Sundance has begun, no turning back now, and attendees are grateful that the skies are clear and the climate is tempered. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t black ice deceptively fixed on dark sidewalks. On Friday night, I was walking a little too quickly with some folks, when I slipped and fell straight onto my back. The wind was knocked out of me, and my wrist was sore. Later, as I collected myself, the extent of the damage appeared to be: bruised ankle, ribs, wrist, and ego. Oh, and a coin-shaped hole in the elbow of my North Face coat. Sucks. I’m a little wobbly now, but determined to power through. If Friday was any indication, this is gonna be a very busy week.
We had our premiere screening of Lee Daniels’ Push, which played triumphantly at the Racquet Club. The audience loved it, with an overwhelmng standing ovation at the end, as well as cheers and tears throughout the movie. The film is awesome. It’s dark, it’s sweet, it’s uplifting, and it’s altogether powerful. And, what about that Mo’Nique? The stand-up comic and sometime actress turns in a whopper of a performance as an abusive inner-city mom. She’s nothing short of amazing. So much so, the first question of the Q&A on Friday was an audience member asking, “I just wanna know from Mo’Nique, what are you gonna wear to the Oscars?” The reviews have begun to trickle in, with Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly calling the film “a potent and moving experience.”
Earlier in the day, I had the great pleasure of catching the premiere of Lynn Shelton’s comedy, Humpday. I’ve known Lynn for about a year, starting when I programmed her last feature, My Effortless Brilliance, for SXSW 2008. That film earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and Humpday will earn her a jumpstart at making even bigger movies. Humpday is a hilarious look at male friendships, underlying homoeroticism (is that a word?), and the longevity of adult relationships. Mark Duplass and Josh Leonard are great as competing pals, who agree to make a porno together, despite the fact that they are both straight. It’s a great set-up, rich with “will they or won’t they?” tension, and some very funny set pieces. I’m so proud of Lynn, and the whole cast/crew, because they brought the house down at the Eccles. And, that’s no small feat.