Jonathan's Sundance Report, 2001
Table of Contents
1. Jonathan's Harper's Index
2. MOVIES (listed in order of my preference)

Invisible Revolution
Compassionate Sex
Trembling Before G-D
Dogtown & Z-Boys

Business of Strangers
Home Movie
Jack the Dog
The Ragu Incident
Nobody's Baby
The American Astronaut
Shorts Program III
3. Skiing
4. Restaurants
5. Housing
6. Parties
7. Miscellaneous
1. Jonathan's Harper's Index of Sundance 2001
Best Movie seen - Memento (Chris Nolan)
Best Documentary seen - Invisible Revolution
Worst Movie seen - The American Astronaut
Best Restaurant Meal- New York Strip Special at Grubsteak, Prospector Square
Best Ski Resort Chili - Park City Mid Mountain Lodge
Best Hot Tub - Josh's condo, Monarch Ave.
Best Overall Skiing - Alta
Best Skiing that you have to Hike for - East Castle at Alta
Best Skiing in the Sun - Mineral Basin (backside) at Snowbird
Best Tree Skiing - Canyons Ninety Nine Ninety lift
Best Apres Ski Bar - Legends Bar at Park City, folk rock acoustic guitar singer.
Best Heli Skiing run - "Peggy's Days", Wasatch Range, last run of the day.
Best Lodge - Snow Lodge at Deer Valley
Most # of hours people waited for movie tickets - 15 (Utah residents got in line at 5pm the night before they went on sale at 8 am the next morning for advance sales to locals only)
Slowest talking People - DMV staff in Heber County
Best shopping for Gear - Jan's Mountain Outfitters, corner of Park Ave. & Deer Valley Road
Best $2.99 spent - hand warmer packets for your gloves on a cold day
Best Massage - Mary Ellen at the Silver Mountain Health Club (Mark Raymond Spa) in Prospector Square
Funniest Story of the Trip - You want "Hang Jaw"? (Jason R.)
2. Movies
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Guy Pierce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Based on the short story by Chris' younger brother, Jonathan Nolan (due to be printed in February issue of Esquire magazine). Absolutely fantastic. My favorite movie bar none since Usual Suspects. If you like thrillers with a mystery twist and a storyline that continues to unfold, even after the movie ends, you'll love this. Flawless execution, and brilliant acting and casting. I can't wait to see it again. Just to wet your appetite, the main character has short term memory loss, and is trying to avenge the rape/murder of his wife by relying on notes he writes to himself and polaroids he takes. In the same class as L.A. Confidential, Usual Suspects, Seven, and House of Games
Invisible Revolution
This documentary from Beverly Peterson on hate groups (KKK, White Supremicists) and a new group that defends against them is remarkable in many ways. It remains objective and neutral throughout, despite it's provocative subject matter. Even in the Q&A session after it's screening, Beverly gracefully avoided any commitment to a point of view. Some viewers may feel disappointed that the filmaker doesn't take sides or editorialize even one bit, but it certainly spurs spirited discussion after the film, and the non-biased approach is likely to have been the skeleton key that allowed her access to the inner circles of the Klan, filiming such rituals as a wedding among grand-wizard-dragons, as well as interviewing key individuals on both sides of the fence. The film covers the familiar but nonetheless disturbing insights into the Klu Klux Klan, White Supremecist Nation, and similar Aryan groups, but also covers a new group emerging that battles against them - the "ARA" - Anti-Racist Action. Highly highly recommended.
Compassionate Sex (Las Alas del Corazón)
A brilliant spanish film (subtitled) from first-time director Laura Mana. It's set in a stark, beautiful, tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and shows how a single woman can control the pulse of the town, breathe color and life into a community once dead, suffer and endure mob-mentality knee-jerk reactions, and ultimately triumph. Extremely funny commentary on religion, gender roles, and of course, sex.
Trembling Before G-d
An Intense documentary about the conflict of orthodox jews who are homosexual, and are struggling to reconcile their faith and their sexuality, since the strict laws of extreme orthodoxy denounce homosexuality. Even though the orthodox way of life is so rigid and extreme that even as a jew I couldn't relate, the dilemna these people face is fascinating and rivetting nonetheless. Great interviews with rabbi's, and several different points of view from both men and women make this a truly moving and poignant piece.
Dogtown & Z-Boys
Stacey Peralta is one of the guys that started it all, and his story here is well told. If you've ever skateboarded, surfed, been a rebel, or just like extreme sports, you'll love this film. It traces the genesis of renegade surfer and skateboarders from the Santa Monica area dubbed "Dogtown", and the Zephyr team of sufers and skaters that were born from the rebellious free-spirited adventurous quest to push the envelope back in the early days of these sports. Incredible footage (how did they shoot and save so much from so long ago?) and great editing and music make this film a credible history piece, as well as a true joy ride for sport enthusiasts.
Super Cool. A documentary covering the evolution of DJ's that "scratch" on the turntable. Tracing the very roots of Hip Hop DJ music, the bands and artists and DJ's that shaped the movement, and the true artistry at play. The sound track alone is a gem, and it's a stroll down memory lane if you were a kid listening to music in the 70's and 80's. Remember Herbie Hancock's "Rock-It"? Know the name Q-Bert? Ever heard of a DJ Battle? This film has it all, with remarkable amounts of footage, interviews, and of course beats that will make you move in your seat.
Business of Strangers
Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles are thrown together as an odd-couple of sorts for a night of adventure in a business-trip-hotel, that contrasts youthful abondon and freedom with middle-aged composure, introspection, and self-assessment. Sometimes slow, but very entertaining. A powerful performance by Stockard Channing, who shows her age but is every bit as sexy as the young vixen. It's got a little bit of Thelma & Louise, and a dash of Lord of the Flies
Home Movie
Chris Smith's follow up to Amercian Movie, Home Movie is a character study of 5 different people and their uniquely bizarre living quarters. From a rainforest tree house to a marshland house boat to an underground missile silo to a fully electronic remote control contraption house to a circus of cats! This is wild and hilarious.
The plight of a lower middle-class community of aftrican americans in Boston, who are more concerned with their clothing labels than essentials like food or housing. "Boosting" (shoplifting) is taken for granted as a way of life to feed this addiction. Kerry Washington does a great job as the main character who is confident she'll never get caught. What stood out for me were the family dynamics, and especially the bulwark Grandmother character. Worth seeing.
Jack the Dog
My cousin, Elizabeth Barondes, has a starring role in this, so I'm biased, but I'll try not to be. It was very good! As the title implies, the main character Jack, has dog-like tendencies (as in "promiscuous"). It starts there and evolves. Strong acting from Nestor Campbell (Jack), many very beautiful women (including my cousin, who is prettiest of all), and despite wincing at seeing my cousin having sex on the big screen, this movie made me laugh, think, and even shed a tear.
The Ragu Incident
This was screened at "NoDance" - one of the many underground alternatives to Sundance, such as Slamdance, and TromoDance. It's a super low budget (no budget?) film shot with more friends than actors, but each character is just perfect. Never under-estimate the importance of sauce. An italian shoe salesman in New Jersey is not looking for a wife, but finds one cinderalla style. As the title suggests, there is a pivotal moment when she cooks dinner for him. This is over the top and hilarious, slightly reminiscent of the scene from swingers when you cringe every time that guy leaves the girl another voice message. Cute, and worth renting (if you can find it).
Solid. Moving even. A couple that doesn't know each other meet regularly to have anonymous sex (which is shown quite graphically). A relationship inevitably develops and plays out, building tension as they try to resovle their situation. An interesting character study.
Nobody's Baby
I didn't care for this too much. Trailor Park characters and their relationships, irony, a few laughs, and the fate of a rescued baby. Doesn't come close to Raising Arizona, but some might like it.
The American Astronaut
Hated it. Walked out after the first 30 minutes, which I believe were the best part anyway. Described as a "zany, musical hybrid about space travel", this would have been a great short. Reminiscent of Space Truckers. Kind of like "Repo Man" slowed down with country music replacement.
Shorts Program III
Sometimes you wonder who decides on what will show at Sundance, and what they heck they were thinking. This collection of Shorts had few if any redeeming qualities. We walked out after struggling through the first four of them. Oh well.

Other Recommendations (from friends, or that I've seen after Sundance). Incomplete to be sure…
Hedwig & the Angry Inch - Hilarious! Love the humor and schtick.
My First Mister - Feel Good, Young goth chick falls in love with another man. Some social baggage, but brilliant.
The Dish - Wonderful comedy about the technical challenges of broadcasting the Moon Walk.
Southern Comfort
Super Troopers
Raw Deal
The Believer
30 Years to Life
3 A.M.

Sundance Award Winners 2001
  Grand Jury Prize Documentary - Southern Comfort
Dramatic - The Believer

  Audience Awards Documentary - Dogtown & Z-Boys, & Scout's Honor (shared the award)
Dramatic - Hedwig & the Angry Inch
World Cinema - The Road Home
  Best Screenplay Memento (Waldo Salt Screenwriter's Award)  
3. Skiing
Alta Continues to Reign supreme. At $35 for a full day lift ticket, (no snowboarders allowed mind you) - you can't beat this skiing or value. Especially if you like to hike. Alta is know for it's "off-piste" (off trail) terrain that you have to hike for. I did this with my brother, and friends (Mitch, Jason, Eric) several times. The hikes range from 5 or 10 minutes for Catherine's Area, to 30+ minutes for Devil's Castle, and Greeley Bowl. It is well worth it. After hiking and traversing, you find yourself at the top of a huge bowl, that is often fresh, virgin, untracked powder, steep and deep. The best runs of my life are still in Catherine's area and Devli's Castle after a fresh snow fall. You can't help but yell out a huge "yahoo" as you're getting face shots of champagne powder. Even if you're legs start to burn, the euphoria and endorphins take over and it's pure bliss. Plus, Alta is really a skier's mountain. No bullshit, barely commercial. Super friendly, old-school, hard core, skiers. And incredible views. No gondola's, no trams, but no snowboarders. Here's the trail map, with my notes of favorite places to hike.

Snowbird also makes the podium, but for me in second place. More terrain, a gorgeous 125 person tram that goes from bottom to very top in less than 8 minutes, but at $54 dollars, it's hard to justify more than a few times. (Note - at Smith's grocery store in town you can buy discounted lift tickets for $40!).
Highlight of Snowbird was skiing the back side, "Mineral Basin" lift all morning and early afternoon. It gets the best sunlight on the mountain, and has a perfect mogul bowl and then a good fast steep groomed bottom for cruising with some nice rollers on it for air if you like.
Extreme Freestyle competitions are frequently held at Snowbird on the front side, and are awesome to watch.

Park City is still a great place for a family, great place for a lot of intermediate trails and variety, but not as good snow as in the little Cottonwood Canyon (Alta & Snowbird). If you're extreme, go straight to Jupiter Bowl & Scott's bowl in the way back at the top of the mountain. The snow there is much different and better than the rest of the mountain, and it's steep bowl territory. McConkey's bowl is an awesome bit of pitch and vertical.
Park City does win on best Chili of all the mountains I skied - at the Park City Mid Mountain Lodge.

Canyons is my third place pick - it's still the up and comer of the bunch. They continue to expand backward into more bowls that you previously could only access by hiking. The "Ninety Nine Ninety" lift gets you some great double diamond runs with bumps, trees, and vertical.
Tip - park in the bottom parking lot and take the ski lift to the lodge!

Heli Skiing! My brother and I went and it was well worth the $500/person price tag. Flying along these breathtaking ridges and wide open ranges of the Wasatch Mountains was half the fun. The scariest part is landing on the top of a mountain ridge that is maybe only 6 feet wide, getting out, crouching down, and having the helicopter fly away leaving you perched literally on top of the world, with only about a foot or two on either side. You put your skies on, and go. There was one guide with four skiers, and four groups total. We made 7 runs (which meant 7 flights up!). There hadn't been new snow for severl days, so we did see some tracks, but we also had our share of virgin terrain, and the snow was still amazing. Knee deep and waist deep powder, trees, chutes, open bowls, some cliffs to avoid, and ear-to-ear smiles at the bottom every time. Kudos and props to my brother who flourished as an expert powder skier in a matter of runs! I have a few pictures, and a video on the way hopefully from the two other guys that were in our group, so stay tuned. PowderBirds: 1-877-974-4354.

Snow-Cat Skiing A slighty cheaper alternative to going up in a bird is going up in a snow cat. This operation claims to deliver a similar experience as heli-skiing without leaving the ground. Somehow they get you to the top of equally great, remote, virgin areas, and then meet you at the bottom to take you back up. We didn't go, but would definitely consider it next time.
PowderCats: 1-435-649-6596

Cross-Country Skiing. The surprise highlight of the trip for me was cross-country skiing. I haven't been in years, and absolutely loved it. It's a totally different experience. Peaceful, serene, surrounded by the natural beauty of the land and mountains, but with few distractions or indications of commercial civilization. For $24 dollars including rentals, it's also a bargain. Most of all though, it's a great workout for the whole body.
I highly recommend this for the variety and relaxation.
White Pines Touring: (435) 615-5800

Snowmobiling. My friends who went loved this. Around $100/person, but only $20 for a second person. "Exhilarating." Bear River Lodge (800) 559-1121
Weller Recreation (435) 783-4718
4. Restaurants

GrubSteak - able to accommodate a large crowd (10+) on several occasions, stellar food, and friendly comfortable (not stuffy) atmosphere.
Zoom - Robert Redford's joint still one of the best places in town. Discovered a pair of seats at the bar with Tim in the far corner that are rarely occupied - great for a casual dinner that is scrumptious food.
The Blind Dog - Even though they took our favorite wine off the menu (the Dynamite Cabernet), food is as good as ever. A very californian restaurant for Park City. Named after one of the owners black labs.
Zona Rosa - Decent Mexican food on main street.
Miletti's - Great Italian.
Picasso - Open late night, and not nearly as smokey as the only other late night option, the Lakota Club.
Wasatch Brew Pub - Solid burgers, soups, and salads. Top of Main street. Never a wait.
Main Street Pizza and Noodle - Still the old stand by for pasta, calzones, pizza, and pitchers.

5. Housing
Great listings off of The Silvertown Condo's where we stayed this year were our best location yet, but not quite as big or nice as the house last year. Being able to walk to Park City Ski Resort, and 5 different theaters (Yarrow, Library, and all three Holiday Village Cinema's) was a huge plus. The Bus and shuttle stops were at our driveway as well. However, I'd rather deal with a car and be more comfortable at a larger, more communal home. The plan for next year is to book even earlier, and go for a single house again, bigger, with it's own hot tub, even if it's not smack dab in the middle of things.
6. Parties
Only went to a couple this year. "LapDance" - as started last year by Matt Stone & Tray Parker, of SouthPark fame, was totally lame this year. Asking $100 cover (we got free tickets), in the small and run down Club Creation, the crowd was pretty grungy, the music was average at best, and there was nothing special here. We left after 45 min.

The Fuji party at Deer Valley Snow Lodge on the other hand was great! First, the lodge is beautiful, and so were the people. They were giving free massages (over a dozen upright massage chairs), free henna tattoos that last a couple of days (yes, I got one), free manicures and pedicures, and GREAT dance music - 80's, 90's, & Hip Hop!
7. Miscellaneous

· For $135 you can get a 10-visit card to the Silver Mountain Spa in Propsector Square (adjacent to the Prospector Square Theater).
· This gym has everything - weights, machines, cardio, a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, spinning classes, yoga, and full spa with massage, and hair salon. A punch on your card is good for the whole day too. If you're booking a massage, ask for Mary Ellen or Sarah!
· Einstein's Bagels is the Park City equivalent of Noah's.
· If you ski Park City or Deer Valley or Canyons, you can get a $10 discount for lift tickets at the Sundance Box Office.
· By the end of the festival, lots of people are selling or giving away tickets. It's amazing how the tide turns.
· United Airlines still sucks. We spent 20 minutes waiting for our ski bags in SFO, not sure if they were shipped to L.A. by mistake, and missed the 2nd quarter of the superbowl as a result.
· Rental car hand-offs in short term parking worked like a charm.
· Next year we're bringing camera's and video for extreme action footage!


© 2002  Jonathan Shambroom.  Feedback