Sundance : Day Two

Three movies a day never gets old, but late-night wine and DVD screeners soothe Amber's exhausted nerves.

by Amber Wilkinson

Lucky Number Slevin - Paul McGuigan's latest - "a slick thriller, involving a case of mistaken identity"

Lucky Number Slevin - Paul McGuigan's latest - "a slick thriller, involving a case of mistaken identity"

Day Two dawned bright and clear - early jet lag is good for getting you up in the morning, although 5am is a bit extreme.

Driving into Park City from Coalville, I was struck by just how beautiful the scenery is around here, although, upon leaving the car, I was also struck by how bloody cold it is. Still, the sun was out and the sky was blue and the snow is finally beginning to recede a bit.

Began the day with a press screening of Lucky Number Slevin, which opens in the UK next month. Directed by Paul McGuigan (Scots born and bred), it's a slick thriller, involving a case of mistaken identity. Josh Hartnett plays the "little boy lost" perfectly and in a move sure to impress the ladies, wears nothing but a towel for the first quarter of the film. Bruce Willis, meanwhile, puts in a great turn as a sinister gun-for-hire. The film is full of excellent performances. Lucy Liu is well cast as Hartnett's mortuary-working love interest, with a Columbo streak, while Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley (that's Sir, if you don't mind) are great as two warring godfathers. It seemed to go down well with the assembled press and certainly has the right stuff to make good box office. I'm talking to the two leads and director on Sunday - so will report more then.

Following the screening, it was time to stock up. I mentioned last year that the drinks laws in Utah are somewhat draconian. Basically, you're supposed to be a member of a club (bar) to buy a drink - and they often charge you to join - while spirits and wine are only available in designated state liquor stores - non-descript buildings that tend to be hidden on the outskirts of town. Since I'm staying around 25 minutes from Park City, I can't drink in town, so the thought of a glass of vino to come back to is quite appealing. Dutifully I stocked up - and got carded. I should mention that for me the age of 21 is a dim and distant memory, having past it by more than a decade ago. I wonder how old you have to be before they stop asking how old you are?

Then it was a quick dash to Wal-Mart for a corkscrew and a DVD player. Well, they are selling them for around 30 bucks and it seemed a good investment so that I could watch screening discs in the privacy of my B&B. I could tell there were plenty of journalists in town since, of the three types of corkscrew on offer, the two cheapest were completely sold out. I bought one of the remaining heavy-duty numbers and headed back to town for some more screenings.

The Peter Pan FormulaI have to admit to a "mad fan" moment. I spotted someone who looked familiar. After about two minutes I managed to place him as Scott Wilson, bit part player in CSI and, more importantly, the dad in Junebug, one of my favourite films at last year's Sundance. I'd like to tell you that I was erudite and asked him a selection of intelligent questions before taking his photo, but what, in fact, happened was something along the lines of me gushing about how much I loved the film - really, I wasn't just saying it - and him being very pleasant, if slightly bemused. Oh well, live and learn.

I went to see a South Korean film, The Peter Pan Formula, pictured above. It was a curious mix of coming of age drama and Freudian wet dream. A teenage swimming star has to take care of his mother, who is in a persistent vegetative state after attempting suicide, while coping with the hospital and credit card bills he can't afford, an absentee father and a neighbour he has a crush on. It's beautifully shot but confusing, in that it is hard to tell where reality stops and fantasy starts. I suppose confusion can be a good thing, but this film succeeds in tying itself into knots.

Wide AwakeA quick break later, and it was back to the screening room for Wide Awake, pictured right, a documentary by Alan Berliner about his sleep disorder - ironic, really, as I was feeling absolutely worn out. Still, it was an interesting and incredibly intimate portrait of one man's battle against insomnia, a personal story. that doesn't shy away from showing an obsessive's warts and all. There is footage of his wife losing it with him after he wakes her up with the camera in the night. I think she should be given a sainthood, as Berliner seems testy in the wee small hours, to say the least. There are also some great clips of him discussing "the problem" with his increasingly exasperated mum. While he is willing to let us see the minutiae of his life, including his collection of stuff ("alphabet letters," "watch workings," "spheres," etc), you sense he is unsure of whether he wants to be cured.

Sadly, the film doesn't follow him trying a new technique for sleep, which would have added an extra dimension to the documentary. All that talk of shuteye put me in the mood and so I hit the road and was under the duvet by 11.

Just call me Little Miss Rock'n'Roll.

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