Ahead of this weekend's Academy Awards, one more Oscar-nominated animated feature comes to town, along with an odd assortment of multiplex offerings for a traditional box-office dead zone. The Oscar-nominated animated feature The Red Turtle (pictured) might come from Studio Ghibli, but brings a unique style to its emotional, nearly-wordless story.
Two Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees and the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts come to town, along with a trio of multiplex releases featuring broad comedy, rampaging monsters and eels (not all in the same movie). Maren Ade's sweet, weirdly hilarious Toni Erdmann (pictured) takes a familiar What Really Matters premise and crafts a unique portrait of a father/daughter relationship.
The post-Sundance week reveals delayed-from-2016 leftovers, DeNiro again trying to be a king of comedy and Pedro Almodóvar taking on Alice Munro. In The Comedian, Robert DeNiro (pictured) plays an ex-sitcom star in a premise that's like BoJack Horseman, only without the wit or pathos.
A Ghost Story (NEXT) ****
The idea that a person in a sheet with two eyeholes could represent something transcendently mournful about humanity seems ridiculous, but that's exactly what writer/director David Lowery pulls off in this breathtaking work. It's best to go in mostly blind regarding plot details; suffice it to say that a married couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) is involved, along with the aforementioned linens-clad spectre haunting their home.
Previewing the signups and awards showcase happening at the U.
We literally just came out of the film festival mayhem today, and already there are local organizations working to create new film festivals and exhibitions. A brand-new showcase called the Faultline Film Awards was launched by the University of Utah students who help run the Daily Chronicle and Wasatch Magazine.
One week in, a summary of this year's biggest festival stories.
Only a few days of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival remain, and it's been an odd year for the event. From the weather to the intrusion of real-world political events, Sundance often felt like the movies were less at the forefront than usual.
Hologram Hamm, Egyptian noir and journalism in peril.
Marjorie Prime (Premieres) **1/2
Writer/director Michael Almereyda adapts Jordan Harrison's 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist play in a way that somehow flattens the human emotion into chilly science fiction, leaving its ideas to drift like thesis statements. In an unspecified near future, 86-year-old Marjorie (Lois Smith), experiencing progressive dementia, receives therapeutic assistance in the form of a holographic computer program simulating her dead husband, Walter (Jon Hamm) while being cared for by her daughter (Geena Davis) and son-in-law (Tim Robbins).
Bad girls, bad cops and a bad take on societal isolation.
The Last Word (Premieres) **1/2
Were she to die tomorrow, the first sentence of Shirley MacLaine's obituary would read: “Oscar-winning actress who starred in such films as The Apartment and Terms of Endearment, and became known for New Age beliefs.” Her headstrong elderly doyenne Harriet in The Last Word wants to know how her obituary will read now, while she's alive. But as another character puts it, “she put the 'bitch' in obituary,” leaving the local paper's obituary writer (Amanda Seyfried) a tall task.