Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. When it rains it pours. We've had both Grib and Memento Man reporting on a daily basis and they seemed to have crossed pathes today and saw THEY DYING GAUL and MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL. They both like 'em, too. It's great to hear a consensus and gives me hope that we'll have some really great indie flicks coming our way this year! Sarsgaard sounds like he rules the Earth in GAUL and MARYLYN HOTCHKISS keeps getting words like "charming" and "crowd-pleasing." Can't wait!
Here are the two films I saw today:
THE DYING GAUL * * * (Craig Lucas, 2005)
Interesting psychological drama about Robert (Peter Sarsgaard) who has written a very personal screenplay about his lover dying of AIDS which he calls THE DYING GAUL (from a famous Roman statue). A studio executive, Jeffrey (Campbell Scott), offers him a million dollars for the screenplay, but only if all references to homosexuality are removed. At the same that Jeffrey is inviting Robert to his palatial house to meet his wife Elaine (Patricia Clarkson), Jeffrey also begins seducing him. And this is just the beginnning. Elaine soon discovers her husband’s unfaithfulness by posing as someone else in a chat room, learning Robert’s deepest secrets, and then using them against him. Peter Sarsgaard is remarkable in his role as the passionate, tormented Robert; this performance is every bit as stirring as his turns in SHATTERED GLASS and KINSEY. Based on Craig Lucas’ Off-Broadway play, THE DYING GAUL is a dark exploration of revenge, betrayal, internet chat rooms, and karma with a dash of THE PLAYER mixed in for good measure.
MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL * * * ½ (Randall Miller, 2005)
Delightfully charming, sharply written, crowd-pleasing tale that crosscuts between three different time periods. As Frank Keane (Robert Carlyle) is driving down a highway, he is the first one to a horrible accident in which Steve Mills (John Goodman) is just about to die. To help him stay conscious until the EMTs arrive, Frank has Steve keep talking, specifically about where he is heading—to a date that Steve planned with a girl over 40 years ago at Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School. This film started out as a short made by Randall Miller in 1990 when he was in film school. That original short has been grafted back into this longer, more complex tale as one of the three intricately balanced timelines. One of the original little kids in the short (now 26 years old) was invited back to play a new supporting character in the feature film version. Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, and Donnie Wahlberg help to create a strong ensemble. Brilliantly constructed and executed, I'm guessing this will be one of the break-out hits from Sundance this year. During its world premiere screening this afternoon (the film was finished just last week!), the film received a standing ovation (the first I’ve seen at Sundance this year) and rapturous cheers from the audience.
Yesterday I said hi to Maggie Gyllenhaal in the little Italian place on Park City's Main Street where I was having lunch.
Today, John Goodman came in halfway through the screening of his movie, MARILYN HOTCHKISS, and sat right in front of me. It was interesting to see his face on the screen being blocked by a silhouette of his head!
During the Q&A of MARILYN HOTCHKISS today, some woman in the audience asked Donnie Wahlberg if he would show her some of his dance moves from the film. He promptly gave her the name of his hotel and the room number!
Roger Ebert has been remarkably courteous, friendly, and well behaved this year. It's fun to see him dash with his camera to get pictures of celebrities as they enter the Eccles theater.
Until tomorrow, this is your celebrity stalker, Memento Man, signing off!