02/01/2013 09:05 am ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Sundance Envy: Kill Your Darlings to Shakespearean Villain: House of Cards

Back in 2007 when I first took on, I wrote about "Sundance Envy," an oft misdiagnosed disease with one symptom: celluloid deprivation in January. Dr. Freud, are you listening? It is not that I yearn for icy ski conditions. This year Sundance seemed particularly alluring to me with two beat era films, movies of Kerouac's Big Sur and of his 1945 collaboration with William S. Burroughs, And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks, published in 2008, that became Kill Your Darlings. The latter boasted a big star: Daniel Radcliffe, and some indie favorites: Ben Foster and Elizabeth Olsen, two television stars (Michael C. Hall and Jack Huston) and one newcomer, Dane DeHaan. Touted as a little-known scandal, for me, the story of the murder of Dave Kammerer (Hall) by Lucien Carr (DeHaan), the young would be poet he was stalking ever since they met in the boy scouts, years before, was a story I knew quite well from Jack Kerouac's books The Town & the City, Vanity of Duluoz, and a ton of secondary literature.

Kill Your Darlings made big news at Sundance, with a standing ovation on opening night. Sony Picture Classics picked it up for distribution. Plus, it was one of four films -- along with Lake Bell's In a World, Jill Solloway's Afternoon Delight and Francesca Gregorini's Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes -- to be celebrated at the inaugural Next Generation Filmmaker Series with classy dinners, the brainchild of BMF Media Group.

Fodder for last week's news and tabloids, many of the Sundance crowd showed up for the New York premiere of House of Cards, an innovative Netflix series to stream starting February 1 starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, majority whip of the U. S. House of Representatives playing very much the sort of Macchiavellian character he did so superbly as Richard III at BAM last year. The series is about political wheelings and dealings, payback and revenge that would make Shakespeare proud. Writer Beau Willimon acknowledged stealing from the master: do it any time you can. Come to think of it, those manipulations are the context for Lincoln too, from another political era. But add to that the exquisite character of Spacey's wife Claire, played by Robin Wright, a Lady Macbeth with a chill and metaphoric blood on her hands.

The audience for the David Fincher directed premiere at Alice Tully Hall included George Stephanopoulos, who has a cameo in the second episode, and Rooney Mara, who stopped by after a screening of Side Effects to support her sister Kate who plays a young, ambitious journalist a little bit out of her element but holding her own with Spacey's evil character. Ben Foster was there too, supporting Wright.

When Ben Foster was asked how the Kill Your Darlings screening went at Sundance, he said, it was fine. But, as part of his process (and like me), he hasn't yet seen the film.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.