Pissing In The Punch Bowl At The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Part 2: I'm An Assassin, Not A Blogger

***TAKEN FROM THE JOURNALS OF UZI SILVERSTEIN***

CHAPTER 3: I'M AN ASSASSIN, NOT A BLOGGER

I've only know Eli Atzmon for an hour and I already don't like the kid.

We're having lunch at 501 on Main, a hip free range organic eatery that's well known for being the only gourmet vegan friendly restaurants in Park City.

Of course Eli is a Vegan. We had to spend forty minutes walking around town trying to find a place where he could eat.

He's now happily slurping up a plate of baked ratatouille.

I've intentionally ordered the pot roast just to annoy him.

It's about 2pm on Thursday, January 16th and the festival madness has officially begun. The otherwise quiet ski resort town for the rich and famous is now under siege by celebrity actors, directors, producers, film buyers, reporters, and throes of young hopefuls trying to get their first big break.

It's nearly impossible to hold a normal conversation over the clatter of noise in the packed restaurant. As far as I can tell, every Brooklynite who's ever held a camera in their life must be jammed into here, all of them audibly dissecting their meatless meals like an algebra equation, talking to each other while simultaneously texting on their phones.

And have I mentioned that I really don't like this Eli Atzmon? He's a damn strange person and not much of a conversationalist. He keeps staring at me like he caught me sleeping with his mother when he was a teenager. Even stranger is that he keeps asking me what I thought about his last film, Life One F Stop at a Time, and I keep telling him that I've never seen it,and I know he doesn't believe me. I can't imagine why he's so certain that I would lie to him about it.

He's been acting as though he doesn't really believe anything I've told him so far and I'm rather offended by that. I just don't understand what his deal is.

I'm here on a forced favor for an agent that I also don't really like, and the more time I waste with Eli, the more I find my patience being pushed to its limit.

I've had enough of Eli's bizarre and rude behavior so I excuse myself to use the bathroom. But

I don't head back to the toilets. Instead, I leave the restaurant, walk halfway down the bustling sidewalk, and step into the first pub that I find.

I push my way through the herd of sun glass and scarf wearing attention whoring cattle and make my way to the bar where I order a Genevieve single malt scotch double and a pint of their strongest IPA.

I down the beer like a fraternity brother at rush, but take my time with the 12 year aged whiskey.

I allow myself twenty minutes at the pub before I back track to the vegan restaurant where I find Eli waiting for me.

I lie and tell them that the pot roast isn't agreeing with me, and ironically, for the first time, Eli believes me.

I make one last effort to get Eli to talk about his next project but he skirts the topic again. I thought I was here to listen to his pitch but I haven't heard a word on it yet.

I'm going to be sure to use all of this against Yosef the next time I'm unfortunate enough to be stuck having another lunch meeting with him.

I take a sip from my wine glass pleased with the developing buzz coming on from the drinks I had a few doors down.

The moment I swallow the alcohol though, I notice that it tastes off. I can't quite place it at first. The wine was fine before I had left the table. I wonder if the beer and whiskey may have offset my palette, but I don't think that it's it.

I take another sip of the wine and let it rest on my tongue. I feel the inside of my mouth begin to numb a little and I know what the subtle change in flavor is. It's diphenhydramine, a very potent knock out drug. I should know; I've used it numerous times before during my time as a spy.

Eli has spiked my drink. He's eating his ratatouille again as a distraction. He doesn't want to look me in the eyes right now. He can't hide the look of shame in his face. I place my right palm on the dinner table and close my eyes. I can feel his quickening heart rate pulsating from his hand resting next to his plate through the table.  Blood never lies and Eli's heart is pumping enough of it to tell me that he's terrified right now.

I have a minute tops before I begin to lose consciousness. I don't have time to think. I can't begin to try and work out a reason why Eli would have drugged me. I have to act. I have to get out of here before I black out.

I don't excuse myself this time. Eli knows what he's done, and from the way he's shaking, I suspect that he knows that I now know.

I don't bother to put my coat back on. Every second matters.  I quickly exit the restaurant and head back down the sidewalk desperately searching for a taxi to get into before Eli catches up to me.

I'm afraid to turn my head to check if he's following me yet. I have to be in tune with every movement that my body makes as the wrong one will only speed up the drug's reaction with in my system.

I break into a power walk but avoid sprinting so as not to call any unwanted attention to myself. I want to get lost in the crowd of festival spectators. I don't want Eli to see where I'm headed.

But I feel my knees beginning to buckle. I know I'm not going to make it much further. I'm not going to find a cab. I'm going to pass out momentarily and I'm going to be taken by Eli. With my remaining time still conscious, I text Rani's cell with Eli's number. I lose control of my fingers by the time I finish writing, "Track this cell now.  Eli Atzmon. Find me before..."

I have just enough will power to ditch my cell in a nearby trash can before I collapse on the ground.

I'm somewhere halfway between consciousness and slumber when I hear Eli explaining to passerbys around me that I've had too much to drink, and that he'll make sure I get home all right.

I feel my body being lifted and dumped into the backseat of a taxi just before I pass out completely.

CHAPTER 4: DO THE MUMBLE GRIND CORE

It's approximately seven hours later when I finally wake up in the high school gymnasium with my hands tied behind my back and feel the frigid jumper cable clamps biting down on each of my testicles.

Eli is already yelling at me.  Spit hits my face as he screams, "Wake up, blogger! Wake up, blogger!"

I don't understand any of it. I wonder if I've died and gone to hell in crazy town.

But Eli is all too happy to explain it to me. As soon as he's sure that I'm up and aware enough to understand him, he goes into a long monologue explaining how his last film was ruined by a review, and this review was written by a blogger named Greg Christie, and how he knows that I'm that reviewer.

His story must be over an hour long. I get lost repeatedly during his long spcheal.

I'm an assassin, not a blogger, and Eli Atzmon is a dead man talking.

And now that the mumble core director has finished explaining the reasoning behind his vengeance towards Greg Christie, he's divulged to slinging insults at me.

"You're not even a good writer, Greg. You think you're above everything but you're not. Just how dependent on adverbs are you huh? You're maybe only a half notch above Stephanie Meyers. You're just an angry trolling loser who never made it as a filmmaker. So all you can do now is try to hurt others. You're a fucking failure, Greg.  At least I'm out there making films. Who are you to criticize me? Who are you to devalue my art? We all know you were that weird kid who sat alone at the back of the cafeteria in high school. You were alone then, and you're still alone now. You understand that internet fame is meaningless right? You know that you don't really matter don't you? I've been paid to lecture about cinema at TISCH while you write vulgar and childish rants on a website for free."

Eli's voice grows louder with every word, his body shakes with a rising rage as his insults turn to a more base string of profanity laden nick names.

"You fucking  asshole, dipshit, donkey raping child molester, mother fucker, dog masturbating, Jesus fellating, elitist ,asshole fingering, fart smelling, dick head."

And finally he starts to play the violin for himself.

"I'm fucking broke and no one's even willing to look at my film now. Two years of hard work for nothing. Just because of your stupid god damn review. I'm going to kill you!"

Eli stomps over to the generator and I lose all of my doubts as to whether he's got it in him to flip that switch.

I'm still too disorientated and weak from being drugged to escape.

I pray for a miracle. I pray for the generator to break down before my testicles are cooked into pourage.

I close my eyes and bite into the ball gag shoved into my mouth and prepare myself for the pain.

But my prayers are answered.

I hear the sharp crackle of 5 supersonic 115 grain automatic rifle rounds being fired through a Trident 9 suppressor. With each shot fired, a different light is taken out. In less than 5 seconds, the gymnasium is bathed in a blinding darkness.

I hear Eli screaming and cursing some more in frustration, and then I hear the muffled pop of another 10 rounds breaking the sound barrier before hitting flesh and breaking through bone.

Eli has gone silent; I can already assume what's happened,  particularly when I see the glare coming off of a tactical flashlight mounted to a short barreled AR -15 casting a spotlight on my face.

The mysterious man wielding the powerful weapon shines the light on his own face to reveal his identity and sure enough, it's my old friend, Rani Mattis.  My plan worked, he was able to track me through the GPS in Eli's cell phone.

Rani is fully outfitted for an operative mission wearing stealth camo and kevlar with night vision goggles.

He smiles as he unbuckles himself from a zip line running towards the ceiling of the gym.

Rani is at least ten years my senior and he just repelled upside down from a seventy five foot ceiling while firing an assault rifle in the dark.

You can take the man out of the Kidon but you can't take the Kidon out of the man.

Rani casts the single light source in the room over to Eli's now dead body. His head has been rendered a pink and chunky paste that makes me think of plate of lasagna that's been dropped on the ground.

Eli admires his work for a moment before plugging another 5 rounds into Eli's torso for good measure. I think Rani just likes the way Eli's body twitches and convulses as if it's going to spring back to zombified life with every bullet that punches a new hole in it.

Rani hasn't even removed the jumper cables from my nether region as he dances around the gym swinging his gun around exclaiming, "God damn, I feel alive! Thirty fucking years. Thirty fucking years since my last hit. Oh, Christ, why did I ever get into the movie business?"

Finally, Rani puts the gun down and releases me from my restraints. Once the ball gag has been taken out, I find that my mouth is too dry to speak and my jaw hurts like hell.

Like a college buddy who's found you passed out on the couch naked with a condom on and puke on your chest, Rani asks, "Uzi, what the fuck happened? What was this all about?"

I have trouble answering him so he walks around examining the gym a little more.

Asking no one in particular, Rani shouts, "Is that David Cross? That's a damn shame, although I was never really a fan of Mr. Show or Arrested Development, too weird for my tastes."

My friend hands me a thermos with water and I drink it all.

Rani says, "You ought to know, my friend, you shouldn't drink it too fast. That's not good for you. Although, I bet you'd prefer a bottle of Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux right now. But we need to get you up and moving fast. I have a truck parked in the rear. We need to get these bodies out of here. I've already cut the power to the entire block so we don't have worry about any security systems getting us on camera, but I'm sure someone will be on their way to investigate the power outage soon enough. What were you drugged with?"

"Diphenhydramine."

"Can you move?"

"Barely."

Rani hands me a giant syringe and commands me, "Adrenaline, now!"

I unbutton my shirt down to my stomach and stab myself in the chest with the needle. This isn't the first time I've done this either.

It hits me instantaneously. A surge in energy and strength courses through my body.  I grab David Cross' corpse by the arms and lift him over my shoulder. Rani carries Eli. He gives me a thumbs up and reminds me, "We'll have to come back to bleach the floors and mop up. We should also collect any shell casings and get those jumper cables out of here."

Two hours later and Rani and I are sitting outside by a large stone fire place behind his vacation home. We're drinking more wine and eating more cheese and crackers while an industrial woodchipper grinds up Eli and David's bodies, spitting out the remains into a dumpster which Rani will later empty out into the fire.

Rani offers a toast and proclaims, "To old times and the binding loyalties that protect us, my friend."

We clink our glasses.

Rani continues, "And to the prosperous luck in our new lives. I wish you the best with your film's big premiere this week. May you sell it for millions of dollars."

We clinks glasses again.

I watch the volcanic eruption of gore spewing out from the woodchipper and I turn to Rani and ask, "Have you ever seen Fargo?"

Rani chuckles when he tells me, "Hell, I was an executive producer on it."

CHAPTER 5: DÉJÀ VU

It's Saturday afternoon around 3pm and I'm standing outside of the Prospector Square Theater for the premiere of a film that I produced titled, So Far but Never Away.

I can't decide if 3pm is a crummy time slot or not. I would have preferred to have had an early evening screening time, but then again, by the time sun goes down, anyone here with any influence is going to be out trying their damndest to enjoy all of the complimentary drinks at the many parties. Generally, you can determine a person's status by their film viewing schedules.

The theater that's presenting our film is one of the many semi DIY makeshift cinemas set up in town for the festival. It's not a theater so much as a lodge conference hall with a screen hung up exclusively for the next week. It's not a particularly large space but it isn't the smallest either. I should feel grateful but I don't.

I feel anxious but I can't place the source. I'm still a bit disheveled from my experiences with Eli.

I haven't heard any further news, as far as I know, no one is looking for him yet, although Yosef called me to ask about the meeting and voiced his disappointment that I wouldn't be producing Eli's newest film.

"My dentist is not going to be happy about this."

He cursed me in a jumbled mix of Hebrew and  Yiddish and I cursed him in Arabic. I told him if he ever insults me again that I'll come to his home and cut out his eyes and tongue. The funny part is that Yosef thinks it's just the idle threat of an angry blow hard, he doesn't understand that I never bluff. If he does ever insults me, I will cut out his eyes and tongue, and possibly his hands too so he can never talk or write about it.

I'm smoking my first cigarette in two years, that's how nervous I am.

The film's sold out to an audience of 348 seats. I already expect divisive reviews to hit the internet in the next three days. Admittedly, the film is a piece of shit. It's one of those whiney and twee coming of age stories about a nerdy pre teen from a wealthy family who's sent on a summer vacation to Europe as a Bar Mitzvah present. He meets an older and sexually liberated manic pixie dream girl in Barcelona who helps bring the socially awkward boy out from his shell. There's an original sound track by some neo gypsy folk group from Portland that I'm told is very popular and will help bring a crowd. Also, the film has a cameo from Shia LaBeouf and with all of the controversy surrounding that idiot right now, hopefully our film will get some extra buzz.

I'm not worried about the picture's success though. I'm already in the middle of brokering a deal with IFC . There were negotiations before the film even wrapped. One of the other executive producers works in IFC's marketing department while another is one of the heads of acquisitions, so maybe you could say that this was always an IFC film although we haven't been promoting it as such. Technically, IFC already owns the picture and has it slated for a late spring release, but it's still playing in competition as an independent.

I just have a bad feeling about this screening, like something horrible is going to happen, something completely unrelated to the actual film.

I know this feeling. It's a gut instinct. I've felt it before on missions that did end up going badly. It's a sixth sense that I have. And the last time I smoked a cigarette, I lost three friends on reconnaissance in Beirut.

That's when I see him and am sideswiped by a déjà vu that hits me like a freight train.

Standing ten feet in front of me is a young man with a shaved head wearing glasses and sporting a thin mustache and neatly trimmed soul patch. Sure, that might describe ninety percent of the men under the age of forty walking around Park City right now, but I know this one. You never forget the face of a man who's shot you.

It's Greg Christie, the film blogger that Eli Atzmon wrongfully mistaken me for just two days ago.

I toss the cigarette and immediately walk over to him. I tap him on his shoulder to get his attention but don't say anything. I expect him to already know who I am.

And yet, he stares at me like a stranger.

I ask him, "Greg?"

He answers, "No, you're but close.  I'm Craig, Craig Christodoulou. Do we know each other?"

I don't know what kind of joke this is. I'm already aware that Greg likes to go around giving out fake names to people for shits and giggles, but I would hope that he wouldn't stoop so low to play tricks on a man he almost accidentally killed and left for dead.

But I also know when a man is lying to me and when I read this man's eyes, I know that he's telling the truth. Or at the very he least, he believes that he's telling the truth.

So I ask, "You don't remember me Craig?"

He looks concerned when he apologizes and explains that he doesn't.

I decide to change gears and ask him if he's here for the screening of So Far but Never Away.

He answers, "Yeah, my girlfriend wants to see it; she really likes the band that did the soundtrack."

Craig introduces a young woman standing next to him. "This is Suzie."

He reaches his hand out to me and follows up with, "But I still don't know who you are."
I shake his hand and introduce myself, "I'm Uzi Silverstein."

He laughs, "Like a sub machine gun?"

I don't find it funny. I tell him, "I'm the producer of the movie you're about to see, I hate to tell you, but it's not very good. If you want to skip it, I wouldn't be insulted. Give me your contact information and I'll send you a copy of the soundtrack."

Craig shrugs his shoulders, "Nah, we're here already and to be honest, it's the only film we've been able to tickets for. So just getting in is just about our best experience at Sundance so far."

He reaches into his pocket and fishes out a business card which he hands to me.

"Nice to meet you Uzi, I'm a filmmaker myself. Big shock right? I've got a film playing over at Slamdance called Strange Kiss and I'm looking for a producer for my next feature."

I tell Craig that I'll be in touch before he continues to head into the theater.

I'm still staring at his business card trying to figure out a possible explanation for all of this when I feel someone's hand on my right arm.

I turn my head and it's power producer, Harvey Wenstein standing next to me.

We know of each other but have never spoken in person before. Harvey was my American contact at the Mossad last year when I came to Sundance to stop a terrorist attack. It was Harvey Weinstein who mistakenly enlisted Greg Christie to stop the terrorist group that had taken Natalie Portman hostage.

Harvey skips all of the usual pleasantries as he speaks to me. With immediate urgency,

Harvey talks to me almost in Morse code. "Uzi. You must follow me. Now. The man you just talked to is not who you think he is. The Mossad needs you for one last mission. The future of cinema depends on it."

CHAPTER 6: ONE LAST MISSION. KILL THE ANTI-CHRIST. WAIT, WE BELIEVE IN THE ANIT CHRIST?


So I've missed the world premiere of a film that I've produced to follow Harvey Weinstein back to a small Cash for Gold Shop on the outskirts of the city.

And for the second time this week, I'm lead into a secret basement armory bunker where I'm surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars in death dealing tools.

Havey is standing next a six by nine foot fold out movie screen. There's a small projector hooked up to a lap top resting on a table a few feet away from him. He's giving me a power point presentation.

He shows me photograph of a large box like building engulfed in flames and asks me, "Do you remember the tragic fire at last year's Philadelphia Film festival that claimed the lives of just about everyone from that community?"

I answer, "No, why would I? How is that relevant to me?"

Harvey continues, "Officials claimed that there was a gas mane break that caused a powerful explosion which lead to the fire that burned down a large concert hall where the Philadelphia Film Office was throwing their annual party in conjunction with the film festival."

"Ok, Harvey. How does this pertain to me?"

"We have sources with inside knowledge of the events that transpired there and we now know that was no ordinary fire. It was something far more sinister."

Harvey points a small remote towards the laptop and a shaky cell phone video begins playing on the screen. The footage is heavily pixilated and the content is difficult to see, but after a moments, I begin to make out what's happening. I see giant neon colored flames erupting from a giant hole in the middle of an industrial concert hall. There are hundreds of well dressed people running around and screaming in terror. Many of them are on fire, but that's not all. It's as if the fire is chasing them. The giant flames aren't burning from the hole so much as they're leaping out like wild animals and dancing around the open the room looking for victims.  There are strange sounds as well, similar to screaming, but nothing that would come from a human being. The video ends a few seconds later.

Harvey skips to the next power point slide and presents me with a still photo, presumably taken with another cell phone. In it, a tall blonde woman in a bright red party gown with curly blonde is standing on stage at the same concert hall next to M. Night Shyamalan. There's something on the stage standing on a speaker behind the woman. It looks like a new born infant fresh from being delivered. It even appears to still be covered in the after birth. But the infant has the features and bodily proportions of an adult male. It even has facial hair and it looks just like Craig Christdoulou. It looks just like Greg Christie.

Harvey informs me, "These photos were taken just a few minutes before the video you just watched."

He skips to the next slide and there's a picture of Greg, seemingly dressed in costume as Edgar Allen Poe. He's standing amongst the crowd of party goers aiming a sub compact Glock 26 at the demon baby thing on stage.

The Power Point presentation moves on to the next photo, an image of two dead men wearing Guy Fawkes masks are laid out in front of a wrecked ski lift.

Harvey skips the explanation for this photo simply saying, "You already know about the unfortunate events at last year's Sundance Film Festival."

Another still photo pops up on the screen, this time from the Cannes Film Festival.  The picture looks like a one sheet from a drive in horror movie. I think it's set in a hotel room. It's tough to tell with all of the blood and bodies everywhere.  There must be a dozen nude dead women and a man with large side burns and multiple stab wounds.

Harvey informs me, "This is Mike Dugal. He was the independent horror film director who made big waves at Cannes last summer. You may have read about all of the big film deals he scored. It turned out he was using a psychotropic mind control drug from Colombia to make those deals. In addition to that, he was also using the narcotic to rape and murder many others. He was even developing a small army of sorts consisting of people under its influence. Someone finally found out and put a stop to him. His body was discovered two days after the festival ended."

Another video is played behind Harvey, this time taken from a security camera. It shows Greg Christie entering a hotel lobby filled with people standing motionless like zombies from The Walking Dead. I assume this is the same hotel where the previous picture was taken.

Harvey tells me, "We have our guesses as to who killed Mike Dugal."

More black and white security camera footage plays on the screen. It looks like it was recorded in a seedy dive bar. There are three men lying by a table; it appears that all of them have been shot. The bartender is standing in the background holding a shotgun towards someone or something. Sure enough, Greg Christie is standing in the middle of the bar but he doesn't have a weapon. There's an older nude man on the ground shaking as if he's having a seizure but he's not. His body twists and contorts, changing shape and form. And my god, I watch turn into a werewolf before leaping towards the bartender, tearing him apart.

Harvey says, "This took place during the last Toronto International Film Festival."

The presentation stops for a moment as Harvey continues, "After intensive investigating, we found this."

I watch another video. This one looks more professional. It's shot in HD on a camera that was set up on a tripod. It's set in the dingy basement bar of a music club. There's a jazz quartet playing on small stage barely the size of a dining room table. I don't understand the relevance of it until the camera pans around to reveal the audience watching the band.  The footage pauses and Harvey points out the relevance.

Sitting alone at the bar in the far back of the club is Greg Christie. Harvey then points to a table closer to the stage where two men are seated. And both of them are also Greg Christie. One of them has a mustache and soul patch, the either doesn't. But even with the clean shave, I can recognize who it is.

The video resumes playing and I watch as the Greg sitting at the back of the bar gets up and leaves the establishment. A few moments later, the Greg with facial hair at the table stands up and disappears towards the bathrooms behind the band. He's later followed by the other one. The camera pans back to the jazz quartet.

The footage fast forwards for a few seconds and stops just in time to reveal the Greg with the mustache running out from the bathroom area off screen. Again, he's later followed by the Greg without any facial hair.

When the video ends, Harvey continues to speak. "This video was taken at The Elephant Room, a small jazz café in Austin. What you just saw occurred in the winter of 2009. A man was murdered just a few blocks away from that café minutes after this video was recorded. His face was bashed in with a fire extinguisher and he was never properly identified."

The Power Point moves onto a crime scene photo of the victim lying dead on a city sidewalk, from the jacket he's wearing, it's clear that it's the Greg who was sitting at the back of the bar of the Jazz Café.

Harvey clarifies, "You and I both know that body belongs to Greg Christie. But police were unable to make that conclusion since Greg was also still alive at the time, at least, he appeared to be for everyone else.  How could Greg Christie have died in 2009 when he was at the Philadelphia Film Festival in 2012, Sundance and Cannes in 2013? And why is it that he suddenly dropped off the grid after Toronto this past summer? We're certain now that he is dead, and we believe it was at the hands of this Craig Christodoulou. We believe that Craig is that thing that you saw in the picture from the Philadelphia Film Festival. We believe he or IT was responsible for that fire. We believe that thing is a legitimate threat to film community. And now it's here at this Sundance film festival. You have to take him out, Uzi."

I don't understand. I've retired from the Kidon, and I don't see how this would be a relevant mission for my previous employer anyhow. So I ask, "Why me?"

"If Craig is a threat to the entire film world, then he's a threat to us all.  This demon must be destroyed!"

"But we don't believe in demons."

"Did you see those flames running around like people? I don't know what the fuck that was, but that's some evil old testament shit and I'm not comfortable with it walking around film festivals handing out fucking business cards and trying to network with me."

"But why me?"

"You're Uzi Silverstein!  You're one of the deadliest men in the fucking world.  If we need to kill a fucking demon, I want to know I've got the best on the job. There's no telling what shit this thing is capable of. Neon fucking flames chasing people like hawks, Uzi! What the fuck was that? I don't know. No one knows. I just know it needs to not exist."

"How do you even go about determining how to kill something like that?"

"I don't fucking know, look at all of the guns around you right now, I'm sure you can think of something. If you want to keep producing films and work in this business, then you're going to take this mission."

"Fine."

I agree to eliminate the thing calling itself Craig Christodoulo*


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