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<p>Is it just me, or does everyone always look cooler in snow gear?&nbsp; It's definitely true of Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer, here to support their film 'Wish You Were Here'</p>

Is it just me, or does everyone always look cooler in snow gear?  It's definitely true of Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer, here to support their film 'Wish You Were Here'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer discuss 'Wish You Were Here'

A relaxed chat with two of the stars from this year's Sundance opening night movie

While we've got Team HitFix here, we're trying to do as many interviews as we can.  We've got our awesome video team of Alex Dorn and Michiel Thomas with us on-site, and we've kept them running.  On Saturday morning, we all met at the Bing Bar on Main Street, and I sat down with the filmmakers behind the film "Wish You Were Here."

This was the opening night movie that I reviewed, and I wanted to discuss the movie with the cast.  I've interviewed Joel Edgerton before, most recently for "Warrior," so there was a slight comfort level there, and Teresa Palmer joined him for our chat, which is never a bad thing.

I like that Palmer gets to play Australian in the film, and it is that national identity for the film itself that I thought was most interesting and worth discussion.  Australian cinema has had a number of different ebbs and flows over the years, and it feels to me like Blue-Tongue Films, a production collective that includes Edgerton, his brother Nash, and director Kieran Darcy-Smith, is one of the companies that is part of this new moment that's happening. 

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<p>Drake at Bing Bar</p>

Drake at Bing Bar

Credit: Bing

Drake previews Club Paradise tour at snowy Sundance late-night concert

8 things I learned about Drizzy live: a hater's guide

PARK CITY -- Aziz Ansari had a public service announcement: "The RAPPER is LATE."

The comedian and "Parks & Recreation" star was already bleeding sarcasm as he took the stage at Bing Bar last night (Jan 21), the opening act to rapper/singer Drake who was -- in fact -- an hour-and-a-half late for his set. On a Saturday night, at an open bar for one of the most in-demand MCs during one of the peak nights for Sundance crashers at a private party, Ansari's stand-up was met with a smilingly agitated crowd.

Ansari dotted his bits about childhood and childbearing with "this sucks" and "at least I'm getting paid lots and lots of money." It was Cuba Gooding, Jr. who crashed Ansari's party, but only to unsuccessfully persuade the crowd to shut the hell up and respect the pre-Drizzy entertainment.

There was no stopping them. The Bing-sponsored performance was one of the extremely rare dates leading up to Drake's proper tour behind "Take Care" live dates -- dubbed the Club Paradise Tour. Last night was a preview of what to expect for this highly anticipated stint, featuring openers and Hip-Hop New Class members A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar.

Drake took the stage, finally, at 1 a.m. on the dot.

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<p>A scene from &quot;The Adventures of Tintin,&quot;, which beat "Rango" to the PGA's animation award.</p>

A scene from "The Adventures of Tintin,", which beat "Rango" to the PGA's animation award.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

PGA voters ignore box office, reward 'The Artist' and 'Tintin'

'Beats, Rhymes and Life' upsets in documentary race

Let's just say that if you were expecting any film besides "The Artist" to triumph at the Producers' Guild of America Awards, you clearly haven't been paying attention. After dominating the critics' awards and taking three Golden Globes, the French phenomenon had its first taste of Guild glory last night -- solidly confirming its status as the film to beat (if indeed it can be beaten) for the Oscar.

As with "The Hurt Locker" two years ago, the PGA rewarded by far the lowest-grossing of the 10 films nominated: many pundits speak of them as a commercially-minded voting group, but their choices don't really bear this idea out. Consensus has simply landed on Harvey Weinstein's black-and-white pony as the most loveable in the race, and if it has the money men in its corner, it's good to go.  

We'll know next weekend just how comfortable the film is in the race as the Directors' and Screen Actors' Guilds announce their winners -- a DGA win for Michel Hazanavicius (which is probable) would just about lock things in place, but if it manages to beat "The Help" to the SAG ensemble award (which is more of a question mark), Oscar pundits may as well take up another hobby until February 27.

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<p>Tony Hawk of &quot;Bones Brigade&quot;</p>
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Tony Hawk of "Bones Brigade"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: Stacy Peralta's 'Bones Brigade: An Autobiography'

'Dogtown and Z-Boys' follow-up chronicles Tony Hawk and other '80s stars
It's been over a decade since skateboarding pioneer Stacy Peralta brought his partially autobiographic documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" to the Sundance Film Festival and walked away with an Audience Award and a prize for his direction.
 
Since then, Peralta has successfully chronicled big wave surfers in "Riding Giants" and street gangs in "Crips and Bloods: Made in America," proving himself to be more than just a one-trick pony as a documentarian, but rather an astute chronicler of men who live extreme lives on the fringes of the mainstream.
 
Peralta returned to Sundance on Saturday (January 21) night for the world premiere of "Bones Brigade: An Autobiography," which isn't exactly a sequel to "Dogtown and Z-Boys," but still follows the next chapter in the filmmaker's life, as well as the next chapter in the history of skateboarding as an athletic pursuit and an art form.
 
As he did on "Dogtown and Z-Boys," Peralta is making a film about himself and about the people who were closest to him, but as was the case with the earlier film, proximity yields refreshing honesty and candidness rather than a self-aggrandizing puff piece. The skaters featured in "Bones Brigade," several so legendary that even I've heard of them, see no purpose in being coy or precious with their memories and reputations. 
 
For purposes of honesty, it helps that the story being told in "Bones Brigade" is almost unnervingly functional. Nobody really has all that much to cover up or be ashamed of and the subjects of the documentary are practically competing to distribute the highest compliments.
 
As you might imagine, all of that admiration and respect isn't always so great for drama and "Bones Brigade" lacks even the traditional spiral of egos that pushed "Dogtown and Z-Boys" to its conclusion. In the place of stakes and tension, Peralta gives us a cast of at least a dozen colorful and often hilarious characters, plus a seemingly bottomless treasure trove of period footage. That was more than enough for this viewer whose interest in the skateboarding milieu is minimal at best.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>&nbsp;Jean Dujardin in the PGA award-winning &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

 Jean Dujardin in the PGA award-winning "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Artist' wins the 2012 PGA Awards film honor - Is Oscar next?

Plus: All the TV winners

One major guild win down for "The Artist," two more to go?

The Producer's Guild of America announced the winners of their 2012 PGA Awards Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills and the big winner was "The Artist." The critically acclaimed Weinstein Company favorite beat out competitors such as "The Descendants," "Hugo," "The Help" and "War Horse." It was the first PGA win for Thomas Langmann who received sole credit for the honor. Langmann has worked exclusively in his native France for the past decade.  
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<p>&quot;The Other Dream Team&quot;</p>
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"The Other Dream Team"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'The Other Dream Team'

Documentary about the 1992 Lithuanian hoops team could use a bit more focus
In reviewing Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War" yesterday, I mentioned my approval for Sundance documentaries that stoke my sense of righteous indignation. But that doesn't mean that I can't be just as appreciative (or more) of something as seemingly frivolous as a good sports documentary.
 
At my first Sundance in 2009, one of the best films I saw was "Thriller in Manila." The following year, I was able to put aside my general antipathy for the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks to love "Winning Time." And last year, no documentary I saw at Sundance packed the visceral and emotional punch of "Senna."
 
It shouldn't surprise regular readers, then, that one of my most anticipated titles at this year's Festival was "The Other Dream Team," Marius Markevicius' film about the 1992 Lithuanian National Basketball team.
 
I didn't have one of the tie-dyed Lithuania hoops t-shirts, but I sure wanted one. I'm never one to turn down the chance to watch Arvydas Sabonis highlights. And if we're doing amateur genealogy, half of my family considers Lithuania to be "The Old Country." 
 
"The Other Dream Team," playing in the US Documentary competition, may just have been too much in my wheelhouse, in the sense that I had the version of the film that I wanted to see in my head and I was disappointed by the actual film's pacing and focus. 
 
I don't think I've ever done this before, but I'm inclined to quote Roger Ebert's Tweet from last night: "Never ask a person who knows anything about the subject what they think of a documentary." I don't know if I'd say "never ask," but "take with a grain of salt" isn't a bad idea. "The Other Dream Team" wasn't the 1992 Lithuanian Basketball movie that I necessarily wanted, but it could absolutely be the 1992 Lithuanian Basketball movie that you want, assuming you want such a thing.
 
Full review after the break.
 
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<p>Bingham Ray outside his United Artists offices in 2002.&nbsp;He was brought in by MGM&nbsp;at the time to re-invent the company as a prestigious independent film company.</p>

Bingham Ray outside his United Artists offices in 2002. He was brought in by MGM at the time to re-invent the company as a prestigious independent film company.

Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

Sundance: Wishing a speedy recovery to Bingham Ray (UPDATED)

The indie mainstay suffered a stroke this week in Park City

PARK CITY - UPDATE (1/23): Reports today say that Ray did indeed pass away. We wish his family the best and deepest condolences on the loss of an indie mainstay. It will be a sad day in Park City.

From the Sundance Institute:

It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society.  On behalf of the independent film community here  in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family.  Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten.

EARLIER: One more note of business. The Tweets started circulating this afternoon about the news that Bingham Ray, a former studio head with deep and inspiring ties to the indie film scene, had suffered a stroke here in Park City earlier this week. He's currently in a Provo hospital recovering.

The Sundance Institute released the following:

Sundance Institute has learned that Bingham Ray, beloved friend of independent film, and Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, has been hospitalized while in Utah for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  We have reached out to Bingham and his family and San Francisco Film Society to offer our support and are pleased to hear that he is being well cared for.  On behalf of the community of independent film fans in Park City and elsewhere, we send Bingham our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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<p>Yayan Ruyhian in &quot;The Raid&quot;</p>

Yayan Ruyhian in "The Raid"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Sundance: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' and 'The Raid' impress on different levels

Another pair of contrasting films confidently directed by talented young filmmakers marks day two so far

PARK CITY - The day started out with a slight panic this morning as I woke up later than I wanted to and had to bolt out the door to make my screening of Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild." When I reached the Holiday Village, I discovered, whoops, it was Antonio Campos' "Simon Killer" that was screening at that time, not the Zeitlin. (I had been going back and forth on which to see and got my wires crossed.)

No harm, no foul. I popped into "Simon Killer" for a half hour before having to leave and line up for "Beasts," and, well, I wasn't disappointed by that at all. It wasn't clicking for me. I won't pass any real judgment until I see it in full, naturally, but actor Brady Corbet, after the success of "Martha Marcy May Marlene," is continuing a nice trajectory of interesting choices. He was captivating in what little I saw. Many respond to the Campos' style, but it felt a bit labored to me. Anyway, I'll give it a solid look eventually and hold off on an opinion until it's a better-informed one.

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<p>Sean Penn did not actually ingest Robert Smith for 'This Must Be The Place'.. it just looks like he did.</p>

Sean Penn did not actually ingest Robert Smith for 'This Must Be The Place'.. it just looks like he did.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'This Must Be The Place' makes 'I Am Sam' look like 'Dead Man Walking'

Sean Penn goes so gloriously off the rails that you have to see it to believe it

Just so we're clear, I have enormous respect for Sean Penn.

I've been a fan since the early days of "Taps" and "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" and "Bad Boys," and watching the choices he's made over the years, both in front of the camera and occasionally behind it as well, I've remained impressed by his talent.

Like many truly gifted people, though, he is capable of spectacular flame outs when they push themselves, and Penn has had his share of terrible moments onscreen.  He's been let down by directors sometimes, but he's also made some big crazy choices that haven't paid off in the end, and I think it's only when you are capable of greatness that you are also capable of doing something almost unspeakably bad.

I am still wrestling with "This Must Be The Place," a new film he stars in for director Paolo Sorrentino, because it is a narrative disaster, but a fascinating disaster.  The movie's so bad in so many ways, and yet I was riveted by the display I saw unfolding.  This is the sort of bad movie that is almost a textbook study.  I want to spend time with it and try to really pull apart how many things just plain misfire, starting with the core concept of the picture.

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<p>Thure Lindhardt gives a remarkable performance in Ira Sachs' &quot;Keep the Lights On.&quot;</p>

Thure Lindhardt gives a remarkable performance in Ira Sachs' "Keep the Lights On."

Review: Thure Lindhardt fuels remarkable gay drama 'Keep the Lights On'

Ira Sachs semi-autobiographical film his best to date

You likely haven't heard of Danish actor Thure Lindhardt, but after Ira Sachs' new drama "Keep the Lights On" finds distribution after its premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival his studio and English-speaking roles should substantially increase.  Lindhardt has had small roles in American films such as "Into the Wild" and "Angels & Demons," but is best known for his critically acclaimed role in the Dutch feature "Brotherhood."  He has a reputation for becoming a chameleon-like ability to physically transform himself for a role and in "Lights" he has been given a substantial opportunity to show his vast array of acting skills.

A semi-autobiographical drama from Sachs, who won the Grand Jury Prize in 2005 for "Forty Shades of Blue," "Lights" begins in 1998 where we find gay New York resident Erik (Lindhard) satisfying himself on a now antiquated phone sex line.   He ends up connecting and hooking up for the first time with Paul (Zachary Booth), a closeted publishing industry lawyer.  To say they have enough chemistry for more than a one time shag is an understatement and the film goes on to chronicle the ups and downs over the next 10 years of their unexpected relationship.

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<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Drive."

Credit: Film District

My dream Oscar ballot: part one

Who deserves to be nominated in the crafts fields on Tuesday?

Longtime readers will know that this is something of an Oscar Nomination Eve tradition for me: with the Academy finally set to announce their nominees on Tuesday morning, I offer my own pie-in-the-sky wishlist of films and individuals I'd like to see nominated in all feature film categories. The past three years, my list and the Academy's have borne very little resemblance to each other; suffice to say I don't expect that to change this year.

For starters, while my First-Half FYC columns stuck to the pool of eligible Academy contenders, my dream ballot -- freed from even the hypothetical possibility of persuading voters -- has no such restrictions. This means that several outstanding 2011 releases that, for whatever reason, aren't on the official list of 256 titles being considered by Academy voters (a list that isn't kind to terribly kind to lesser-spotted foreign and independent titles) can come into play. After all, where's the justice in being able to consider "Dream House" but not personal top 10 inclusion "Cold Weather?" A line must be drawn erased somewhere.

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Vanilla Ice

 Vanilla Ice

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Vanilla Ice talks house flipping, reality TV and his DIY show

The 'Ice Ice Baby' rapper talks nice, nice landscaping with HitFix

Yes, the man best known for rapping his way through "Ice Ice Baby" in the '90s, Vanilla Ice (aka Robert Van Winkle), hasn't simply become a Trivial Pursuit question. The second season premiere of his DIY Network show "The Vanilla Ice Project" (Sat. Jan 21 at 10 p.m.) will give fans of Ice (and home improvement) a chance to see one thing the rapper has been up to over the last 15 years -- house flipping. I had a chance to talk to Ice last week, and not only is he an old pro at plugging product, he knows his stuff when it comes to real estate. No, really.

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