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Actor and director Crispin Glover has a Web site up for his latest feature What is It?, which looks like one particularly bizarre and interesting entry in what seems like a very strong Park City at Midnight lineup. (I’ve seen Old Boy, and it’s pretty great, and while I’ll write more about David Slade’s Hard Candy later, I have a feeling that by fest’s end folks will both be wondering why it wasn’t in Competition and will be shortlisting actress Ellen Page as a future star.)

[N.B. the Quicktime movie trailer on Glover’s site doesn’t always work, possibly due to site traffic. Be persistent. It’s worth it.]

As Trevor Groth writes in the Sundance catalogue: “After 10 years and numerous incarnations in the making, we are euphoric to present the world premiere of Crispin Hellion Glover’s What Is It?… an aptly titled film that defies easy summarization but is a triumph of cinematic irreverence and uncompromising creativity.

“The film (which contains graphic sexuality) flows between controversial imagery and story lines: a minstrel in blackface who aspires to be an invertebrate by injecting snail enzymes into his cheek; a Shirley Temple dictator in Nazi garb; a naked man with cerebral palsy lying on a giant seashell, being fondled by a naked woman wearing a monkey mask; talking snails getting repeatedly salted; and watching over all, an enthroned Glover in a full-length fur coat.

What Is It? is a Dadaist deconstruction of the hero’s journey as well as a hallucinogenic trip deep into the mind of its bizarre creator. It is a thoroughly challenging visual experience as well as a compelling allegory for society and its outcasts. As the visual absurdity of the film rides along at a fever pitch, Glover’s innate humanism injects the seemingly inhuman scenario with a deep pathos that captures the viewer’ attention and consideration. Truly one of the most original films ever created, What Is It? will shock, intrigue, confound, disturb, and amaze even the most jaded viewers.”

Another Sundance trailer on the Web is for John Maybury’s The Jacket. Maybury, a British music-video director whose first feature, the Francis Bacon-biopic Love is the Devil I thought was pretty wretched, takes Adrian Brody and Keira Knightley through a dark time-travel storyline. The script’s been floating around for a couple years and apparently Brody’s character, originally a Vietnam war vet, is now a Gulf War veteran. The project has a trio of heavyweight producers: the Section 8 team (Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, and execs Jennifer Fox and Ben Cosgrove), Mandalay’s Peter Guber, and the 2929 pair of Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, among several others.

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