After today at Sundance, it’s all over except the awards. Walking in the snow toward the shuttle bus that will will ferry me and other Sundancers to various screenings, thoughts of the better movies I’ve seen keep coming into my head.
— That moment in Azazel Jacobs’ Momma’s Man — an extraordinary movie in every way that was stupidly left out of the dramatic competition to make room for, what, The Mysteries of Shitsburg? — when the protagonist decides not to rejoin his wife and child in California but to move in with his parents in New York in the apartment where he grew up.
— The emotinal bond between Melissa Leo, as an abandoned wife, and Misty Upham, as a Mohawk woman estranged from her tribe in upstate New York, as they run lilegal immigrants across the border in Courtney Hunt’s touching and vital Frozen River.
— The sheer beauty of the California wine country in Randall Miller’s Bottle Shock, with Alan Rickman giving a deliciously wicked performance as Steven Spurrier, the Brit who put Napa Valley wines on the map in 1976 by arranging a blind tasting of French and California wines and creating a revolution that is still being felt after Napa takes down the French.
But the last two movies I see today also leave lasting impressions:
— Tom Kalin’s Savage Grace gives the lie to the argument that Sundance films are all granola-fed tributes to human uplift. This toxic baby tells the true story of Barbara Daly (Julianne Moore) an actress who marries Bruce Baekland (Stephen Dillan), the heir to a plastics empire, and proceeds to, well, just watch and hold your jaw up with both hands. Kalin (Swoon) is a huge talent. And Moore’s tour de force performance is unforgettable, especially in the scene where she straddles her son (Eddie Redmayne) and offers to suck him off when he can’t come. There’s murder as well as incest and what could have been TV trash becomes savagely moving. There were a few Sundance walkouts. This is Utah, after all.
— Bernard Shakey’s CSNY Déjà Vu couldn’t have made a better capper to my Sundance experience. It’s a record of the concert tour organized by Neil Young, who persuaded his former bandmates David Crosby, Stephen Sills and Graham Nash to joing him on a cross-country tour pegged to Young’s Living With War abum. The music rocks — how could it not? But the punch comes from the fans, who don’t always relate to the band as it tries to move its style of Sixties protest to the Iraq war. Some fans cheer a song, such as “Let’s Impeach the President,” others storm out and tell you why. It’s a kick to watch these rockers mess with our heads. For me, anyway, they end Sundance 2008 on a roaring high note.