Shipwrecked in Sundance, Part III
Published January 22, 2009
Trailer for We Live in Public
Alas, my trip to Sundance comes to a close with this post. I kept up a brave face, all the while sharing a house with five editors, the results of which we can only hope make for a blockbuster Bravo reality show. By this time next year, one of us will have a screenplay in some studio’s hands.
Before arriving in Sundance someone suggested I see a movie about the “Warhol of the Web,” an art project-turned-film examining everyday minutiae called We Live in Public. After seeing the documentary about Josh Harris, who had his first fifteen minutes during the dot-com boom (and bust), I’m not sure he’s Warhol, but, with 32 films rigged in his house, he’s a visionary of some sort. His initial project, Quiet, which launched in 1999, gave its 100-plus subjects platforms to express themselves, and safe environments to experiment-on camera. Harris is perfect for Sundance; he’s all about networking. Harris created an underground society in Lower Manhattan where people lived in observation pods—sex, showers, eating, partying, everything went on camera. Even PS1’s Alanna Heiss got in on it. When the community was busted (FEMA called it a suicide cult), Harris turned the cameras on himself. Director Ondi Timoner (Dig!) deserves an award for sifting through all that footage.
Speaking of Warhol, nothing’s so Interview as a celebrity playing himself onscreen. And that’s just what Paul Giamatti did in Cold Souls. It feels a little like a Charlie Kaufman pic: The story of an actor who stores his soul after reading an article in the New Yorker about a soul-removing facility on Roosevelt Island. Of course he soon wants his soul back, but not before it’s stolen by a Russian mule, who took it to the Mother Country to improve her boss’ wife’s acting. Katheryn Winnick plays the young Russian soap opera actress, Sveta, who’s determined to become a great actress by borrowing an American actor’s soul. Winnick’s beauty dominated the screen, and her performance wasn’t bad, either. All in all, I left the theater with my own soul a little lighter.
There’s something about Kevin Spacey in a suburban environment that gets my station wagon engine running. He’s in Shrink, and a good shrink follows, naturally—one whose life is as messed up as his patients. It begins sluggishly, but after 30 minutes I was hooked. Keke Palmer plays an emotionally guarded high school student, and she nailed it. Dallas Roberts takes on Jeremy Piven for the super-agent role (only we see Roberts stroll into 2000 Avenue of the Stars; no need to speculate on the basis for this character).
With that, the wreck’s over and the boat is about to dock.