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WHO LOVES YA, BABY!: James Putnam, center, indicates who rules in the WAC. Click the Arts&Life index for a link to photos of a triumph deluxe in Reno. / Photo by Patrick Oden

Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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It was a surprisingly good year at Sundance for films, music and star-spotting

BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: The Cult plays at Harry O's. / Photo by Ben Hansen

By Ben Hansen, special contributor

February 3, 2009 | PARK CITY -- The season is over. The plug has been pulled on the lights for the year, and my small resort town of Park City is back to being a small resort town. It felt as if the 10 days of Sundance came and went incredibly fast this year -- almost like a comet. All that we were able to do were catch random bits and pieces that fragmented off of the comet.

So what came out of the festival this year? Are there any must-see movies that will make it to theaters? What musical acts performed during the week and a half? And most importantly, what did we learn from the events?

If you enjoy Sundance for the celebrity aspect, this year's fest was again frequented by many celebrities ­ enough that their numbers entered into the triple digits. Renown artists and actors were everywhere, including Mariah Carey, Uma Thurman, Kevin Bacon, Sting, Kevin Spacey, James Gandolfini, Mike Tyson and Jack White, to name a few. Your chances at star spotting on any given day were pretty good, even beyond the celebrated first weekend of the festival.

STARS COME OUT: Plenty of big-name actors, including Jodie Foster, visited Sundance despite fears that the poor economy would make this a down year. / Photo by Ben Hansen

Movies selected for the festival this year provided film fans with a wide assortment of choices and options. From award winning drama films such as Push to soon to-to-be cult classic horror movies such as Dead Snow, this year seemed to have multiple offerings for each individual taste. Many of the shows this year will make it into theaters, many still will not. Regardless, the artistic outpouring for audience consummation ­ even if just for these 10 days of glory ­ was huge. Out of the dozens of films in each genre, there were definitely some real winners. Some of the other noteworthy films of the year, and definitely worth checking out if they make it to a theater near you, are It Might Get Loud, Spring Breakdown, In the Loop, Rudo y Cursi, World's Greatest Dad and Humpday.

Music was once again exceptional during this year's run. Three venues in particular shined above the rest, delivering a wide assortment of choices for festival patrons.

The ASCAP Music café shined with a great mix of middle of the pack to big name talent, and was free for any festival holder willing to fight lines to get into the concert tent. With the mediocre lineup last year, names like John Rzeznik, Rachael Yamagata, Wynonna, and Montel Jordan were a welcome change of pace, and each delivered a show worthy of a much bigger venue, yet packed into the intimate little venue.

Downstairs at the Filmmaker's Lounge was hopping nightly, with the myspace.com parties taking a front seat in the very late night/early morning events. It is hard to beat a lineup with celebrity DJ's such as Perry Ferrell and Jonathan Davis scratching and mixing tracks for party goers.

Harry O's for many years has become a legendary site for concerts and secret events. This year was no exception, appealing to several different genres with artists such as Macy Gray, Young Jeezy, Nick Cannon, Camp Freddy, Robin Thicke, T.I., and the triumphant return of The Cult. There is a reason why this club is called "The World Famous Harry O's." Once again, these guys take the cake for the best place for live music during the festival.

The big questions to answer following this year's events had to be, "With people in hard financial times and a growing recession, would the festival be attended? Will there be enough interest to consider this festival still relevant?"

These questions were both soundly answered. Tons of movie goers, tourists, people watchers, and cold-weather maniacs wandered the streets throughout the festival. Parking was close to impossible on some days. Wrestling an alligator would have been far easier than getting a reservation at a good Main Street restaurant on a Saturday night or getting into Club Tao. Stars were everywhere, and the events that made this year the gem that it was helped the stars shine brightly, regardless of the economic haze in the air.

Even during times of financial troubles, we seem to turn to those who can make us smile, to those who can cajole a good laugh out of us, and to those who can make us feel secure in knowing that we could always be worse. It was a time to celebrate being able to slip out of the everyday into a different world, enabling us to become consumed in watching a good story or two unfold. This truly was a Sundance to remember.

MS

 

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