Nathaniel, reporting from the snowy mountains of Park City Utah for the annual Sundance Film Festival. Michael, currently en route, will also be covering though we both missed opening night (I was still visiting family in Utah).
From what I gather the opening night talk mostly revolved around Sebastian Stan's muscular performance in a raunchy sex scene in The Bronze. While that event was happening (unbeknownst to me) I was still visiting my mom and brother and they made me* watch muscular Sebastian Stan and his robot arm terrorizing Captain America and The Black Widow.
So, it was unofficially Sebastian Stan Day. Perhaps this is a good omen for the actor's 2015, which he already seems rather happy about (see photo evidence, left). Variety interviewed him at the premiere and he said the script for The Bronze was so funny that before he even got the role he was quoting his own character to friends. It's a supporting role but a showy one, as a former gold medalist Olympic gymnast
After picking up my badge, I raced off to my first movie, the only thing I could squeeze in before a Nicole Kidman party I had no intention of missing. [More...]
Dark Horse is a documentary about a barmaid who decides she wants to breed a racehorse, the province of the wealthy. She proceeds to do just that with the help of several neighbors from her scrappy former mining village in Wales (the movie has a brief section that covers the history we just saw in Pride - albeit without the gay angle -- in which the mining unions of 1980s England went on strike over poor conditions and wages, and the government fought back ruthlessly, closing pits and destroying entire communities). The barmaid and her friends fall instantly in love with their gangly wobbly foal but no one expects "Dream Alliance" to grown into the fine racehorse it quickly becomes.
Pride turns out to be a tough act to follow as comedies about scrappy Welsh miners and odes to solidarity go. This documentary isn't as nuanced, informative, or as overstuffed with pleasure as that one but the note it does hit, it hits real well. And keeps on hitting it: Welsh villages are tight knit and scrappy and everyone needs a dream to believe in! I wish that Dark Horse hadn't been so evasive about the details on everything from horse training to the rules and regulations of the collective ownership of the horse. The subject matter and interviewed characters are colorful enough that you keep wishing the movie was going for rainbow instead of settling for one or two lovely colors. But should you find yourself in the mood for a fun inspirational documentary, it's a grand success on that level. I got a little choked up watching these old miners, barmaids, former pit workers and retirees chasing a very odd dream they didn't even know they had then grabbing on to it like a lifeline when the dream starts to feel real.
Nicole Kidman is a "Dag"
After the movie I raced to a pre-party for Strangerland starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes as parents whose teenage children suddenly go missing. Though I was invited my name was not on the list (eep) and I was turned away. Cast out! Shivering on the street -- not from the cold but from the absence of Kidman! Happily a favorite publicist saved me (Thanks Scott!) and I was able to attend the party and the world premiere.
Crisis averted. Got into Kidman party. screening about to begin pic.twitter.com/EMxceXUV5l— Nathaniel Rogers (@nathanielr) January 24, 2015
Nicole was late to her own party (and stayed only briefly). I was somehow roped into taking a photo of her with a fan. Sadly that fan was not me. Awkward. She did a friendly little wave to me as she disappeared. Hugo Weaving, who plays the detective investigating the case, was chattier. He was visibly surprised to hear that Proof (1991) was my entry point into his career - that fine Australian film is way too underseen. He says the Hollywood stuff is the anomaly - what he mostly does is 'these little Australian films that no one sees.' He says that Nicole is a joy to work with and fearless. That she'll basically come right out and say things like 'I'll do anything for the camera' but off camera she's a "dag". He could tell I didn't know what the word meant, so he started with the literal meaning which, much to my horror, is basically a sheep's dingleberries! Thankfully it has a much more affectionately teasing figurative meaning, basically a "nerd," and he promised that cast and crew loves her.
My blurry photos!
More on that movie tomorrow!
* In truth no one has to force me to watch Captain America: Winter Soldier but it was their idea.