Saturday, February 3, 2018

Sundance Film Festival 2018 - The Story Lives in You

It's that time of year again. Or rather that time of year is finished for another year. I did go back to Salt Lake and volunteered the whole festival for the 11th year. I found out if you get to 20, you get a personal letter from Robert Redford himself. I hope he stays healthy because that's my new life goal.

Here's a little video to get you all in the mood.

You'll need a film list or guide to make sense of the titles. Here's the official one. But honestly the app  for your smart phone has a lot more information. You can download it for free from where ever you get those things.

As usual I did not get to actually see most of the award winners. But I did not hear any talk that that people thought the awards were misplaced, so you and I will just have to go through the list together and check them out.

I think most of the premiers will be in theaters sooner or later this year. The one that I did not get to see but that had universal praise was Collette, about the French woman writer from the 19th century. I had it marked as one I really wanted to see, but things didn't work out for that. That's the film I am most eager to see myself.

I pretty much liked all the films I did see, and this year I stayed through all of them until the end. Several documentaries that I saw I know will soon be on either Netflix, PBS or HBO. These include:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (a 100% charming film about Mr. Fred Rogers....look to PBS of course)
Chef Flynn (another delightful film about a rather famous young man who is a real chef)
Seeing Allred ( a bio of the famous ...infamous.. attorney Gloria Allred)
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (what's not to like about seeing Robin Williams at his best?)
Believer (somewhat of a local Utah film, but young people will know the star Dan Reynolds very well)
King in the Wilderness (about a difficult period of the life of MLK)
Kailash (about the man who won the Nobel Prize for his work about eliminating child slavery)
The Devil We Know (about chemical pollution of the environment)

One that I am not sure will have nationwide distribution is Quiet Heros. This was a big local premier about 2 women, an MD & a PA, who were the first and only people in SLC & UT who would treat people with HIV back at the beginning of the epidemic. It was really heartwarming to be in the theater that was packed with locals who just love Kristen and Maggie, who were there that night. This film brought to mind the one I saw several years ago called We Were Here which was about the LGBT community in San Francisco at the same time stepping up to the plate and taking care of it's own community. But it was real good to see a story about the early days of HIV that did NOT take place in San Francisco or New York.

Some documentaries that I heard good things about which I do want to see myself include:

Bisbee '17
Dark Money
Inventing Tomorrow
The Sentence
RBG ( this one I really want to see soon)
Our New President
Minding the Gap (This one is made by a person from my hometown of Rockford, & it won an award)

Science Fair (in the kids category which won the main audience favorite award)

However, I did not hear anything bad about any documentary, so, as in previous years, if the subject of a documentary interests you, then I would say go see it. I think I want to catch up with the ones about Joan Jett and Jane Fonda, for example.

Sock Monkey joined the theater team this year
Premier, Not in Competition, Films

As I said I am really looking forward to Collette.

Beirut is going to be opening this coming week or so. It's probably a quite good thriller from recent history.

The Catcher Was a Spy ... another thriller from recent history

Come Sunday ...I saw this one was liked it a lot. It's going to be on Netflix, I think it was. I really felt for the hero of the story. See this one when it's out.

Damsel ... I saw this one too. My heavens, it's a western filmed in Utah (except for this odd ocean beach part which I can't figure out) which is a combination of violence and hilarity that reminds me of stories made by the Cohen Brothers. This one is made by the Zellner brothers who look to be the next brother team in the film making world. The violence is not horrible. You've all seen worse. The humor is really good. A miniature horse named Buttercup is one of the stars. Go see this one.

Juliet, Naked is based on a best selling book of the same name, & the film got good reviews

Ophelia, about Hamlet's Ophelia, was popular. I want to see this soon also.

I did not hear anything bad about any of the other main premier films, so once again, if it looks interesting to you, try it.

US Dramatic Competition

I only saw one film in this category, The Tale. Talk about being ripped from the headlines. During the festival all the testimony and sentencing for the doctor who abused the gymnasts was all over the news. This film is about the same subject except the sport was running and it wasn't about big time sports. Very well done. I suggest seeing this unless you cannot tolerate seeing things about the subject.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the biggest award. I hope to see this one.

Burden won awards too. I had the chance to see it, but it was shown beginning at 2130 and lasting over 2 hours on the very last night. I had no energy to even attempt it. I hope I can see it later.

Volunteers generally liked Monsters and Men. People said they did not like the title, but the title came directly from a book of the same name.

I Think We're Alone Now won awards and was shown at Best of Fest. My unscientific survey of people leaving resulted in this. "Did you like it?" "Yeah, it was ok." "Should I go see it?" "If you want." And two women said the whole thing was senseless. Not exactly ringing endorsesments. I plan to skip it if I see it available someplace.

Other Films

Sweet Country is an Australian western set in the outback in 1929. It was shown late one night, and the theater was quite empty, so the managers had all of us volunteers go in to watch. Well, we were all amazed. It was really really good. All of us kept thinking to ourselves ...and then what..and then what.. and then what.... And the ending was a huge surprise. The director was there for the Q&A, and the whole audience was really engaged with him. This one has violence for sure that did make a couple of people walk out, but I have to say, I have seen a lot worse and more graphic in other films. I think this one is worth seeing.

306 Hollywood ...some volunteers said this was quite good and worth seeing.

Search ... again several volunteers said this was very well done and quite chilling when you start to think about the implications of the basic story.

Clara's Ghost .... all kinds of people walked out on this one. Let me just say that at the Q&A some one asked the writer / director if her family really did drink as much and as often as was depicted in the film. She hemmed around with a real long answer that said nothing except at the end "yeah, we do. That's what our life is like." You be the judge.

Mandy .... I think every volunteer who could walked out on this one. One said something like "I should have been clued in from the beginning that the wait list had only about 10 people in it, all men." People said things like you have to already to be a member of the correct cult in order to be able to tolerate this one. It might turn into a cult must-see. But probably none of you belong to that group.

This year I did not see any foreign films, dramas or documentaries. The only foreign film that I heard a lot about was Our New President. I did hear a couple of people who liked And Breathe Normally. The consensus was that is is a good story well told but you won't learn a thing about Iceland where it was made if that's your goal.

This year the colors were bright blue and orange.
Next year?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: Things We Do In South Dakota, Part 2, Festivals of Trees

One of the corridors at the state capital building this year.
A tree for breast cancer people on the left.
I never realized how much of a "thing"  a "Festival of Trees" is until I lived in South Dakota. I imagine lots of places have them, although I do not recall actually attending any except in SoDak. But here, they really are something. Every little place seemed to have one this December, and it's clear these things are traditions in all those towns and cities.

At home in Lead I was an usher more than once for our festival, held at the Historic Homestake Opera House (HHOH) as one of their regular fund raisers for the place. The Opera House was one of many civic buildings originally built by the Homestake Mine Company to improve the daily lives of the miners and their families.
Restored Opera House entrance plaza.
The spaces on the left used to house the pool and recreation areas.
Now they are offices and an art gallery owned by the local Arts Council.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: Things We do in South Dakota, part 1

Sock Monkey was so impressed with Dignity
Wow! Two months since I last wrote. I've been thinking about needing to do another post soon, but you know how it goes. One thing after another after another, and next a whole season is gone.

Part of what I did in the fall was to travel, and that's what I plan to write about. I have several posts in my my mind, but let's start with this one which involves two different trips, with stop-offs in places well known in South Dakota.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: Historic Hotels in Billings and Buffalo

Cody Wyoming is a gateway to Yellowstone

I had this idea to take a four day trip out to Cody Wyoming and back. Cody is a nice town, not far from Yellowstone. I went through there on my trip to Yellowstone, but didn't stop to check it out. I was thinking that 2 nights and a full day might be a good idea. They have both a yarn shop and a couple of breweries there, and the trip goes through the very scenic Big Horn Mountains.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: North Dakota, Because it is There

September turned out to be a month a lot like April-May of this year. I started doing some short trips and just kept going. And I'm not done yet because I'll be heading home to Illinois in a few days while it is still September.

One of my water exercise lady friends found a great cat sitter for me. Ms Jean is a retired school teacher who lives in town, has several pets herself and was up for the gig. She has lived here all her life and drives a Jeep. She told me not to worry at all if the weather should turn bad while I am away (which I'm sure it will some days); she's on it and has a lifetime of experience, plus that Jeep, that will get her out and about no matter what. OK then.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: South Dakota and Beyond

Smokey Rose knew right away how to get comfy in our
Black Hills home.
Smokey Rose and I are now living in our home in the Black Hills. We no longer have a place in Salt lake, just this little condo of ours. We arrived here around July 1 and spent most of July "moving in." Of course this place was fully furnished and all, but I brought with a carload and a pickup truck load of boxes of things that had to be integrated with everything that was already here. A lot of it was clothes, books and craft supplies. There were also some kitchen things, a bit of artwork and some misc things plus stuff like food, cleaning supplies, other consumables such as office supplies. We are mostly done except for the boxes with papers in them. That can wait to be sorted through until a rainy or snowy day comes along.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Blue Lady Travels "Home" to Chicago

So many interesting buildings in Chicago!
You tell me what we have here. I don't know.
My last two short trips before I left Utah were to big cities, Chicago and Denver. I went to both for kind of business reasons, but did my best to enjoy each. I didn't succeed in doing everything that I had in mind, but both trips had real highlights.

Chicago was first, in order to attend the annual meeting of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, my professional tribe for my lifetime. I became a lifetime member this year even because they put in a special category for us retired folks. Several people have asked why do I want to keep going to work related things now that I'm retired? Well, midwifery is, for me anyway, am identity or a calling, not just work that I did. I'll probably never practice midwifery again, but I am a midwife until the day I die.