Basham at Sundance 21/1/06

Tim Basham attends his first Sundance Film Festival!


Sundance 1.0 1-20-06
With Tim Basham

The first award at Sundance was given by R. Jay—not a rapper, but the shuttle driver who safely navigated the 30 mile trip from the airport to our accommodations. It seems that in past years some celebrities should have been dropped off in a snow bank for their rude, classless behavior. But, taking the high road like the professional he is, R. Jay preferred to talk of passengers whose celebrity status in no way hampered their ability to be decent human beings. Last year’s winner, he reveals, was Rosie O’Donnell. Congratulations, Rosie. I hope to catch her film “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise” later this week.

“Friends with Money”
My first Sundance film is a press screening of “Friends with Money”—a light, L.A. story of friends and their relationships. Director Nicole Holofcener (known for her TV work—“Six Feet Under”, “Gilmore Girls”, “Sex and the City”) pulled some strong performances out of a terrific cast including Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack. Simon McBurney, with his uncanny resemblance to a younger Roman Polanski, gives a classic performance as McDormand’s gay-but-not-gay husband. Aniston, as Olivia, plays the only friend without a significant other. While everyone else revels in their affluence, Olivia cleans houses for a living and lets the world walk all over her with her primary goals in life appearing to be calling her ex-boyfriend and hanging up or acquiring large amounts of face cream—quite different from the “friend” she played on the tube. Aniston continues to master the skill of speaking with her face while never saying a word. If she ever plays opposite Bill Murray there may well be no dialogue at all. The normally hilarious Cusack plays it straight here, and does it well. And McDormand shines (like always) as she deals with a mid-life crisis by trying hard to rip off the head of everyone she encounters. Holofcener’s screenplay, though full of rapid-fire witticisms, fails to match the level of the performances. There’s a feeling of incompleteness—not unlike the film’s characters—that leaves me wanting more.

Stay tuned…