW, CineVegas and AFI (Dallas and L.A.) are much more accessible in terms of getting to and into screenings, access to the filmmakers and a general environment that we're valued and wanted there and having us regulars skip Sundance is almost a no-brainer. The press office at Sundance does an unbelieveable job but the festival is just so massive and inundated with people from all over the globe that once you get your press credentials, you're on your own."

So, yeah. We can do more work in terms of coverage, reviews and interviews at pretty much every other festival and trust me, Film Threat busts ASS at fests. We covered EVERY film at last years SXSW and CineVegas sans the shorts. Sorry shorts!

Plus I went to the AVN Awards last weekend which I have a feeling was probably more entertaining and fun than the grind of Sundance.

Glenn Kenny

The AVN awards—would I?!?!?

How were they this year Who was there? Did you see Sasha Grey? I can't find the coverage on FIlm Threat, am I missing something? Please advise.


Well, yeah, I didn't imagine that anyone cares overmuch about my personal adventures in bankruptcy. But I did think it was worth noting that I'm prepared to make sacrifices to be at Cannes and Toronto that just aren't worth it when it comes to Sundance. If you have to skip one major festival, it's probably gonna be the one that shows you films on folding chairs in a hotel conference room.

Glenn Kenny

@md'a: Re: sacrifices. You and me both, man. I keep watching the Euro/Dollar exchange rate drop a little more each day.

Hey, how's this for a high-concept idea? Let's you and I just go nuts bitching each other out on various and sundry threads, until we create the impression that we really can't stand each other. Then, we go to some new media entrepreneur and sell him/her on the idea of sending us to Cannes as roommates. From there we make webcasts and vlogs of our hilarious squabbles , and maybe throw in some film criticism. Whaddya think?


Only if you can convince them to call it "The Reel World."

Sam Adams

Considering that half the movies I most want to see have already screened in NY, there won't be much difference, except that you'll be colder on the East Coast (really). If I'd seen IN THE LOOP already I might have stayed home and cleaned out the basement.


"Had "Gran Torino" been a Western with Native Americans replacing the Hmong would we even be having this conversation?"

I like this idea. My major hangup is (among others mentioned above) the way in which the film portrays its 'enemy'. The Asian 'gangsters' are what makes this movie bad, in my opinion. They have no depth. They have no real menace in their characterization. We are let to assume stereotypical things about them that are not substantiated within the film. They are cardboard cut-out movie villains, who happen to also be Asian (Granted, not something you see much of in Hollywood, outside of action/martial arts movies).
Yet, if we think of them as the Other "injun" in a postmodern neo-Western trope or some such thing, then I guess that's forgiven as classical storytelling without regard to (non-white) race?
Comparing the Asian gangsters to the African-American teenagers (who are NOT supposed to be gangsters) that stop Sue in the street, is this just the consequence of bad performances vs. decent ones, or are the 'gangsters' *supposed* to be caricatures?

For what it's worth, I think Eastwood manages to both criticize and revel in the hollowness of postmodern, American masculinity; it's like he's offering it up as its own symbolic martyr. The White Man is dead, long live the White Man! Jeez.


Heh, you almost look like Sid Haig in that photo Glenn. I was getting Captain Spaulding vibes.


Actually, GRAN TORINO is really just a modern retelling of THE SHOOTIST (directed by Eastwood mentor Don Siegel), right down to the ending. So it pretty much already has been done as a western.

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This sucks. Already we don't like this woman, she's really a looney, but to make up these quotes is stupid and low and takes our focus off this surreal creature out of the Alaskan wilds.
If she and McPain get in then we, as a country, are surely doomed.

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