I'm not quite sure why I make a plan for Sundance.
Anyone who has been will tell you that plans go out the window about ten minutes after you touch down in Park City, and that you end up improvising each day based on how things unfold.
Even so, I'm walking into the festival this year with a list of things I want to see and cover, and I'm going to do my best to make it happen.
What films am I interested in right now? What do I consider my must-see movies for the festival? I'm aiming to try and take in about 30 films altogether (we'll see if I can pull it off), and I've broken down the list of things that are playing based on priority.
TOP PRIORITY/MUST SEE
"When You're Strange"
A new Doors documentary? Don't care if I'm alone in the theater, this one's absolutely aimed at me. I'm there.
"We Live In Public"
Crrrrrrrazy sounding documentary about an art project that went wildly wrong and got shut down by FEMA.
Patton Oswalt stars in the story of a fanatical football freak, written and directed by Robert Siegel, who wrote my favorite film of 2008, "The Wrestler." Count me in.
Greg Mattola's follow-up to "Superbad" sounds more personal, but with another great cast including Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and more.
If you know Charlyne Yi, chances are it's either from "Knocked Up," where she played the girlfriend of Martin Starr, or from her awesome YouTube channel, where she posts all sorts of vblogs about wicked cool random things. After this year's festival, though, word is you'll know her from this exploration of love and marriage for today's 20-somethings. Real-life boyfriend Michael Cera also appears. The buzz on this one is epic.
"I Love You, Philip Morris"
Jim Carrey. Ewan McGregor. A prison love story with a twist. I'm fascinated, and this may be the biggest "star" movie at the fest this year.
A sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell directed by the son of the original Major Tom, David Bowie? Hell, yes.
Looks like the UK's answer to "Chopper," a dizzyingly stylish film about a real-life hard man named Charlie Bronson. Tom Hardy looks like a monster in this thing, and the word of mouth from those who have already seen it is persuasive and passionate.
"Rudo y Cursi"
Carlos Cuaron, brother to Alfonso, wrote and directed this film that reuinites Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. Again... no persuasion required. I'm in. It's also one of the first of this year's films to sell, with Sony Pictures Classics already onboard to distribute.
"The Immaculate Conception Of Little Dizzle"
Nothing I can say can top Sundance's own description of this one.
"The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle could only be conceived in the surreal mix engendered by today's modern world of biochemical engineering, digital wizardry, corporate deception, high art, and the rapidly changing mores regarding the straight male arse.Dory, a computer programmer experiencing a crisis of faith, is laid off from his suit-and-tie job and must resort to cleaning toilets with a brown-collar band of janitorial misfits. Unbeknownst to him, he is made the subject of a bizarre experiment involving deliciously addictive cookies that simulate "oven freshness" by warming in your mouth when eaten. It turns out that the cookies cause spectacular visions, wild mood swings, and quasi-pregnancies in the male janitors. The men must pull together to become midwives for one another as each gives birth to a small, beautiful, immaculately conceived blue fish."
Uhhhh... yeah. Might be terrible. Might be great. But I'm going to have to see it for myself and find out.
I really admire "Goat On Fire And Smiling Fish," an earlier film by the Martini Brothers, and I'm pleased to see them back in the festival game with this one. They've been plugging away in the indie world for about as long as I've been writing about it, and it'll be exciting to see what they're bringing this time.
"World's Greatest Dad"
I really like Bob Goldthwait as a director. I think "Shakes The Clown" is great, and his last film, "Stay," was better than the concept suggested. Him working with Robin Williams (who tends to do his best work when he steps away from the mainstream) is reason enough for me to seek this one out.
Zombies. Nazis. Gore. Yep.
"It Might Get Loud"
Jimmy Page. The Edge. Jack White. Sounds like guitar porn.
And speaking of porn... when I was in London recently, I happened to run into Josh Leonard, one of the stars of "The Blair Witch Project." It took me a minute or two to realize who he was at first, and as we talked, it was obvious that he still believes in micro-budget do it yourself filmmaking. One of the movies we talked about was this comedy where he co-stars with Mark Duplass as two guys who haven't seen each other since high school. Circumstance brings them together, and for some reason, they decide to make a gay porn together.
Yeah, I can't make sense of the summary either. But Leonard's passion for the film won me over, and I'm happy to give it a chance.
"The Mystery Team"
These guys have been building a following with their online comedy shorts for a while now, and now the Derrick Comedy Group makes their feature debut with a movie that sounds like a cross between "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Encyclopedia Brown."
SECOND PRIORITY/HOPE I SEE
These are films that sound fascinating, but that I'm not sure I'll get to.
A documentary in which a group of activists invade a place where dolphins are killed for industry, determined to expose the activities.
Joe Berlinger. Documentary. Oil. Sounds promising.
I'm very curious about Aaron Johnson, star of the upcoming "Kick-Ass," and this is a big role for him. The film sounds like fairly typical Sundance programming, but I may give it a try.
If you've seen the trailer, you know why I'm interested. If you've heard the word of mouth from those who have seen the film, you'd know why I'm hesitant. Here's hoping it all gels.
"Push: Based On The Novel By Sapphire"
I sort of hated the shit out of the first film Lee Daniels directed (the vile "Shadowboxer"), but I like the description for this one, and I'm intrigued by the subject matter.
A Spike Lee musical. Intriguing.
"Brief Interviews With Hideous Men"
Jim from "The Office" directing an adaptation of a David Foster Wallace book. Lots of potential, but Krasinski's definitely an unproven quantity as a director.
When Chris Rock's daughter asked him why she doesn't have good hair, it started him on the road to making this documentary. Could be a great subject for a film, and if it works, it'll be more than just a star vanity project, which is the negative potential.
Paul Giamatti's a big genre freak, and for him to make a low-budget SF film, I have to hope there's something to it.
AND ONE BONUS FILM...
... which isn't actually playing Sundance at all. It's at Slamdance. It's the new Broken Lizard film, "The Slammin' Salmon," and I'm determined to find a way to work it in.
And that's just the stuff I can sort through right now. There are midnight movies I want to see, stuff I'm sure I'll see that I'm not even expecting, and scheduling conflicts that will send me howling down the street in anger.
Such is Sundance in this, its 25th year.
And I can't wait. See you this afternoon, Park City.