Our story continues as Don and I made our way to the Palms for our credentials and some wonderful drinking during the HQ Happy Hour. Don stuck to old faithful (Stella Artois) and I decided to try this Grey Goose / cucumber tasting concoction and… by God, it was horrible. Not pleasing to my taste buds at all. So I did what I always do, which is find the nearest can of Red Bull and mix, mix, mix away the bitter taste. This barely made it ok to finish drinking…

Oh, and not only was the drink hardly worth consuming, it also took forever to make, as this young barkeep was photographed in the midst of the complicated mixing procedure.

The HQ also featured a live band which was… not to my liking either. Lots of very soft rock-esque covers of non-soft rock songs. I guess if they really rocked out, no one would be able to talk but… eh, not my cup of tea.

I know it sounds like I’m whining and miserable, but I really wasn’t. Don and I made our way to the corner of the HQ, and we ran into all the festival regulars; all the friends we’ve come to love over the years. And Don made a new friend, a golden swan, which he tried to turn into his pipe… or something…

It wasn’t all fun and games, however. We’re in town to cover the festival, and the first event on the docket was the red carpet for the opening night film, “The Rocker.”

For the record, that red carpet was a f*****g nightmare. Not because of any poor planning or anything like that, but because the sun was beating down on all of us as if God itself was brandishing a magnifying glass and attempting to smite film journalists. Still, we persevered, particularly because we were next to a legend in the red carpet covering business, Mr. Robin Leach!

Reunited and it feels so good! Last year we stood by Mr. Leach as he interviewed the “Ocean’s Thirteen” crew, and we were puzzled by this odd, huge stain on the carpet directly in front of him. No stain this year, however, so all was good… kind of.

See, Robin is a professional. He’s been doing this s**t longer than I’ve been alive to use the word “s**t,” and he doesn’t suffer fools lightly… and Don and I can be quite foolish. For example, when Artistic Director (and all-around kick-a*s guy) Trevor Groth walked by, Don and I cheered for him as loudly as if he were Brad Pitt… which got us a stern reprimand from Mr. Leach, something along the lines of a condescending “press, behave” variety. Our other jokes about the most obnoxious questions we could ask also didn’t impress him and, well, respect is due but he sure wasn’t fun to be around today.

The aforementioned Trevor Groth gets interviewed, followed shortly by Dennis Hopper…

And Dennis was followed by… well, we don’t know what the Hell all of this nonsense was about. This group showed up in a tour bus that brought in Rainn Wilson and the rest of the cast of “The Rocker”…

Having seen the movie, and not seeing any of these people in it, I still don’t know why they were there. People on the carpet who were in the movie, however, included Jane Lynch…

…and one of the funniest motherfuckers on SNL, Mr. Fred Armisen…

After Fred, it was finally our time to talk to Rainn Wilson, and I couldn’t wait. I had but one question to ask him that got right to the point of what I, and so many others, have been thinking about whenever “The Rocker” is mentioned. We’ve got the entire interview on camera, and that’ll show up on the site later, but essentially I asked Rainn, if he could say one thing to everyone out there, what would he say to convince people that “The Rocker” is nothing like “School of Rock.” For the answer, you’ll have to watch the video, but kudos to him for being a sport about it and not shying away from the question.

After the red carpet, Don and I headed in for the screening of “The Rocker” and… I wasn’t too keen on it. There were some incredible one-liners by Jason Sudeikis, and Demetri Martin has a hilarious cameo, but overall I was not fond of the film at all. Don was more “eh” on it, not feeling quite as negative as I did. I guess, for a comedy, it just didn’t make me laugh enough and that’s the bottom line.

When the screening ended, we bolted for the Opening Night party at Moon nightclub on the roof. We went to a similar party the year before, and it delivered just as well. Mingling in the crowd was Morgan Spurlock and his wife, as well as other festival circuit regulars. Don and I decided that tonight was low-key night, so we hung out until the club opened to the public, and then made our way back to Planet Hollywood for some late night grub (which was not without its own fun; let’s just say a debate in the cab about M. Night Shyamalan ended with the cab driver, in broken English, proclaiming his love for Charlie Chaplin).

OK, now that I got all of that out (and thanks for reading, if you did), I think… first off, it’s too early to judge anything. I didn’t think the opening night film was strong, and my mood may’ve been a bit sour because my head is bright red from the time on the red carpet, but it’s only opening night. The festival doesn’t really start, in my mind, until the first full day gets going. I mean, I never judge Sundance by the opening night, so I’m not about to start doing it with CineVegas.

Plus, it’s unfair to be too critical right now because the honest fact is that I still have last year’s opening night in my memory and… “Ocean’s Thirteen” with practically the full cast in attendance can not be fairly compared to the few folks from “The Rocker” who made it out. Quite simply, that’s like putting an MLB team up against a Little League one, and then criticizing the Little League one for getting their a***s handed to them. You just can’t do it.

So, I think CineVegas stumbled out the gate a little bit, but the race is far from over. I’m here for the full duration watching films, and I’ve loved the ones I’ve seen thus far, so I can only imagine good things are to come. This is my fourth year at CV, and they’ve delivered bigger and better every year. They set a ridiculously high bar last year, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the quality of the films and, ultimately, that’s all I really care about.

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  1. MikeWatt says:

    Hey Mark! Amy and I are in Vegas this weekend for a wedding. We’ll be at the Venetian and the Belagio tonight. If you find us, you win a prize. And by prize, I mean, whatever hooker coupon I have in my pocket at the time. I’ll be one of the guys in a tux. The one who looks like me.

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