What’s the Deal with Sundance Anyway?

We love Sundance because it gives us the chance to be the very first ones to jump onto the fabled bandwagon. When everyone else is talking about Titanic Two or Rambo 87 we get to talk about films like MirrorMask and Whale Rider. Plus we get that secret thrill of feeling like we are better because the movies we just saw are art films so obviously we’re just a little smarter, more discerning and just generally groovier than someone who watched Christmas with the Kranks.

I like Sundance so much that I asked intrepid stringer Carolyn West to go to this year’s festival and find out what movies we should seek out in 2005. We’ll be hearing back from her in a couple of weeks. But in the meantime, what about films from previous years that we should have watched? We all saw Reservoir Dogs, right? But how many of us saw Smoke Signals? Put on some comfortable shoes and let’s take a walk down memory lane.

2004 - Maria Full of Grace – I haven’t seen this film yet but it is on my list. I hear it’s superb. It’s up for a SAG award for this year and it’s on my must see list.

2003 – The Station Agent – a story about a dwarf who is a wannabe hermit, an artist whose son just died and a Cuban hot dog vendor who talks too much. How could you possibly not want to see how those characters interact?

2002 - Kasia Adamik, daughter of the incredible director Agnieszka Holland, made her feature directorial debut with Bark. Starring Lisa Kudrow, Hank Azaria, and Vincent D'Onofrio it’s a comedy about a woman who gives on trying to talk and retreats to just barking like a dog. We all have days like that, don’t we?

2001 – Memento – this gritty story of a man who has no short term memory is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. It’s so good I can’t even tell you. The acting is gut-wrenching. The cinematography is perfect. The director chose to tell the story alinearly and it works brilliantly to pull the viewer into the terrible world of the protagonist. It’s a dark film and it’s not for everyone but if it’s for you then you will be so glad you watched it.

2000 - Boiler Room with Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Affleck, Nia Long and Vin Diesel. According to many threads at the Mortgage Grapevine this film is a favorite with brokers. They always list it in the inspirational movie discussions. Did you all know it premiered at Sundance? Hey for bonus points, and to tie all this together, what movie starring Giovanni Ribisi and directed by Agnieszka Holland has me in it?

1999 - Run Lola Run – this is another movie that I absolutely love. It’s also not exactly linear but not nearly as out of sequence as Memento. It’s more of a sort of fractured time line. It’s the story of a girl who has 20 minutes to get 100,000 marks and bring the money to a guy who is going to kill her boyfriend if she is late or fails to get the money. Franka Potente plays Lola with such panache that you can’t imagine anyone else in that part. It’s violent and quirky and strange but it’s got a glorious, uplifting underlying theme that will make you fall in love with life all over again.

We’re looking for feedback here at Quality Time. We’re going to start letters to the editor page but in order to do that correctly we really should have some letters. What do you think about these movie choices? Do you love any of these films? Hate them? Just don’t get the concept? Want to see me write about Morris Dancers and why they wear such goofy leggings? Then write in to feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com and let me know and I’ll publish the most interesting responses.