sundance and the kids

1

This is the day my beloved homeland (Canada, for those of you who might have just joined us)* returns to Conservative rule. Final election results haven’t reached me yet — but basically the Liberals screwed up, as leading political parties are wont to do, and Stephen Harper looks set to be Prime Minister. He’s assured the Canucks that he won’t try to revoke abortion, or join the Americans in Iraq, which is exactly what many Canadians would have needed to hear before even considering to vote other than Liberal. He will, however, ‘revisit’ the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage some months ago (and which made me so proud of aforementioned beloved homeland).

Next thing you know, Hillary becomes President and the countries pass each other in the night: the north goes right, the south goes left.

2

Highly enjoyable weekend at Sundance. The highlight was the American premiere of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. (The film had it’s ‘world premiere’ at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and in another couple of months will have its ‘LA premiere’ and possibly its ‘New York premiere’ and I am impressed and exhausted by the number of premieres one bloody movie can have.) I get a kick out of seeing my husband’s name listed in the opening credits. He even appears in the movie for half of half a second — he plays the pilot of a private jet who opens a car door for Aaron Eckhart and Robert Duvall. I believe there’s another half-moment on the jet, when you can glimpse the back of his head a few feet behind a seated Eckhart. Overall, a stirring debut.

The theatre was packed — complete with people waiting outside in the snow and cold to get on the waiting list — and the film met with a lot of laughs, enthusiasm and general good feeling. Afterwards there was a Q&A with Jason Reitman (the 28 year old writer-director) and some of the cast and crew. Those of us who had seen the film before noticed that the sex scene between Eckhart and Katie Holmes was conspicuously missing (there was an odd kind of editing blip and we went directly from the flirtatious scene in the restaurant into an entirely different scene with the kid). I wasn’t the only one who wondered if Fox Searchlight (who bought the film at Toronto) had for some reason censored it. No, Jason assured us almost as soon as he took the podium, there was some kind of problem switching the reels in the production booth: “So if you want to see the sex, you’ll just have to buy a ticket to the thing in March. Which works out pretty well for us, actually.” (Later, exiting the theatre, I heard a woman say cattily, “I don’t want to see Katie Holmes having sex! I hate her!”)

Aaron Eckhart was onstage; so was Rob Lowe (whose kimono scene, a personal favorite of mine, drew the biggest laugh of the night). Someone yelled from deep in the audience, “Where is Katie Holmes?”

Jason said sweetly, “Madly in love.”

Some of the same questions were asked at Sundance as at Toronto. Someone observed that no one is actually shown smoking in the movie. Jason repeated the same answer from Toronto: he doesn’t consider the movie to be about smoking, rather, smoking happens to be the environment, the issue, the characters are working within; so although it’s clearly established that the protagonist smokes, Jason felt any actual smoking would be too distracting.

Someone asked if the movie was anti-smoking. (There is great emphasis on the information that the protag, a lobbyist named Nick Naylor, must constantly spin — which happens to include a massive death toll). Jason said, again, that he doesn’t consider the movie to be “about” smoking — “it’s about parenting and personal responsibility.” The same person redirected the question to Christopher Buckley, the rather dapper author of the book which Jason adapted, and who was standing right behind him. Christopher echoed Jason’s response, and also drew attention to the fact that the father-son relationship — the emotional heart of the film — was never in the book. Was entirely Jason’s invention. “He is twice as talented as I am,” Christopher declared, “but I’m the much better dresser.”

“Well,” Jason said. He was in baggy clothes, a bedraggled scarf. “That’s half true.”

Someone asked, “So is smoking cool?”

“What? Of course smoking isn’t cool. It’s dangerous.”

Someone asked, “You say smoking is dangerous, what about Hollywood? Is Hollywood dangerous?”

“Uh.” Jason swung around to look at the cast and crew members lined neatly along the stage. “Any of you guys want to take that?”

Silence.

Jason swung back round to face the crowd. “Yes.”

3

Went to the afterparty, which was a transplanted scene from LA. A crowd of people struggling to get in, etc. The DJ was actually pretty good, but no one was dancing and the music was too loud to allow for conversation. Left early.

4

I have been meme-cursed (damn you, La Gringa!) and must deal with it. Five weirdest habits. Five people to curse in return.

Must sleep on it.

5

Yet before I abandon the subject of Sundance entirely I would like to add for no real reason: I was recently at a place called Dunton Hot Springs in southwest Colorado where one of their claims to fame (aside from the hot springs) was a story about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hiding out in Dunton after a bank robbery in nearby Telluride. The place has been completely — and gorgeously — renovated, but the bar is the original bar from the original saloon, carved out with decades and decades of graffiti. Autographs that just might belong to Sundance and, right below his, the Kid, appear along the bar’s bottom edge. The story’s so cool that if it isn’t true, it should be.**

*I’ve been in California for about seven years now and LA for the last three and a half.

** Wow. Did I just have a James Frey moment?

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