Sundance in Review: Part Deux
Sundance is not about spotting celebrities or flashy parties. It is about the films. Skiing all day has its perks, but through varied connections I had the good fortune to come by tickets to the world premiere of Margin Call. I had heard that attending a premiere at Sundance Film Festival is quite an event, and I was not disappointed. There are people in lines every which way, the press are waiting with bated breath for the stars to arrive, and the paparazzi are elbowing and shoving for the marquee spot that will ensure the front page photo of the tabloid du jour.
Margin Call was a big, big premiere. However, I did not know that as I drove to The Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. I did not even know that when I found my seat among the other 1,270 members of the audience. It did not occur to me how big this premiere was until I made a last minute run to the water fountain and snuck a peek at the red carpet. Through the black curtain I looked down and saw a myriad of press interviewing Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, and Zachary Quinto. I rushed back to my seat and excitedly relayed to my date that we lucked out in getting tickets to, from what I could gather, one of the most sought after screenings of the festival!
Margin Call chronicles a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. The plot revolves around the key people at an investment bank struggling to decide how to handle moving forward while examining the personal and moral implications of their actions. It was fascinating to watch the portrayal of an event that occurred so recently and the relevancy of the story was not lost on the audience. The theme that tied the movie together is that there is seldom a black and white solution. Every decision is complicated, especially when it affects such a vast amount of people. The performances were, not surprisingly with such an impressive cast, superb! For me, the real treat of the screening was the Q&A session after the film. One of the more memorable moments was when asked if it was a thrill to work with such proven artists, Penn Badgley answered (before thinking it through), “Yes, it was, especially since I am at least 10 years younger than everyone else in the cast.” The crowd loved it when Demi Moore and Simon Baker feigned shock. Watching Kevin Spacey tease director JC Chandor was also a highlight. Stanley Tucci’s comment on Margin Call’s screenplay was more a commentary on film in general. He joked that is was so well written that we lucky few at the premiere would be the only ones to see it! Although it was in jest, I hope Mr. Tucci is mistaken, because I believe the world needs smart, thought-provoking films amongst the blockbuster shoot’em up suspense thrillers and the saccharine, overwrought romantic comedies. The way that I judge whether a movie is well done or not is by how much it challenges me to think about my own life. I may never be the linchpin of any financial event, but what if I were? How would I choose to conduct myself? Sundance is all about showcasing films that create a dialogue.
My most cherished Sundance memory occurred, not surprisingly, after a fantastic day of skiing at Canyons Resort. I was peeling off my boots in the ski-prep lounge at the Waldorf when I heard a mesmerizing voice. It at once commanded attention. A british accent, with a dignified richness that set it apart. He was commenting on what a world-class mountain Canyons was when he came into view, but his back was to me as he helped himself to a cup of gourmet hot chocolate. His movements were done with such grace, almost as if he were on stage. Finally, the tall man in a red Bogner suit turned, revealing himself as none other than Jeremy Irons. I tried not to stare and managed to lollygag just long enough to hear his lyrical voice remark on the Waldorf’s complimentary touch. I don’t believe I will ever again hear a beverage praised in such splendid fashion. Only during Sundance.