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Sundance '11 Notes: Best Performance by a Newspaperman

Carr headlam
Over at our coffee news blog Espresso, I posted a piece on the lessons that actors can learn from the documentary "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times." It was tough work, but worthwhile—not for you, but for me, who needed to somehow justify spending company time watching a documentary that features absolutely zero actors. At past, pre-Back Stage-employment Sundances, the documentary programs have often been where the majority of my favorite films came from. It's not that I prefer docs in general. It's just that I think Sundance does a better job of programming those lineups than it does the dramatic categories. Now that I'm here on behalf of an actors' trade, my doc viewing has been limited to "Page One." It's probably no coincidence then that my strongest general feeling about what I've seen here this year has been disapointment. I've seen good films, and even a handful of very good films, but I've also seen some stinkers. Sometimes life is hard.

Anyway, actors' trade or no, I need to take a moment here to point out that the most entertaining character I've seen on-screen at this Sundance has been New York Times media columnist David Carr, as portrayed by New York Times media columnist David Carr in "Page One." I read Carr regularly, but not religiously. That changes after this week. Anyone who ever wanted to grow up to be a shirtsleeved, chain-smoking newpaperperson with a substance-abuse history and too much sarcasm for his or her own good should watch "Page One" just to spend some time with Carr. No, not every point he makes about the Times' role in the new-media world is exactly right—his bias is obvious and understandable—but damn if it just isn't fun to watch the guy work.

Sorry, actors. You can wake up now. To make it up to you, I offer up our profile of Hamish Linklater, who stars opposite artiste Miranda July in her new film "The Future." Linklater is a funny guy whose career has covered a pretty broad range, from blockbusters to sitcoms to indies to theater. Tomorrow check in for our piece on Paul Batiste, a trained barber and untrained actor who landed an unlikely lead role in "Lord Byron"—and didn't even know about it until two days into shooting.

One last thing: Tonight I'm going to see a Norwegian film called "The Troll Hunter." Needless to say, I'm a little excited.

--Daniel Holloway

Pictured: David Carr, left, and Bruce Headlam in "Page One"


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