The Sundance Film Festival’s passionate embrace of gluttony, progressiveness and general pandemonium is at odds with this sleepy ski town in a deeply conservative state. Park City, Utah, is a place where a beer has only 3.2 percent alcohol—except during Sundance, when every available space is turned into a corporate-sponsored blowout for a week straight. This is a place that shut down legal gay marriage after a few days on the books—except during Sundance, when Lance Bass is the toast of the town. This is a place that closes by midnight so you can hit the slopes at dawn—except during Sundance, when bar-hopping all night segues into mansion-hopping until morning.
The Transom arrived Thursday to find the town hunkering down for the imposing storm. By the following afternoon, Main Street was in full-on promotion mode, and the masses took it all in, their brains slicked with liquor and eyes drawn in by flashing lights among the gray mountains.
“What a fucking life,” sighed Philip Seymour Hoffman, walking down into the crowd through what is usually a gluten-free eatery, transformed into the aftery-party for his movie God’s Pocket (a movie we didn’t see). “What a fucking life.”
Next was a party for Laggies (another movie we didn’t see, if you’re sensing a theme) at Blue Door (usually an art gallery that was once upon a time two saloons), where the sheer volume of Grey Goose cocktails being poured would give a Utah politician a heart attack. Here, Marisa Tomei sat on the lap of an uncomfortable-looking Sam Rockwell, and one patron stopped a producer to tell him, “I see you everyday at Equinox, but I’ve never seemed to connect the dots.”
Elsewhere, Luke Wilson and Bill Hader were having a conversation about a critic they particularly hated who had given their film, The Skeleton Twins, a good review.
“It’s like saying Charlie Manson liked your movie,” Mr. Wilson said.
“Yeah, the Korean dictator, he loved it,” Mr. Hader said.
At Entertainment Weekly’s party for Wish I Was Here—Zach Braff’s nonawaited, Kickstarter-funded sequel to Garden State—it was a surprise, though not entirely inappropriate, to find one of the biggest pop stars in the world, One Direction’s Harry Styles, hanging out with Mr. Braff’s girlfriend.
“I just came to see Zach’s film; it was kind of a last-minute trip,” Mr. Styles said as a bunch of younger girls nearly fainted around him.
By Sunday, usually Park City’s day of rest, it was now time for a highly necessary boozy brunch, this one a tasting of Auchentoshan scotches at Interview magazine’s Snow Lodge, an outpost of Montauk’s Surf Lodge bar.
“How many of you have never properly drank scotch?” asked the host, before pointing at one person who raised her hand. “What’s your name?”
“Katie,” Katie Couric said.
“Well, you have to inhale sharply and then take a generous sip,” the host said.
Ms. Couric downed the scotch.
Later in the night, Glenn Close was using her iPhone to have her picture taken with Flea, and Joe Swanberg was celebrating his new film, Happy Christmas.
“When are we gonna turn the lights down and get crazy?” Anna Kendrick asked Mr. Swanberg, taking a long swig of a Stella. They would do exactly that later in the night, when a string of hip-hop songs at an event for the film Life After Beth inspired an impromptu dance party, where Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Ms. Kendrick and a very sweaty Mr. Swanberg deliriously jumped around to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj.
Sundance went on and on, though the realization came pretty quickly: None of this had much to do with movies.