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Friday, January 30, 2015

Days 6 and 7: Leah Finds Luck in a Hopeless Place

On Wednesday I learned a couple valuable lessons that most people should keep close to heart:
1) People with good morals still exist in this world
2) When good karma comes your way, make sure to return the favor.

A group of seven of us took to the slopes and spent the majority of the day skiing or snowboarding. Seeing as the few times I tried snowboarding I spent the majority of my time scooting down the hill on my butt, I stuck with what I know (skiing). I truly enjoyed having a day of exercise and fun, a day not spent holed up in a dark theater (though don’t get me wrong, I have been loving my times in the theater just as much). Though I haven’t been skiing in six years, I was ecstatic to be able to get back onto a snowy mountain and work my way back to the level of skiing I used to brag about.

Standing above a Black Diamond

Unfortunately I never made it back to a level of skiing that was worthy of bragging. In fact, I wiped out two times too many, and my knees hate me for it. The first time I wiped out I had been skiing down the slope gracefully, impressed that I was doing so well, when I realized that my legs were tired. Boom, it was all over. I flipped over my skis two times, causing one ski to fly off and the other ski landed in a way that caused my knee to bend unnaturally. My poles were easily twenty feet away. I was completely alone on the slope. I laid there for a few minutes before realizing that I had no feeling in one of my hands because I dropped my glove off the chairlift on the way up.

Life: 1. Leah: 0.

Too foggy to see; probably why I fell the second time

Since we would be buying lunch and I was unsure if we would need our licenses for the rentals, I brought my credit card and license with me in the zipped pocket of my ski jacket, which also happened to house my cell phone. It seemed like a safe place to house two of the most important items that enable me to get around and function in society. However, this assumption was entirely wrong. During that first wipe out on a "Green" slope called "Homerun," I took my cell phone out to snap a quick picture of the beautiful scenery after gathering myself, not realizing both my credit card and license had escaped in the process.

Of course this would happen to me, I'm Bad Luck Leah. We were all having such a great day and I didn't want to let these circumstances ruin the rest of my ski day, but I was grumpy and had no idea how I would replace them. I felt bad because people on my trip aren't used to seeing a version of Leah that isn't smiling or laughing 24/7, but I was completely bummed about these turn of events. However, I am pleased to report that as my friends and I were leaving the ski area, I received a call from the lost and found. A woman found my credit card and license on the “Homerun” course and was wonderful enough to turn them in! I have decided to take my good karma and return in when the time comes, because it is important to spread the happiness around.
Sigma Kappa takes on Utah

Utah mountain selfie

Holly and I taking a break on the slopes

Today was another day of movie watching, starting off with the film "True Story," starring James Franco and Jonah Hill. Personally I thought it was okay, but it definitely intrigued me to research more on the relationship between Christian Longo, who was convicted of murdering his family, and Michael Finkel, New York Times reporter. Personally I thought Jonah Hill was exceptional in this film, further demonstrating his acting abilities and range.

In the afternoon I presented the research I've completed at Sundance to my classmates and J. I chose to explore the question: Do actors drive the success of movies? With the obsession and fixation on celebrities that is especially seen at the festival where an enormous amount of well-known industry personnel are walking around, I thought this was an important topic to cover in determining how a movie is cast and whether it determines its success. I thought I was clever and titled my research "Do A-Lists Make A-Plus Movies?" It is clever. You cannot deny it. Overall I think I did fairly well on the presentation and enjoyed hearing everyone else's work too.

I also saw "The Witch" again tonight with my friends as promised. I'm still scarred and it still scared me immensely. So that was a lot of fun.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Days 4 & 5: I Got Sick At Sundance

The most unfortunate and dread thing happened to me while at Sundance: I got sick.

My friends quarantined me, suggesting that I not attend dinner outings and proposing me to sleep in rather than attend an 8:30 a.m. screening of "The Tribe," a Ukrainian sign language film (Fun fact: there are no subtitles for "The Tribe." It is only in sign language. Nobody would go with me.).

I don't know how I got sick either because I have one of the best immune systems that I know. However, I took one for the team and even gave my friend my bottle of Purell to keep on her side of the bed since we are sharing one and I'm sure she'd rather not catch the horrid sickness.

Despite being sick, I woke up on Monday with a burst of energy because at 8:30 a.m. I was seeing the film I had been dying to see at Sundance: "Z for Zachariah" starring Chris Pine and Margot Robbie. Despite one moment in the film that had me clutching at my heart (I won't give away what happens, don't worry. But it may have something to do with my boy Chris.), I was most excited for the Q&A portion of the screening because I wanted to see Chris Pine again and hear him talk about his experience with the film. However, to my disappointment, Chris nor Robbie nor anyone else was to be seen at the Q&A portion other than the director. I was absolutely devastated. Clearly Chris didn't care about reuniting with me one final time before our lives took us in separate directions. What a pity.
Watching "Z for Zachariah" at the Eccles Theater
That night I managed to get onto the wait-list for the documentary "The Wolfpack." It was directed by Crystal Moselle and followed the lives of the Angulo brothers who learn how to interact with the outside world after living primarily inside of their Lower East Side apartment for the majority of their lives. I was unsure of whether I truly liked the documentary, but I realized that I loved the film once experiencing the Q&A portion, during which each of the brothers featured in the film came onto the stage with the director. There were two goofball brothers in the center who wore sunglasses during the Q&A and pretended to be British with convincing accents. I decided that if we ever meet in person we will be the best of friends.

The Angulo brothers at the Q&A of "The Wolfpack"
This morning was the morning I was supposed to see my wonderful Ukrainian sign language film, but there was absolutely no way I was going to make it. I actually thought I was dying. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still. Sickness is not becoming of me. Instead, I slept in until 11:15 a.m., which was the most amount of sleep I've gotten in over a week. I have gotten 2-3 hours of sleep per night while at Sundance, so I guess it makes sense that my immune system would break down on me. I'm still incredibly mad and bitter that I'm sick.

I refused to be a hermit and spend my entire day in our mansion of a house (seriously, it's huge), so I wait-listed for the film "The Witch" at 3:30 p.m. I thought it was going to be a slight thriller, nothing too scary. It was also one of the films I had been most looking forward to at Sundance.

Oh. My. Goodness. "The Witch" was one of the most horrifying films I've seen in a long time, and the end of the film left me visibly shaking in my seat. I almost started to cry, but I held myself together remembering that I attended this film alone and didn't want to look like some crazy loner chick crying in shock because of a Sundance film. However, it featured some of the most twisted events to ever occur in a horror film, such as the gruesome death of babies and dogs. I will forever be haunted by this film. The Q&A portion of the film took some of the edge off of the film, until the director was questioned as to why he ended the film the way he did (which was crazy horrific, might I add. Absolutely terrifying and twisted ending). The director responded,"Because I wanted a happy ending." At that point I realized the director is an absolute nutcase and should probably look into therapy options.

The Q&A for "The Witch"
So of course I am going to see "The Witch" again with my friends on Thursday night. Happy Sundance.

Until next time,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 3: I Am Friends with Obi-Wan Kenobi

I decided today that the Sundance Film Festival wait list officially hates me.

It is at times like these when I am so incredibly envious of my fellow classmates who managed to purchase the correct package for the festival, allowing them to fast pass the ticket lines for screenings. I, on the other hand, ended up with the "student package," which simply provides me with an abundance of vouchers that can be exchanged for tickets. And that is only if you manage to get onto the wait list. This morning...I did not.

I also found out that I am not allowed to use my vouchers until January 28th, so the vouchers that I exchanged in the wait list line up until this point were illegal, so to speak. I apparently like to fight the Sundance law.

I intended on seeing the film "Mississippi Grind," starring Ryan Reynolds (swoon) and Sienna Miller. However, seeing as I don't have the best of luck in the world, I did not get on the wait list, which I don't understand because I have some pretty speedy thumbs when it comes to clicking. I'd like to thank our generation of texters for that wonderful ability. Instead, I ended up on the wait list for "Sleeping with Other People," starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Nobody else was attending that particular movie this morning so *gulp* I was forced to go to the movies alone. 

I am SO HAPPY I went to see "Sleeping with Other People" this morning. It was hands down my favorite film so far at the festival, which was classified by the director as a raunchy version of "When Harry Met Sally." It was an honest, realistic look at the relationship between two best friends that end of falling in love with each other. It sounds typical, but it was completely new. Each moment was not predictable and each of these unpredictable moments had me falling out of my chair in laughter. Which, I might add, I was extremely self-conscious about because I was seeing this film alone and everyone else around me was in huge friend groups. Every time they looked at me when I burst out laughing, I threw back some shade with a look that stated, "Don't judge me, fool."

Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie at the Q&A of "Sleeping with Other People"

I also ended up snagging a wait list spot for the PREMIERE of "Last Days in the Desert," starring Ewan McGregor who portrays both Jesus and Lucifer. This was one of my most highly anticipated films at Sundance and I can honestly say the viewing experience did not disappoint. The movie started off a bit slow, with about ten minutes of scenes that showed Ewan simply wandering around in the desert. However, it was the perfect beginning to a powerful film about the humanistic side of Jesus when He walked on the Earth that was filled to the brim with symbolic scenes and images.

The film also featured some humorous moments. For example, when Jesus and the boy protagonist of the film were traveling to get water, they came across a carcass in the desert and the boy just rips the loudest fart I've ever heard. Jesus was cracking up. I could not stop laughing for the next five minutes and I came out of the film with the conclusion: Jesus thinks farts are funny too.

Ewan McGregor happened to sit two rows behind me during the premiere, and when he walked up onto the stage to complete the Q&A portion of the screening with the director, we were so close that I could have held his hand. I didn't though, just so we're clear, but I could have. And it was tempting.

Basically I spent my day with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and everyone reading this should be extremely jealous. He did, however, forget his lightsaber. That was disappointing because he could have easily been attacked, whether by screaming fans or the Dark Side.

Obi-Wan Kenobi at the Q&A of "Last Days in the Desert"
Obi-Wan Kenobi at the Q&A of "Last Days in the Desert" (Minus lightsaber)

Until next time,

Sundance Day 2: I Did the Unspeakable

Day 2 with my main chick Holly.

Today I did the unspeakable. I did the one thing that is most frowned upon during the Sundance Film Festival. The one thing that movie goers and filmmakers loathe.

I fell asleep during a Sundance film. *insert shocks of horror here*

In all honesty, it was not my fault. I was up until 3 a.m. the night before completing research and assignments for my class (this is part of my winter term course, it's not a free trip to the festival just for giggles), thus only giving me three hours of sleep. I was truly excited for the film too. It was called "The End of the Tour," directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and featuring Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack, and it told the story of David Lipsky's interactions with author David Foster Wallace during a promotional book tour.

The film was well done and the actors did a great job with their roles, I just think it was a little slow paced for a 9 a.m. screening. Embarrassingly enough, I found myself periodically nodding off. I even tried widening my eyes as much as possible in hope of gathering the last bit of energy my body could muster. I also started doing a little "theater seat jig" in which I bounced myself around in the seat to a little tune I sung in my head. The theater seat jig provided no support in my attempts to combat the nodding off syndrome. I was less embarrassed, however, when I saw in my peripheral the woman to my right also nodding off during the film. I guess we all stayed up a little too late last night.

The best part of the screening experience? David Lipsky was actually in the audience. He was only a few feet from me. My real fangirl moment, though, came when Jason Segel came out onto the stage for a Q&A session after the movie. I had to choke back some tears.

JASON. SEGEL. In my presence. *swoon*

After the film we ate lunch at this little Chinese restaurant which isn't that concerned about getting your food served altogether, so some of us were almost finished our meals before others received theirs. I also ate two fortune cookies that gave me rather odd fortunes. The first said "Time heals wounds. Keep your chin up." Um, okay. My life is actually pretty swell right now so I don't really have any "wounds" to heal, but good try. The second said, "Don't underestimate yourself. Your social skills are needed by others at this time." Can't the fortune just say that I'm an overall happy person and other people want to bask in my happiness at this time? That would be easier to interpret.

And let me add... *DRUM ROLL PLEASE* ...I met Chris Pine today.

Let me clarify: I saw Chris Pine as he ran into his car, surrounded by a team of publicists and body guards. I also saw Margot Robbie and the rest of the cast of "Z for Zachariah" (which I will officially be seeing on MONDAY!).

You see, I came with a specific goal for the Sundance Film Festival, and that was to meet Chris Pine. Ever since he attached his beautiful face to the name Captain James T. Kirk, Chris Pine has forever stolen my hear (but not more than Leonardo DiCaprio). Since Chris is apparently one heck of a busy man during the festival, I happily accept that I accomplished my goal despite the lack of conversation exchanged with him.

I came out of my Chris and Margot encounter with some epic pictures of their hair. I should really be a paparazzi.

Chris Pine's hair.

Margot Robbie's hair.

Until next time,

Friday, January 23, 2015

Welcome to Sundance: Home of the Morning People

Apparently it is considered the norm at the Sundance Film Festival to get up at 6:30 a.m. to go see a film.
For me, this is not the case.
I am not what one would classify a "morning person," so when my friend Will greeted me with enthusiasm at breakfast, I simply shuffled in my slightly-too-small hiking boots towards the fridge with a grunt and poured myself a glass of apple juice. I'm 99% positive my eyes were still shut. 
Somehow I was also awarded the highly esteemed position of egg maker for the entire group, barely having time to make breakfast for myself. However my egg making career was cut short when I went to serve a perfectly crafted over easy egg onto a plate and instead watched as it slipped and splattered all over the stove. 
-10 points, Leah. 
The rest of the morning went rather smoothly. After waiting for a while out in the freezing Utah weather for our bus, I watched as the rest of my classmates (who all have Adrenaline passes that allow them to skip waiting in line for movies) go in the fastpass line for the film "The Bronze," while I waited with my 300 closest friends in the ticket line. I really enjoyed talking with myself. It was a truly stimulating conversation.
The movie itself was fantastic and a great way to start off the festival. It was packed from the start with laughs, and I am not a quiet one by any means, so I'm sure the entire audience at the Eccles theater could hear my enthusiasm for the film's plot and carefully arranged comedic elements. 
First day of Sundance!
Tim is my favorite. We get along swimmingly.
Three models looking to be hired. Serious inquiries only.
Just chilling on the bus headed for downtown Park City, Utah.
Shirts at Sundance are expensive, so I decided to just take a picture with one instead.
I was also able to attend a talk with Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax films and a big player in the Hollywood industry. You do not want to get on Harvey's bad side as I'm sure you would be forever blacklisted from accomplishing your hopes and dreams. At the end of the talk I decided I wanted to talk to him but didn't want to seem too creepy/desperate, so as he walked by I loudly exclaimed, "Harvey! Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with us, I really appreciated it!"
He actually nodded at me and said "You're welcome," with a slight smile. That is basically code for telling me that he's planning to hire me for his next feature film. A-list stardom, here I come. 
The shining faces of J McMerty and Will Mavity, ladies and gentlemen. Easily my favorite photo from the festival so far.
HARVEY. WEINSTEIN. Yes. I was in the front row (basically).
All of that was only in day 1 of the festival. By the end of my stay in Utah you could be looking at the next Meryl Streep. 
Until next time,