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Sundance Film Festival

Monday, January 29, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Final Weekend Capsules

The Outrun, DEVO, Ibelin, Daughters, Ghostlight, Presence and more
DEVO *** [Premieres]Veteran documentarian Chris Smith (American Movie, Tiger King) offers a lively 50-years-on portrait of the veteran art band that offers not just a career retrospective, but a sense of how frustrating it can be for an artist to have a message that almost nobody seems to understand. From the initial meeting of founders Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale as Kent State University students in 1970, Smith spins the tale of angry Vietnam-era activists keen to spread a satirical message about human “de-evolution” in a chaotic time, and whose artistic endeavors to spread that message almost accidentally culminate in the formation of a band.

Friday, January 26, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 8 Capsules

Exhibiting Forgiveness, Porcelain War, A Different Man, Gaucho Gaucho, Ponyboi
Exhibiting Forgiveness *** [U.S. Dramatic] There are some challenging things percolating beneath the surface of writer/director Titus Kaphar's movie, which might have made even more of an impact had he not been so determined to underline things that didn’t need underlining. It’s the tale of on-the-rise visual artist Tarrell Rodin (André Holland), whose burgeoning success is unexpectedly accompanied by the reappearance of his long-absent father, La’Ron (John Earl Jelks), in recovery from years of drug addiction and seeking reconciliation for the damage he did as a father.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 7 Capsules

The Greatest Night in Pop, Union, Girls Will Be Girls, Nocturnes
The Greatest Night in Pop *** [Special Screenings]If you were there at the time—and perhaps a hipper-than-thou teenager—the 1985 all-star famine-relief hit “We Are the World” was an earnestly anthemic, well-intentioned piece of kitsch, which might make the prospect of a feature-length documentary about its creation a less-then-appealing prospect. But Bao Nguyen’s film isn’t so much celebration of the song as it is a fascinating home-movie about herding some of the most famous cats on the planet at the time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 6 Capsules

Will & Harper, Between the Temples, As We Speak, Reinas, Desire Lines, Stress Positions
Will & Harper **** [Premieres] There have been—and will be—many documentaries about humanizing the transgender experience, the process of transitioning, and the way others respond to those things, but it’s hard to imagine any will be simultaneously as heartfelt and as wildly entertaining as this one. Our subjects are actor Will Ferrell and his longtime friend/one-time Saturday Night Live head writer Harper Steele, who decide to take a 16-day New York-to-California road trip in the wake of Steele’s coming out as a trans woman at the age of 61.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 5 Capsules

Suncoast, Krazy House, In the Summers, And So It Begins, Super/Man, Kidnapping Inc.
Suncoast *** [U.S. Dramatic] The semi-autobiographical specificity connecting writer/director Laura Chinn’s story to real-world, highly-publicized events certainly gives writer/director a unique perspective, but it’s also the one thing that makes this otherwise lovely film feel a bit overstuffed. Set in early 2005 Clearwater, Florida, it deals with 17-year-old Doris (Nico Parker) and her mother (Laura Linney) as they move Doris’s terminally-ill, unresponsive older brother into hospice care—the same hospice, it turns out, that is housing Terri Schiavo, whose case involving end-of-life choices became a national lightning-rod for right-to-life protesters.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Sundance 2024: The Buzz on Main Street for 1/22

DoorDash, Napoleon Dynamite tater tots and celebrating a super/man
The first Sunday of the 40th Sundance Film Festival was filled with swag and cinema for me. The festival, now in full swing, again welcomed film enthusiasts worldwide to celebrate independent storytelling.

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 4 Capsules

A Real Pain, My Old Ass, Realm of Satan, Good One, Every Little Thing, Igualada
A Real Pain ***1/2 [U.S. Dramatic] While it’s far from the most interesting thing about the movie, the double-entendre in the title of writer/director Jesse Eisenberg’s second feature captures both the essence of a love-to-hate-him central character, and the story’s understanding that genuine hurt—whether your own, or someone else’s—can be hard to process. Eisenberg and Kieran Culkin play David and Benji Kaplan, cousins who decide to take a guided Jewish history tour of Poland, the native country of their recently-deceased, Holocaust-survivor grandmother.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 3 Capsules

Hit Man, Sasquatch Sunset, Love Machina, Handling the Undead, Eternal You
Hit Man ***1/2 [Spotlight]Richard Linklater has spent more than 30 years being so good at making risk-taking indie cinema that it’s easy to forget how great he can also be at pure pop entertainment. Wildly fictionalized from the story of a real person, it follows Gary Johnson (Glen Powell), a philosophy professor who moonlights as an audio technician for New Orleans Police Department sting operations—until he’s called into undercover duty himself to pose as a contract killer, trying to nab those attempting to "hire" him.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Sundance 2024: The Buzz on Main Street for 1/20

Checking the sponsor houses and chatter at the center of Sundance
The 40th Edition of the Sundance Film Festival kicked off on Jan. 18, marking a landmark year for the world's premier showcase for independent film.

2024 Sundance Film Festival - Day 2 Capsules

Love Me, Thelma, I Saw the TV Glow, Dìdi, A New Kind of Wilderness
Love Me ***1/2 [U.S. Dramatic]I feel fairly confident that I won’t be the only person short-handing the debut feature from writer/director team Sam & Andy Zuchero as “WALL-E, if instead of WALL-E learning about human love from Hello, Dolly, he learned about it from YouTube”—but it turns out to be a bit more complicated than that. Five hundred years after the apocalyptic end of humanity, an ocean sensor buoy achieves self-awareness, and makes contact with a satellite launched as a final digital repository of the human experience.

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