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the skunks of los feliz
1.21.2005
 
Busy day today.

After coming to terms with the fact that cell service is spotty due to the fact that half of L.A. is here on their cell phones, and mastering (kinda) the vagaries of the Sundance shuttle bus sytem, I saw two good movies: Brick, and Layer Cake.

Layer Cake, another entry in the British criminal lowlife subgenre, is, as you would expect from director Matthew Vaughn (who produced Guy Ritchie's limey gangster epics), Snatch-esque: slick, stylized, full of predictably unpredictable double-crosses, and pretty damn entertaining. Daniel Craig, who did a great job as the film's unnamed protagonist, nervously introduced the film on behalf of Vaughn, who was stuck in traffic. I didn't stay for the Q&A with Craig and the late-arriving Vaughn, as I had to catch the shuttle to the Racquet Club (a new venue this year, I am told) for Brick.

In the audience: Roger Ebert and Cassian Elwes (not the star wattage of last night, but hey).

Brick is one of those movies you can sum up in a nutshell: film noir in a high school setting. Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the Third Rock kid) and Lukas Haas, and full of rapid-fire, Chandleresque dialogue, this was the first movie I've seen at the festival that really connected with the crowd.

Gordon-Levitt does a fine job, but for me the revelation was Lukas Haas as a sinister drug-dealer. He plays it as an homage to Peter Lorre's portrayal of Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, complete with a bird-headed cane. My only beef with the movie was some underlit (even for noir) scenes.

Most of the cast was there for the screening, as well as the director, Rian Johnson. Hopefully this one will get picked up.

Sidebar: Many thanks to Southwest Airlines for finding and returning my iPod, which I stupidly left on the plane yesterday. Martha, you rock.
 
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