Fun

Sundance: The Experience

Monday, January 27th, 2014

A view on the plane home.

A view on the plane home.

Sundance has been a strange and interesting experience. Though it was only a week long, it feels like I have been gone for months. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have fun, I enjoyed every minute of the festival, but the early to start and late to end days really takes a tole on the mind, as does watching so many movies a day. As someone who had never been to a film festival before, it was certainly a shock to the system. Now, sitting in the afterglow, exhausted from the flight home, I can only bemoan the fact that it is over.

I can’t say this without sounding like a huge hipster, but my taste in media tends to fall outside of the popular consciousness. Rarely do I see movies in theatres anymore, and when I do they generally do not impress me. But Sundance was different, it’s demographic sharing more of my sensibilities, with movies that had not yet needed to go through the ratings board and needed to appeal to less people to turn a profit. Its documentaries were about people or subjects that would make many people uncomfortable. Films like Wetlands and R100’s graphic and unapologetic sex acts would have been uncomfortably discarded from the desks of a mainstream publisher. Cooties, which features graphic violence inflicted on children, would have been asked to tone it down for a wide release. Not to mention the numerous foreign films that would not have been palatable without an English dub. Overall it was just refreshing to be somewhere where my tastes were more popular for once.

My eating situation eventually became better. Strangely I found Mexican and Asian restaurants to be safe havens, which I usually have to avoid. I also eat the best gluten-free pizza that I’ve ever had, strangely enough. My luck with theaters also continued to be not great, with a few drunken shouters and one old man who absolutely reeked of urine. I was lucky, however, as I enjoyed all the movies I saw. The documentaries continued to be the highlights, though Web Junky Made me experience an anger I had not felt because of a film since I watched Jesus Camp.

This trip was profoundly incredible. It scratched my itch to finally go to a film festival, but has replaced it with the desire to go back. One of my trip mates disunited it best when he said that his life would now be thought of as pre- and post-Sundance, it’s an experience that I would not give back for the world.

Zach Braff, we wish you were there

Monday, January 27th, 2014
Zach looking to see what I have to say about him

Zach looking to see what I have to say about him

Looking back on this, I’m not sure why I went along with Dom’s crazy idea to go to the premiere of “Wish I Was Here,” not to see the movie, but for the slightest possibility to maybe get to see Zach Braff. Dom and I do share the common love of Zach Braff that first began with Garden State. It was a really amazing cast, along with Zach Braff, there was Kate Hudson, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Green, and some guy from One Direction. We waited outside in the cold for 45 minutes in a long line of people, some ‘tweeners’, lip gloss in hand, impatiently applying and reapplying their glittery lip gloss getting ready for the chance to shriek at this “super hot” pop star, while others held “Garden State” DVD’s. And then there was Dom and I, iPhones in hand, trying to think of something clever to say to Zach Braff if he happened to stop dead in his tracks while signing autographs, take one look at the two of us, and be totally blown away by his one line that we so flawlessly and appropriately and quoted that would make him want to kiss both of us and say, “you two are my counterparts.” (more…)

Meeting people at Sundance

Monday, January 27th, 2014

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is that you never know who you’re going to run into. The streets are filled with visitors from all over, and many of these visitors may be unexpectedly important. Some of them are involved in big time film industries, some are here to introduce their films, and others are just here to support the filmmakers, but regardless the town is full of opportunities. Between films you have plenty of time to explore and meet new people. For those of you who are star-crazy, you probably would have an easier time recognizing familiar faces on the streets but in my case, I find that talking to people is the easiest way to figure out who they are. I have had a few cool encounters meeting people here at Sundance.

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Sundance: The love-hate relationship in Park City

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Lexy Ford)

aerial view of Utah mountains (photo credit: Lexy Ford)

Can I quote you on this? “Yeah, my name is John Fucking Doe.” A local resident of Park City, had some mixed feelings about the Sundance Film Festival being held in his city. This got me thinking about how the locals REALLY feel about the festival and all its brought or taken away from the city. Over the past few days I have been asking some local residents, other than John Fucking Doe, what they thought were the pro’s ands con’s of the festival. (more…)

Best freebies @ Sundance 2014

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Sundance is as independent a festival as Canada is proud to have spawned young Biebs. Not at all. Luckily, we’ll let it slide because we’re still kids and we all like free shit. So what benefits of shameless corporate sponsorship did we reap? Here are some of the coolest things
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Navigating Opening Weekend at Sundance

Saturday, January 25th, 2014
But seriously, what?

But seriously, what?

It wasn’t until arriving at Sundance that I began to really understand the term ‘film junkie’. So, I thought I would try to provide some tips to ensure that you will have a positive experience without having your eyes clawed out by the merciless beasts that want to get into every film before you. So read these three tips and rejoice! So what if they seem pretty obvious and not all that helpful? That’s just your opinion. You haven’t even been to Sundance yet so why am I listening to you? Or maybe you have in which case this really isn’t for you. Either way I don’t care what you think. That’s a lie, I do care. I guess I’m just insecure. Shut up. Now you’re probably thinking: “What is this guy talking about? Is he actually going to give his stupid tips or not?” So, without further ado, let’s get started. (more…)

A fancy night with Flea

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Flea plays bass in a jazz set

The night started with me seeing a photo on Instagram that Flea (bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers) would be at a certain Sundance event celebrating music in film. I had no idea if he was just going to be moseying around, or playing, or what, but regardless I knew would be there to find out.

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The Oculus Rift

Friday, January 24th, 2014

The Oculus Rift headset

The Oculus Rift headset

The Oculus Rift has been on my radar since the original kickstarter, which I did not donate too because of the laughable success rate for hardware funded through that site. As the months went on, however, it became more and more clear that the people behind it knew what they were doing, and my passive interest turned into excitement. The list of supported games grew ever greater, and people in the gaming and technology press had almost universally good things to say about it. I was not yet convinced, as it seems to me that allowing oneself to get excited about an expensive and unfinished product without trying it yourself is foolish. Still, I was itching to give one a try, so imagine my surprise when, while flipping through the Sundance brochure, I came across a page saying that it would be there to try for free.

For those who do not know, the Oculus Rift is a virtual reality visor that contains two screens that are viewed through two curved lenses that trick the eye into perceiving the image as 3-D. There are also a series of sensors that detect the movement of of the wearer, which can then be interpreted to allow the user to look around a virtual environment. Similar devices have existed in the past, but because of recent advancements in technology coupled with the wide range of games that are working to support it makes this device possibly the biggest leap in the field of personal virtual reality that has ever happened.

The day I got there, I went to the vibrantly red New Frontier lounge, and got in line for the demos. After experiencing what the device has to offer, I have to say I am very impressed. The first I saw was Clouds, which was a smaller version of another instillation in the lounge. As far as an introduction to the device, it works well but is unimpressive overall. It is essentially a series of interviews about various technological advancements set to abstract landscapes that the viewer can look around in. There were also some demos using a Beck concert and a clip from The Girl From Nagasaki that were interesting. The real show stealer, however, was Eve: Valkyrie. made using assets from the MMO RPG Eve Online, Valkyrie is a spaceship combat simulator that is set to be a launch title for the device. Although the demo is fairly simple, the ability to look around the cockpit while flying in real time feels absolutely incredible. It is sometimes hard to keep track of everything that is going on, but the feeling of craning your neck to find enemy spaceships is honestly unprecedented.

I was lucky enough to have gotten an interview with a representative from CCP games, developers of Eve Online. There was also a representative from Oculus present, but unfortunately he was unable to comment.

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The Raid 2 and The Worst Theater Experience of my Life

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The Raid 2 is a fantastic film. It’s a basically perfect continuation of the previous film, with the same brutal action expanded upon by the increased budget. Like most martial arts action movies, the story is a fairly generic tale about a cop who must go undercover to protect his family. Unlike them, the story is actually pretty well executed, with dialogue that is notable for being overwhelmingly decent. I’m not here to talk about this film, however. Instead, I want to talk about my experience in the theater that night, as it was no doubt the worst experience in a theater that I’ve ever had. So many little annoyances compounded on each other that I swear it was a bad joke.

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Being Gluten Free at Sundance

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Those who have been to Park City, Utah during the Sundance film festival will most likely tell you about the totally insane food situation. It is not exactly surprising, with the cities population suddenly exploding by at least ten thousand people crowded restaurants are a given. If you do find a restaurant that looks like it has room to spare, it is most likely hosting some sort of private event. There are the occasional free samples to be found, but those are too small and inconsistent to rely on for sustenance. That said, it’s not impossible to find someplace if you’re willing to wait a few minutes. That is, of course, assuming you do not suffer from food allergies.

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