This was a very eventful day, in part because it began at a reasonable hour. Dan and I woke up at the crack of 10 AM for a 1 PM screening of Religulous, which was actually less than a screening and something extra instead: Bill Maher and Larry Charles hosted clips from their upcoming satirical documentary on organized religion, before engaging in an extended Q&A with a host as well as the audience.
How can I explain how excited we were for this? Probably not by telling you it wasn’t even our first choice. When we found out we got it, though, I couldn’t believe it had taken a back seat to The Orphanage (though I’m desperate to see that one now that I’ve heard it’s amazing). We love Bill Maher, we love Larry Charles, and most importantly, we want to be in the same room as celebrities. What a deal!
The clips from Religulous were extremely rough, and I was surprised to hear the movie isn’t coming out until next spring. Even at this point, however, you could tell the footage was pure gold. I’m a little concerned that it might try to be funny more often than letting the hilarious absurdity of religion speak for itself — I’m hoping they show a little more restraint in editing the final film. But, as they frequently reminded us, it’s very much a work in progress. And at least I wasn’t the douche who raised his hand to publicly make this criticism, and got smacked down by Larry Charles.
After the screening, Dan and I met Vickie for a late lunch/early dinner in Midtown. Let me say this once instead of every other paragraph like I want to — Vickie is the greatest. Besides all the emailing, and the invaluable support she has provided as I clumsily planned this festival vacay from 3,000 miles away, I’ve had a blast meeting Vickie in person and hanging out with her this week. I LOVE VICKIE. So, like, we had a good time at lunch and stuff.
From lunch, Vickie led us to the Four Seasons for a celebrity hunt that began outside, scouring hopefully with the rest of the gawkers; proceeded around the building, wandering amongst industry folk at play; and concluded by actually entering the hotel, playing it cool as we scanned the lobby for familiar faces. Unfortunately, our mission was an utter failure, as the only celebrity we spied was a well-known publicist. Again, I wonder why I’m so eager to see celebrities when I live in LA. Even there, however, I’ve had no luck, although I did pass Michael Vartan in Bristol Farms once. He seemed pretty pissed that I grabbed the last California roll — out of his hands, sucka! (Not really.)
Before going to our second film of the day, I ran into the hotel to put in some contacts in case we wanted to play Fake Celebrity with my giant sunglasses. (We did this before, with Dan filming me, and boy did those heads turn). But this time, it wasn’t meant to be, as my contact lens ripped after I put it in my eye. So instead of getting in line geekily early for our movie, I spent like 45 minutes in front of the bathroom mirror fishing scraps of contact lens randomly and PAINFULLY drifting over my eyeball. That will teach me to play with the hearts of celebrity-hunters!
We ended up getting a decent place in line, and watching a documentary called Night (6/8), which explores the topic of… wait for it… night. It was a Baraka-type collection of images and music, with some voiceover from anonymous people offering comments on night, what it means to them, etc. The movie was gorgeous, with oodles of astonishing photography and a dreamily free-form narrative. It was so dreamy, in fact, that I almost fell asleep during the screening, and actually believe the movie would have “approved.”
And then beer and poutine happened. Again.
Finally, as if it was not enough that two more movies had gone by without a single dud on my fest schedule so far, I heard the news that Vickie had walked out on Bill.
Let me tell you something about Bill. When I got my very, very first internship in LA, one of my very, very first duties was to write coverage for a little script called Bill. At that time, no one owned the script, it was floating around Hollywood and passed through our office long enough for me to evaluate it thusly: “I did not enjoy reading this script at all. I believe I would enjoy watching it even less.” For two years, I have remembered this script for how awful it was, and winced as I followed its production in the trades.
And then, three weeks ago, I’m browsing the TIFF schedule and what do I see? Bill. And then, six hours ago, I’m asking Vickie what she’s seeing next, and what does she say? Bill! I was thrilled at the chance to hear how it turned out, because honestly, a lot can happen in two years, and I was (sort of) open to the idea that it wouldn’t suck. You never, ever know.
But in this case, I totally did. And I feel really bad for Vickie. I commend her decision to bail after 45 minutes!