After the arriving excitement covered in Part One, it was down to watching movies. I started with a few documentaries: One Lucky Elephant and Project NIM (both of which I'll talk about tomorrow) and Sons of Tennessee Williams which is an intriguing and entertaining documentary on a very early pre-Stonewall civil rights victory for gays. And in the South no less! The film is primarily focused on the tradition of Mardi Gras costume balls. Maybe it could have used more thematic organization or stricter editing but the footage and wealth of old photographs are goldmine finds and really fill out the fascinating stories and interviews with living witnesses. The takeaway is pretty spot on -- we all ready need to be aware of history and stop getting complacent about hard-won civil rights. It can all be taken away from you. I have a feeling this film will stick in the head, lingering like glitter. Have you ever used the stuff? You find that shit ev-er-y-where for months afterwards, nay, years! You find it in the weirdest places. It won't go away so thankfully it's shiny and pretty.
While I was waiting in the queue for the first documentary, a gaggle of noisy teenage and tweenage girls walked by en masse and two older female festival patrons behind me stared at them.
Woman #1: [confused] I don't understand what film they were here to see.
Woman #2: [matter of fact] It must have been a normal movie.
Normal. Hee. Festival movies are abnormal you see! Or maybe it's just that they're "films" as opposed to movies... it struck me as funny until I realized that I also see unnormal movies at festivals. Which is to say that my normal movie-diet does not include much in the way of non-fiction but at festivals I seem to always be sticking my toes into documentary waters (they're generally warm and inviting, these metaphorical pools). I choose mostly on subject/story as I suspect regular moviegoers do at the box office which is probably why I should be less judgmental of "civilians" who rarely think about the man artists behind the curtain. "They" don't even seem to choose based on stars they love else films like Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams would be major hits because who doesn't love those two actors? Speaking of Ryan Gosling...
One of my fellow jurors is Dan Butler, the actor. I've met him before at a previous festival when he was promoting his mockumentary Karl Rove, I Love You (2007). You might remember him as "Bulldog" from Frasier or as one of the geeky entomologists in The Silence of the Lambs [weird trivia note: He's also in Manhunter albeit as a different character so I think he's the only actor to appear in both of the first two Hannibal Lecter pictures?]. We had several opportunities to chat since we're jurying but I had to congratulate him on getting the Crazy Stupid Love gig.
Amy heard you crying in the bathroom. We all thought it was cancer.
He even gets a big joke in the trailer. I asked him if he knew he was going to be in the trailer but he had no idea until it came out. But he knew the scene "played," as they say, and it's one of the first big laughs in the movie. We talked about Ryan Gosling. "Sweet" and "talented" were the adjectives of choice. Of course we all knew about the talented part but it's good to hear that he's a nice guy, too. Dan plays "Cal's Boss", Cal being Steve Carrel. I told him I had looked up his "name" on IMDb. He joked that character actors get very excited when they get roles with both first and last names because usually you get a first name or a last name or job title in this case. He obviously loved the part and said he had a great albeit very short time on the set of the star-studded comedy. Get this. He had to fly in to LA right after a performance Off Broadway, film this scene in the movie and fly right back to NYC to return to the play. I thought it sounded exhausting but he only had to miss one matinee performance for the filming. Dedication!
Showbiz people log many frequently flier miles. Perhaps that's one reason Up in the Air played so well with the Academy?