The Sundance Festilog: Bold films inspired by the crap in the Sundance catalogue

Welcome, Readers! To celebrate spring, I’ve prepared a treat for Rhapsody salon-goers and anyone who found herself unaccountably left off Bobbie Redford’s VIP list this year. It’s the Sundance Festilog, combining indie film and the Sundance catalog into one sweet and crunchy box of cereal.

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We may never make it to the red-carpeted ski slopes of Park City, my dears, but if you are an American female with a credit limit above $10,000, Robert Redford’s other baby,the  Sundance catalog will reach your mailbox eventually, like it or not.

Probably not. Anyway—let’s begin!

* * * *

Festilog History

With the Sundance Film Festival in it’s 36th year, Robert Redford was burnt out. Not only did he have to play sexy MC at his film festival, but as soon as the champagne was gone and Ashton Kutcher had been poured into a cab, he had to race back to his vast catalog warehouses to fill our orders of tunics and… well, mostly tunics.

It was more than any ruggedly handsome 77 year-old could sustain. So he called in Rhapsody as a “consultant,” who pegged the obvious right away: a Festilog would join his two pet projects in one fabulous, two-headed love child, bringing us films inspired by the items in the catalog!

I billed him $9,000 for our first session, and then Bob and I got to work.

Over dinner, he read me the story of the Sundance catalog, which opens: “In 1969, we founded Sundance. The next year the General Store was established. In the beginning for us there was no end. Now, it’s hard to remember the beginning.”

He went on in this confusing way—no end, no beginning, no topic—until he got to the catalog: “Today… we’re celebrating that “spirit” with this first edition of the Sundance Catalog…. When you purchase something from this catalog, we appreciate the fact that the prime reason is enjoyment for yourself. [“Points for obvious!” I cried.] But you are also supporting American craftspeople, the Sundance Institute for development of new artists in film, music, dance and theater, and efforts to enhance and preserve the environment…. There is richness and diversity still in the American experience. I hope you enjoy the collection.”

Our waitress stopped by with the check and to ask Mr. Redford if he would have a baby with her, which gave me a moment to collect my thoughts.

“Bob,” I said, “I’m a highly paid consultant so I’ll be direct. The burbling streams of Provo Canyon and vocalizing waters everywhere might be better off if you stopped sending so many catalogues. And unless “American craftspeople” is a cute, new name for underpaid workers in Cambodia, I don’t think they’re much helped by it either. Now, giving new artists a hand is a laudable goal. You could save big and give these young schleps a break if you used them as catalog models. Like Luke Matheny, 2011 Oscar winner for Best Short Film, “God of Love.” Remember him? He’s perfect!”

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[Secret note to Luke Matheny: I’m happily married, and you may be too, but I still carry a torch for you, your movie, and that fabulous hair. Check here if you like me, too_________. — Rhapsody.]

Where was I? Ah, yes. Next, I gave Bob some needed slaps in the face about his catalog messages, which are growing really strange. Decode, if you can, his introduction to Winter Thaw 2014.

“Change is a moveable force. It happens whether we like or want it. Or not. You can resist change as we’ve seen recently in some of our political ideologies. Or you can go with it and put forward the effort to make its force positive. It can push us towards renewal…. Art I believe is an agent for change. It is an expressive celebration of life in its many forms and colors. Join me if you will in this appreciation. I hope you enjoy our newest collection.”

Or not. What? Change is a color. It tastes like art. Join me… if you can find me.

“Look. Bob,” I said. “I shouldn’t have to tell you this, since you are 77 and I’m… much younger than that, but sometimes when you stay up late with friends around the campfire, passing the pipe and thinking up philosophical stuff, you may find yourself saying “I’ve got to write that down before I loose this ephemeral brilliance!” Fine. Do that. But tear it up and throw it away the next morning. Don’t print it and send it to most of the nation in a catalog!”

By then, Bob was really with me. He understood what he needed to do. Over the next two weeks, Bob and I created all five winners of the 2014 Sundance Festilog with our iPhones. We hope you enjoy them, and these awesome craft beers we made, and of course, your own extremely liberal politics.

Or not. Whatever. Enjoy the show!

* * * * *

Juke Joint Blues

Best Actor, Best Costume Design

A story of “vintage burnout,” starring William H. Macy as Boomer Hangdog, a retired banking executive whose girlfriend, Barbie (Cheryl Ladd) tries to make Boomer more appealing by dressing him in the t-shirts of a younger, hipper man. One minute, Barbie wants him to be a Boy Scout in the High Camp Bracelet, the next a swashbuckling ravisher in the Valiant Leather Cuff, then suddenly she’s fed up and tosses him the Time Traveler Watch, saying, “Just get lost, will you?”

How could he, Boomer Hangdog, former occupant of the corner office, find himself a slave in Emancipation Flannel Pants?

Change comes when Boomer realizes that Barbie’s King Charles spaniel, Sparky, has it even worse. Sparky endures the daily humiliation of being taken for walks wearing the Fetching Flowers Dog Jacket. If anyone could understand the castrating effects of the Vintage Vibe Flower Power Shorts, it’s Sparky, known to dogs in the neighborhood as “that asshole who wears a Personalized Pet Charm instead of a rabies tag.”

Man and beast form an unbreakable bond and run away together, after emptying Boomer’s 401(k) plan to buy the $395 Swiss Army Blanket Roll, and stuffing it into the $295 Great Expectations Satchel. Their only expectation… was freedom.


Lively Capris / Intense Bra

Best Director, Best Lingerie in a Supporting Role

A story about the frantic pace of life in the postmodern world, and the even more frantic search for the right article of clothing for each fleeting moment. Like the filmy blouses that crowd the screen, this film has all the makings of the perfect, go-to something-or-other for anything, whenever. Each member of the ensemble cast of “Lively Capris / Intense Bra” is a seeker and a compulsive shopper. In this zany world, filmed in one continuous shot, no one knows what they want, but when they see it, they grab it, and they put it on. Even if someone else is already wearing it.

And when two frenemies (Chloe Sevigny and Jennifer Lawrence) spy the same pair of Divine Comfort Sandals at the same time, we see their ferocious desires laid bare… and the dangerous lengths they will go to fulfill them.

Not for the faint of heart, “Lively Capris / Intense Bra” ends in a spectacular hold-up/hostage crisis, dominated by an unforgettable performance from Wynona Ryder as the wild-eyed shoplifter. We will not soon forget the intensity of her growl, “Give me the Go-To sweater, sister, or you ain’t gonna go nowhere.”


Yellow Field With Chickens Painting

Best Long, Quiet Thinky Movie

Directed by Louis Malle (and Bob and Rhapsody), this bold experiment in film narrative is based on the classic “Yellow Field with Chickens Painting” (available from the Sundance “One of a Kind” collection to as many people who wish to purchase it). Already boasting a huge cult following, “YFWCP” features an all-poultry cast, playing themselves as they discuss art and peck at a meal of French grubs. “Yellow Field with Chickens Painting,” is seventeen unforgettable hours of cinema that will change the way you look at big yellow fields with white chickens in them.


The Brickmaker’s Coffee Table

Best Foreign Language Film in English

“The Brickmaker’s Coffee Table” is the tale of a quirky Belgian woman, Léonie, (Juliette Binoche), her aging father, Jens (Gerard Depardieu), and their life together in a house full of stuff that Jens has dragged home from work. Like his stolen factory treasures, Jens has a “ravaged, rough-hewn patina, gained over a century of service in a Belgian brickworks.” Their European-accented English dialogue is some of the finest writing of this year’s Festilog:

“That is why I spent my life as a brick maker, Léonie. So that we could gather around this $1,095 table that is stained with my own tears and toil. No, no… don’t move your feet- the boot scuffs just add to its character. Let me get you a cold Belgian beer while you relax on the Mid Century Studio Stool that I used to sit on while I made the bricks, back in the middle of this god-awful century. All the steel is distressed. Like me, Léonie. Like me.”


For Good Measure Ruler

Festilog Jury Prize for 2014

A (really) short and paradigm-changing film that takes us to the very limits of sanity. “For Good Measure” depicts a woman’s search for meaning—or at least a good last laugh—after losing all but the $45 in her pocket. Rather than give in to despair, she decides to make the most irrational, most uncalled for, most obscenely wasteful purchase she can think of, with the money she has left.

So she buys a ruler. A $45 ruler. Because nothing makes any sense.

* * * *

Well, it looks like we’re out of cumin-and-chile spiced popcorn, so we’ll end today with Rhapsody’s Real Life Sundance Story.

“This pristine place of natural beauty radiates splendors of giant pines and aspen trees, gurgling streams, sweet fragrant air, and fields of wildflowers. It has become the Sundance Village….At the base of the Village was a tiny store which guests would frequently write to, requesting special items they had seen while visiting Sundance….” (somewhat selectively edited from “Our Story”)

So goes the story of Sundance—not the festival or the catalogue but the real place—and Rhapsody can personally attest that the Sundance Resort, nestled in Provo Canyon at the base of Mt. Timpanoag (tim-pan-OH-ag) is in fact very nice. Rhapsody went there as a child to enjoy the fresh air and summer stock theater and to gaze at the expensive trinkets in the Sundance Village gift shop—none so interesting that you’d expect visitors to go home and write letters of inquiry about them, launching a million catalogues, but what did I know? I was nine.

It’s a beautiful place, among many other equally beautiful but not equally as expensive canyon spots you can visit in that part of Utah. But the most—in fact, the only—remarkable thing that happened to me at Sundance was that I became an innocent bystander in a squirrel fight, during which one squirrel chased another squirrel right up one of my legs and down the other as though I, Rhapsody, was a tree.

It was startling. My parents checked me for scratches then bought me an ice cream and we rode the little hay wagon-thing up the mountain to see “Camelot,” or maybe it was “Into the Woods,” I can’t recall. That’s my Sundance story, and I’m designing a quilted jacket all about it for the fall collection. Be sure to join us for the Sundance Festilog next year, if indeed we hold one.

You never know who might turn up….

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P.S. Wow, this Vera Wang dress is tight! We have so many people to thank for making the Festilog possible! Leah S. who brought us her Sundance catalogue: wind beneath my wings, big hugs! Stephanie B., who seconded the suggestion: wouldn’t be here without you. And Rebecca S., a million thanks for alerting us that Getty Images has left their back door unlocked with a sign saying, “Welcome, looters!” And I’d very much like to thank the owner of the photo at the very top, inlinked, and I acknowledge that inlinking is morally dubious, if not actually illegal. There! That feels better. What do you mean we’ve already cut to commercial?


3 thoughts on “The Sundance Festilog: Bold films inspired by the crap in the Sundance catalogue

    • Thank you! I haven’t made a Facebook page for Rhapsody yet– well, I sort of did. I planted a flag there by just claiming the name and then I never did anything else. I’m not exactly storming the castle of Social Media, am I? Soon. Soon…

  1. Pingback: The Failure Memoirs, Part II: Rhapsody Goes to Writer School | Rhapsody In Cool

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