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The Sundance Film Festival reached its apex on Sunday with the highly anticipated premiere of Before Midnight in the evening, the sequel to Richard Linklater’s indie classics Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as a couple whose romance has spanned decades and continents, the newest offering continues the trilogy’s tradition of smart writing, adding an extra dimension of mature insight and emotional complexity.
Elsewhere Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love seemed to slightly disappoint the fans of his beloved 24 Hour Party People, though Steve Coogan shows off his dramatic chops well. The buzz around Drake Doremus’s Breathe In concluded that Guy Pearce dazzles. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was another hot ticket, filled with lush cinematography and a scene-stealing Ben Foster.
On the documentary front, The Crash Reel apparently elicited in-theater tears while Google and The World Brain didn’t quite live up to its provocative title. Blackfish made a splash—CNN Films and Magnolia Pictures acquired it for distribution.
Finally, the fuss over Fruitvale culminated in a late-night bidding war, with the Weinstein Company acquiring it for distribution. The film is a moving, disturbing story about the last day of Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a police officer on January 1, 2009, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California.
Sunday held plenty aside from movies. Celebrity football fans could catch the AFC and NFC championship games at Paige Hospitality Group’s Football Viewing Party at Sky Lodge with the likes of Adrian Grenier, Kristen Bell, Alison Brie (pictured above) and Lil’ Jon. Peter Sarsgaard hosted a celebration for BAMcinemaFest’s fifth anniversary, while Sea Wolf played at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café.
But the real draw that night, as the glitterati got ready to depart the next day, were the parties thrown by Hollywood’s powerful agencies—all within a few feet of one other on Main Street. UTA took over Riverhorse on Main with Lake Bell, Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe in attendance; WME occupied Wahso, where Paris Hilton, Mia Wasikowska and Toni Collette partied the night away. But the king of excess was CAA’s party at Claim Jumper, where Danny McBride, Alex Skarsgård and Miles Teller marveled at burlesque dancers and a risqué review by Simon Hammerstein The Act.