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Sundance Film Festival

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 9

Relic, Dream Horse, Spaceship Earth, Once Upon a Time in Venezuela and more
Relic *** [Midnight]It was fascinating to realize not just that one of Sundance 2020’s recurring themes was dealing with the escalating dementia of an elder parent, but the range of approaches a filmmaker could take to that subject: in Dick Johnson is Dead as gallows humor, in The Father as psychological drama, and here as body horror.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 8

The Father, Welcome to Chechnya, The Truffle Hunters, Some Kind of Heaven and more
The Father *** [Premieres] There are plenty of melodramatic ways to tell a story about an older man reaching a moment where he can no longer care for himself; Florian Zeller, adapting his own play with Christopher Hampton, turns it into a harrowing sort of psychological thriller.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sundance 2020 Reviews: Day 7

Wander Darkly, Lost Girls, Horse Girl, The Social Dilemma, Dinner in America and more
Wander Darkly **1/2 [U.S. Dramatic] There are times when you are watching a movie, and you can just smell it building to a Big Reveal that’s gonna irritate the hell out of you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sundance 2020 Reviews: Day 6

Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story, Tesla, Nine Days, Feels Good Man and more
Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story ***1/2 [Documentary Premieres] “Warts and all” documentaries have an inherent intrigue, but there’s a particular jolt that comes from what this story ultimately explores. On the most basic level, it’s the story of the groundbreaking 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon series The Ren & Stimpy Show, focusing on creator John Kricfalusi and his team of innovative animators.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 5

Minari, The Nest, Wendy, Be Water, The Evening Hour, Into the Deep and more
Minari **** [U.S. Dramatic] Lee Isaac Chung’s debut feature Munyurangabo was one of the best films of 2007; I missed Chung’s two subsequent features—an oversight that this emotionally involving, frequently hilarious semi-autobiographical drama is more than enough to persuade me to rectify. Ideally cast and exquisitely acted, Minari follows a Korean family moving from California to the Arkansas Ozarks, where Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) hopes to farm.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 4

Shirley, The Nowhere Inn, Dick Johnson Is Dead, Herself, Palm Springs and more
Shirley **** [U.S. Dramatic] Or, Who’s Afraid of Shirley Jackson?, only directed not as a stage play, but as a wholly-cinematic piece of subjective surrealism while all the cutting dialogue remains. Director Josephine Decker made a splash here two years ago with Madeline’s Madeline, a masterpiece of art as insanity and as the cannibalization of its subjects.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sundance 2020: Main Street Madness

Those who haven't experienced it might not realize that there isn't just one Sundance Film Festival. There's the part that's seeing movies in Park City, which in itself is different from the part that's seeing movies in Salt Lake City.

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 3

Never Rarely Sometimes Always, The Go-Go's, Boys State, Bad Hair and more
Never Rarely Sometimes Always ***1/2 [U.S. Dramatic] The narrative around writer/director Eliza Hittman's feature is going to be that it's about abortion, but that's not the case. Not really.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 2

Zola, Come Away, Rebuilding Paradise, Black Bear, Collective and more
Zola *** [U.S. Dramatic] “Based on the tweet thread by ...” feels like a cruel joke version of storytelling in the social-media age, but director Janicza Bravo and her co-writer Jeremy O. Harris pull out the stops in providing a spark of punky energy to this probably kinda mostly true story. In October 2015, waitress A'Ziah “Zola” King (Taylour Page) meets Stefani Jezowski (Riley Keough) while at work, and the two become instant BFFs.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sundance 2020 reviews: Day 1

Miss Americana, Crip Camp, Summertime, The Perfect Candidate and more
Miss Americana *** [Documentary Premieres] The literal first image in Lana Wilson's documentary about Taylor Swift is of Swift playing piano while a kitten scampers playfully across the keys. It's a somewhat ominous portent—hinting at carefully curated marketing tool for the singer/songwriter's “good girl” image—but Wilson ultimately takes viewers on a more complicated journey.

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