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Surprisingly, one of the hippest films this year was in the Shorts category. It’s a recently released film called, “A Conversation with Basquiat,” a heretofore unknown filmed interview with the influential, troubled graffiti artist, filmed in the 1980’s. The filmmaker, Tamra Davis, was a close friend of Basqiat at the time, did the interviewing, but never released it as a film until now. Surprising to me, Ms. Davis is now married to Beastie Boy, Mike D. And in another surprising coincidence, the talented Ms. Davis was also the director of the pilot episode of “Love Monkey,” our current cover story. Read what Tamra Davis has to say about Basquiat, Mike D, Tom Cavanagh and so much more….. CLICK HERE

Not wanting to spend too much time watching features, I decided to check out a few more documentaries. Since I’m a big fan, I just could not miss “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”, a riveting tribute concert and biopic combined. Directed by Lian Lunson, the film is an exquisitely drawn, revelatory portrait of the songwriter, poet, and philosopher who has long been out of the public eye, but for anyone who admires his music, not out of mind.

In the film, Cohen shares precious memories (including “eating tea and oranges” with the real Suzanne) of how his songs came to be, and speaks about his life of study at an ashram. The concert portion includes performances by illustrious crooning admirers including Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Beth Orton and the McGarrigle Sisters. The film also includes stirring testimonials by Bono and others, as Cohen is revealed as the self-deprecating, sly, funny, searching human being that he is.

In case you’re thinking that I was too busy going to films to party, you are wrong. It’s really not that hard to do it all when you only sleep 4 hours a night! Sightings during the incessant parties included Carmen Elektra, Dave Navarro, Sting, The Beastie Boys, (at a Red Stripe Beer tribute to Tamra Davis), Robert Redford, James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), Nicole Kidman, Wynona Ryder, James Hatfield (Metallica), Wilmer Valderrama (That 70’s Show), Justin Timberlake, Joseph Fiennes, Julia Stiles, Anne Heche, a musical performance by Judy Collins, and so many more.

Even with all the late night canoodling, I still had time to see more films. In the documentary category, I saw “Wide Awake”, which put me to sleep, and was one of the few true disappointments I experienced at Sundance. I also watched “An Unreasonable Man”, a fascinating look at the life and ideas of Ralph Nader, and how they have affected us so profoundly. Whether you agree or not with his stance on important issues, or his actions as a spoiler for the /democrats in the last two presidential elections, it’s still impossible to ignore the fact that Ralph Nader truly is one of the most influential people in the last four decades.

Seduced by the title, “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” I went to a screening that offered up an original, yet peculiar little film set in a bleak and barren landscape, where one goes after committing suicide. Written and directed by Goran Dukic, and based on a novella by Etgar Keret, the film features Zia (Patrick Fugit), a depressed but amiable young man who’s trying to find his ex (Shannon Sossamon)-who also committed hari-kari. Travelling in a red station-wagon with two strange fellow travelers, the two finally find each other, and a way back to where they came from. The film also features a deliciously crusty Tom Waits as Kneller, a miracle-man living in his own private Utopia. Oddly heartening!

I also managed to catch the witty “Art School Confidential” which is based on the real-life experiences of the cartoonist/screenwriter, Daniel Clowes, during his own art school days. The film is directed by famed “Ghost World” helmer Terry Zwigoff. Jerome (Max Minghella), is an untalented yet ambitious artist who steals the work of a serial killer to further his artistic ambitions, and get the girl (Sophia Miles), and ends up in jail. Instant fame and success ensues, and Jerome is suddenly the darling of the art world. John Malkovich shines as the frustrated art teacher, and Angelica Huston does her bit as the lusty art lover. No one is spared in this biting, but hilarious exploration of the random and subjective nature of art.

On my final night at Sundance, I saw “Cargo”, a dark and ultimately tragic tale of Chris (Daniel Bruhl,), a young backpacker who stows away on the wrong ship, that seems to be burdened by untold secrets Confronted by a ruthless captain (Peter Mullen) and a dangerous or even deranged crew, Chris must struggle to survive in a world where moral order and indeed life and death are at the whim of one man. Director Clive Gordon’s taut and chilling tale delivers us a Captain who realizes the truth too late, and an epiphany when someone manages to escape.

So there you go, Ladies and Gentleman! I hope you enjoyed “my Sundance experience,” and I hope that you go there to have your own. It’s different for everyone, but one thing is true for all-you’ll have an adventure you’ll never forget! Check out the Sundance website at www.festival.sundance.org/2006 for ticket sales, updates and info about the 2007 edition of the Sundance extravaganza! See you there!

In the mad scramble for tickets, and lack of time, I was only able to see a few of the many films I had checked off on my list as “must-sees.” Here is a list of films I didn’t get to see, but surely heard a lot of buzz about. Check them out, and watch for them when they come to your town. CLICK HERE…..

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 52 - September 2018
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