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Friday, February 1, 2019

Sundance 2019 Music Wrap-Up

The best performances and conversations with musicians in Park City
Sundance Film Festival might seem like it’s all about movies, but music plays a major role in the annual 10-day event as well.

Sundance Update: Friday, Feb. 1

Honey Boy, Sweetheart, The Brink, One Child Nation and more.
Honey Boy (U.S. Dramatic) * No point in mincing words: I found this enterprise distasteful—essentially a Daddie Dearest for the therapeutic society. Scripted by Shia LeBeouf, it tells two parallel stories involving Otis, a child-adult star very like LeBeouf.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sundance Update: Thursday, Jan. 31

The Report, Cold Case Hammerskjold, Official Secrets, Light from Light and more
The Report (Premieres) *** An elegantly-made information dump is still an information dump, and that is indeed what writer/director/longtime Steven Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns offers in his paper-chase political thriller surrounding the investigation into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Adam Driver plays Dan Jones, a staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee who heads up a task force trying to get to the bottom of why the CIA tortured prisoners, and what if anything was gained.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sundance Update: Wednesday, Jan. 30

Big Time Adolescence, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Before You Know It and more
Big Time Adolescence (U.S. Dramatic) *** Hypotheticallly speaking, if this movie consisted solely of 90 minutes of Pete Davidson smiling goofily at the world and describing everything as “sick,” it might still be hella-fun to watch. It turns out to be more than that, following the friendship between 16-year-old high-school student Mo (Griffin Glick) and his unlikely best friend: 23-year-old Zeke, the pot-smoking, layabout ex-boyfriend of Mo's sister.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sundance Update: Tuesday, Jan. 29

Knock Down the House, Little Monsters, Them That Follow, The Last Black Man in San Francisco and more
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Premieres) *1/2 Charismatic psycho killers are a well-established type in Hollywood mythology, but while Ted Bundy was the real deal, Joe Berlinger’s true-crimes thriller embraces the Hollywood myth. Zac Efron gives a committed performance, not as Bundy exactly, but as Bundy’s public face at its most presentable: the smooth charm and magnetism Ted turns on for single-mom Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), with whom he becomes involved, and others from potential victims to authorities.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sundance Update: Monday, Jan. 28

The Wolf Hour, The Hole in the Ground, Hala, The Farewell and more
The Wolf Hour (NEXT) **1/2 If you want to see Chekhov’s gun rule violated, the Son of Sam (or is it?) not kill someone, a novel get written in a week, a chain-smoking Naomi Watts and the 1977 New York City blackout as the third-act instigator—here is your movie.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sundance Update: Sunday, Jan. 27

Late Night, The Nightingale, The Lodge, Dirty God, The Sound of Silence and more
Late Night (Premieres)  *** It would be the height of un-self-awareness for a white dude writer to suggest that the main thing holding back Mindy Kaling's crowd-pleaser of a script is going too easy on the stacked deck in favor of white dude writers, but, well … yeah. She plays Molly Patel, an inexperienced would-be comedy writer who lands her first gig as an openly-stated “diversity hire” for a long-lived late-night talk show hosted by Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson).

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sundance Update: Saturday, Jan. 26

Paddleton, Hail Satan?, Share, The Disappearance of My Mother and more
Paddleton (Premieres) ***1/2 There's a moment about mid-way through Paddleton when Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are checking into a hotel while on a road trip together, and the proprietor just assumes that they must be a gay couple. There's a deep connection between them, she senses, and culturally we simply don't have a language for love between two men that is purely platonic.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Movie Reviews: The Kid Who Would Be King, Stan & Ollie, Serenity

Family-friendly Arthurian legend and the story of a legendary comedy duo lead the multiplex offerings during this opening Sundance Film Festival weekend.

Sundance Update: Friday, Jan. 25

After the Wedding, Native Son, Apollo 11 and more
After the Wedding (Premieres)  **1/2 Virtually every time Michelle Williams gets a lead role in a movie, the inevitable response is “Michelle Williams should get a lead role in more movies." She makes for a pretty solid Mads Mikkelsen in writer/director Bart Freundlich's gender-swapped English-language remake of the 2006 Susanne Bier drama, starring as Isabelle, the manager of an orphanage in India who is summoned to New York by millionaire media tycoon Theresa (Julianne Moore, Freundlich's real-life partner) to be considered for a sizeable donation.

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