Yep, it's the time of the year again that ALWAYS sneaks up on me: The Sundance Film Festival. Last year I gave a pretty good recap of my festival history which you can find HERE. This year marks the fifth year I've gone up, but the FIRST I've actually done something other than walk up and down main street for the purpose of people watching. In fact, I was fortunate to actually do quite a lot this year! But let me tell you....it definitely didn't start out that organized! Once again, I forgot to pre-register for a priority time slot in purchasing tickets, and once tickets opened up to the general public, all of my desired films and events were sold out. Most notably an event hosted by my absolute favorite, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in which he was giving a lecture on blah blah blah (does it really matter? Its JGL.) But since EVERYTHING was sold out, I was resigned that it would be another regretful year where at the end of the festival I'd say "Oh it's too bad we never actually did anything...maybe next year." Thankfully...that was not meant to be. Don't get me wrong, I always have fun hanging out...and in fact am sad that I only got ten minutes or so of that this year....but seeing films is really what it's all about, and I'm really glad I got to do so much this year.

It all started when I heard an ad on the radio saying you could get tickets to screenings if you went straight to the box office 8 AM the day of the showing to try and get the leftovers. I had heard about this once long ago but had completely forgotten....so I was pretty excited at finding a new in so I could see some of the stuff that intrigued me! Even so, I knew that the JGL event was completely out of the realm of possibility for me...so instead I planned to just BE in Park City that day and maybe we could find him to take a picture before or after his symposium. What didn't seem out of reach was tickets to a Salt Lake screening of a film called Celeste and Jesse Forever on January 21, starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg as a newly divorced (but unfortunately still somewhat in love) couple who attempt to remain friends. So Amelia and I woke up soooooooo freaking early on a Saturday in hopes of scoring tickets. We got there right at 8 and the line was pretty freaking long. I almost wanted to leave, but since we woke up so early we endured it. Well, we sure made the right choice because we got 2 of the last 3 tickets left! Whilst waiting to purchase those tickets, we met a veteran festival goer and I told her how much I wanted to go see JGL's symposium and she suggested we'd have a good chance waitlisting if his event was in a large venue (which it was...) and so, a new  hope blossomed in my heart.

It was definitely really exciting finally seeing something. But as for the movie itself? Well...I'd say it's a mixed bag....but with more positive than negative. I liked the core of what was going on of the story and thought it had some really good and interesting things to say about life, love and the choices we make and the consequences that come from those choices. However, I feel like the film suffered from some perhaps cliched side plots and what I felt was a little gratuitous profanity (F words for the sake of F words really just don't impress me...and I just like things so much more without that I find.) Basically, it was a movie with great moments, but as a whole I didn't LOVE it. That said, I did have pretty high expectations and perhaps I'd enjoy it more on a second viewing.

So after the success we had with Celeste and Jesse Forever I for sure wanted to try my luck with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt event on January 26th. Sometime during that morning though, it dawned on me to try other methods of getting those tickets....AKA Craigslist (and by dawned on me I mean Courtney forwarded me a text saying where someone told her they saw some listings..) So miraculously I got the tickets (which is, along with what happened after, another great story in and of themselves) and later that night we made our way to my dream event. That's right. I spent almost 2 hours of my life in the same room as Joseph Gordon-Levitt where he sang, read stories, showed short films and acted out a chapter from Tom Sawyer. Never in my life have I regretted more not having a twitter to tweet something profound that would make JGL ask me up to the stage and experience that phenomenon known as "love at first sight." Alas. Maybe next year. But I still enjoyed myself immensely! Particularly with the reading of the tiny story in the video below, as well as another short film starring JGL called "Strawberry Bootlaces." The man is an adorable genius.

And lastly, on Friday night I was able to see one other Sundance film, this time in the reallllllly awesome Egyptian theater in Ogden. All theaters should have long red curtains and old men playing the organ. In Liberal Arts, Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother not only starred, but wrote and directed as well. The film also starred the up and coming Elizabeth Olsen (AKA the one that got the talent in the family of the Olsen twins.) The film focuses on the budding relationship of Jesse and Zibby (short for Elizabeth,) but in fact it is really more of a study of life in general. I absolutely loved this movie. It was refreshing, real, honest, entertaining, relate-able, interesting and surprisingly moral. I hope it makes its way to the mainstream soon...because it's definitely a gem. There was one moment I could have done without, but even that was forgiven since it made sense to the context of the story. Go see it when you get the chance!! In fact, I myself would love to see it again!

Well! That oughta wrap things up for my experiences at the festival this year. I'm so glad and incredibly thankful I was able to do everything that I did this year (esppppppeccccccccccialllly the JGL thing...I'm not gonna lie) I've really come to love this festival. It's definitely a bright spot in an otherwise drab month. So I'm glad it finally gives me a reason to look forward to January! I can hardly wait for next years festival!! Then again...right now I'd rather it just be summer :)


50/50 is Fantastic

Finally. Finally a movie from 2011 that I can say with full confidence "I loved that." The year has had some pretty solid films...but there was almost always something that kept me from adoring them. Well, yesterday 50/50 made its way to DVD and you better believe I picked it up the first day it was available and gave it a watch. With two of my favorite actors working today in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen (yeah. I said it. I don't get the Rogen hate...I think he's incredibly hilarious even if he is playing modified versions of himself all the time.) The previews and reviews kept my expectations pretty high, but as I learned with Like Crazy (which I still admittedly need to give a second viewing,) nothing is a sure guarantee that you'll LOVE it.

So, with my expectations in check as much as they possibly could be, I watched it...still pretty much expecting it to bowl me over. And it did...but in a much more simple way than I was really anticipating. In fact, I think most of the beauty of the film was in its simplicity. Nothing felt really heavy handed to me. I think this is because this is definitely a character-based film. It works because it is driven by these characters' complexities in reacting to the situation that the film is centered around, and then how they relate to each other as a result of their response to the conflict. The film succeeds largely due in part to the real strength of this cast. Besides the obvious JGL-- Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen each bring a depth and humanness to their characters that in lesser hands could have come off as one dimensional. But each of them all find a way to really make their characters seem complex, lived-in and relatable....and it is because of this that we care about them.

One of the biggest feats the movie is able to pull off is the effortless balance between drama and comedy. It's not easy to keep them balanced, as one side usually takes over completely. But the likability of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's everyman character Adam makes all sides (whether it is the painful, the scary, the inspiring and the humorous side) of the journey feel completely real and natural. This doesn't feel manipulative, it feels honest and real. Basically, I think this movie paints a very beautiful and interesting portrait of life-- complete with its ups and downs...and that honesty is worth watching. One of my favorites of 2011 for sure. 9/10


Milestone the 2nd

It's finally time to celebrate another small milestone. The lil blog has now reached a hefty 10,000+ views now. Okay..okay I realize in the grand scheme of things that's not THAT much...but hey, I'll definitely take it! May this "little blog that could" continue to grow and grow! I hope y'all are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! If so, keep reading because there's plenty more where that came from! Up next: Sundance 2012 and other recent watches! Thanks again for reading and keep on visiting!


In With the New

As I mentioned in the last blog, there are definitely quite a few movies I'm looking forward to that are set to hit theaters next year. Unfortunately, January-March is pretty much a wasteland of movies....the Hollywood dumping grounds if you will. So it will be a little while before anything truly worthwhile comes out, but here's a preview at some of the movies of 2012 that have me intrigued and some that have me downright excited.

Mirror Mirror - I love the look of this re-imaged version of the classic fairy tale. The newcomer playing Snow White (yeah...I'm too lazy to look up her name) looks fantastic for the part though I can't say I'm assured of her acting chops just yet. Julia Roberts seems all wrong but looks like she's having fun with the role. Whether her campiness completely overtakes the film could be the deciding factor on how good it is. But honestly...can you really go wrong with hunk Armie Hammer (The Social Network) playing Prince Charming? I think not.


The Hunger Games - Jennifer Lawrence has proven herself to be a pretty fantastic actress and the plot here seems intriguing. I haven't read the books or anything, but I am interested in their success and I'd like to see what translates to the big screen.


The Five Year Engagement - token wedding-themed comedy of the year. From the producers of Bridesmaids and starring my favorite Jason Segel (along with Emily Blunt), I'm sure I'll be watching this comedy at some point. Oh and Alison Brie from Community also has a role too. Yay!


The Avengers - The Marvel superheroes finally come together in what will surely be an action packed adventure. It will be interesting to see how these characters will all mesh together having to share a film, but as I've said before, I am more than okay with seeing Captain America and Thor on the same screen at the same time. :) Should be fun!


Dark Shadows - The latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration seems like it might be a little fresher with the inclusion of Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, and Chloe Moretz.

Snow White and the Huntsman - The second Snow White film of the year. This one with the hunky Chris Hemsworth as the prince, but the unfortunate casting of Kristin Stewart as Snow White. Charlize Theron plays the wicked queen. This one definitely seems more serious minded and a darker, more action packed approach to the story. It should be interesting to see which ones does better.


Prometheus - Ridley Scott's prequel to the Alien series could be pretty darn good. Or...it could be as captivating as Scott's previous film, the disappointing Robin Hood. There's plenty of materials to work with here in the Alien universe and the trailer looked pretty dang creepy. I think this one could have a lot of potential to be awesome. But...I've thought the same thing when I heard about the aforementioned Robin Hood, as well as similar 80's franchise and it's modern sequel Terminator Salvation....hopefully this time t his movie can live up to its potential/hype.
Jack the Giant Killer - It's kind of crazy to think that other than Mickey and the Beanstalk, this fairy tale has been pretty much untouched by Hollywood. This live action retelling is directed by Bryan Singer (X-men 1 & 2, Superman Returns) and features a pretty decent cast with Nicholas Hoult (the once awkward titular character in About A Boy, who now happens to be quite handsome) as Jack, as well as Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor. This could be a lot of fun.


Brave - Pixar's latest has been in the works for awhile. While it looks a little too How to Train Your Dragon for my tastes, (not that I ever got around to seeing that one..) I'll give it a watch because it's a Pixar film not named Cars.


The Amazing Spider-Man - I know a lot of people are really skeptical about this movie...but I'm pretty excited. Actually, my official stance is "cautiously optimistic," but I feel pretty good about the spectacular casting and pairing of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. And also the fact that it's directed by Marc Webb of (500) Days of Summer doesn't hurt at all either. I know people say it's too soon...but it's actually the same amount between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins. With all of the right ingredients, this film could be truly wonderful.


The Dark Knight Rises
- I was already highly anticipating what Christopher Nolan would take the series after The Dark Knight, but after I saw what he was truly capable of in Inception, the expectations for his follow-up grew even higher. This is definitely my most anticipated film of the coming year as I am interested in seeing all the returning regulars of the franchise, as well as the inclusion of some of my favorite Inception alums making appearances (besides my beloved JGL, Tom Hardy blew me away in the trailer with his take on Bane, a character worlds apart from what he played in Inception.) And I gotta say, I was skeptical about the casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, but she too impressed me in the trailer.


Skyfall -The latest in the James Bond series with Daniel Craig returning once more to play the character. While Quantum of Solace was definitely inferior to Casino Royale, I just love Daniel Craig in the role nevertheless.

Les Miserables - This adaptation of the popular broadway musical is to be directed by The King's Speech's Tom Hooper and has a cast that so far consists of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. Not too shabby. This could be really really good.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Long awaited prequel to the Lord of the Ring trilogy FINALLY hits the screen. Though the trailer didn't spark the same amount of interest that The Dark Knight Rises did...or even Prometheus, but I am definitely excited to return for a visit to middle earth.


The Great Gatsby -
Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann takes on the classic novel, along with a pretty fantastic cast. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan look just perfect. While I wasn't overly fond of Lurhmann's last film Australia, I will always and forever adore Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet, and so I have high hopes for this one.

Whew. That ought to do it for the big ones I'm looking forward to. But the good thing about the movies is that there are always films that come out of nowhere and surprise you.

Well. Anything here that intrigues you? Did I miss anything?