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Sundance Film Festival

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 7

Sing Street, Christine, Yoga Hosers, Kiki, Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, A Good Wife
Sing Street [Premieres] ★ ★ ★ ½ Disclaimer alert: A musical romance directed by John Carney (Once), set in Ireland and built on an affectionate skewering of 1980s MTV aesthetics might as well be custom-designed to my particular specifications. But there’s still an ocean of charm in this tale set in 1985 Dublin, where 15-year-old Connor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) responds to life upheavals—a new school, his parents’ fighting and a crush on mysterious older girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton)—by starting a band.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 6

Birth of a Nation, Kate Plays Christine, Wiener-Dog, Newtown, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Wiener-Dog [Premieres] ★ ★ ★ Todd Solondz’s caustic view of the world hasn’t changed much in the 20 years since Welcome to the Dollhouse, but sometimes he can deliver just enough pitch-black humor to sweeten the despair. Here he follows a forlorn-looking dachshund through several owners: a boy (Keaton Nigel Cooke) recently recovered from illness; a film studies professor (Danny DeVito) whose own writing career is going nowhere; an elderly woman (Ellen Burstyn); and even Dollhouse’s own Dawn Wiener (Greta Gerwig).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 5

Southside With You, Lo and Behold, Manchester By The Sea, Weiner, Sand Storm, Holy Hell
Southside With You [U.S. Dramatic] ★ ★ ½ On some level, this enterprise was doomed from conception, because there are only two ways you can tell this story—inspired by one long day in Chicago in the summer of 1989 that marked the first date between Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and his future wife Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter)—and both are fraught with peril. On the one hand, you could remind viewers that these two people were just ordinary folks like you and me: young legal intern Barack with his rusted-floorboard car and smoking habit; young associate Michelle fond of chocolate ice cream and willing to jump into the group dancing in a drum circle.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 4

Tickled, Certain Women, Love and Friendship, Under the Shadow, Plaza de la Soledad
Tickled [World Documentary] ★ ★ ★ ½ New Zealand journalist David Farrier thought he was just going to find a subject for his light-hearted, pop-culture-focused features when he started investigating videos he found online for “Competitive Endurance Tickling.” Instead, he found the subject for a documentary that just gets weirder, funnier, more fascinating and more layered as it goes. Farrier (who co-directed with Dylan Reeve) begins trying to understand why the media company that promoted these tickling videos responded to him with insults, harassment and legal threats, and in so doing uncovers a story that could go back 20 years.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 3

Morris from America, Swiss Army Man, NUTS!, Operation Avalanche, Green Room
Morris from America [U.S. Dramatic] ★ ★ ★ In some ways, it’s the most familiar kind of coming-of-age story; in other ways, it’s completely distinctive. Funny, generous and gently observational, writer/director Chad Hartigan’s story deals with 13-year-old Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas), a black kid from New York living in Heidelberg, Germany with his widowed soccer coach father (Craig Robinson) and dealing with both cultural disconnection and budding adolescent dramas like his crush on a worldly older girl.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 2

Author, The Free World, Sonita, Ali & Nino, The Bad Kids, The Lure, Rams
The Bad Kids [U.S. Documentary]★ ★ ★ ½ Like many documentaries of this kind, this year-in-the-life study—set at Black Rock High School, a continuation school in California’s 29 Palms area of the Mojave Desert, with a population of kids at high risk of dropping out—focuses on a few specific individuals. There’s Joey, the talented musician struggling with his mom’s drug addiction as well as his own; there’s Lee, trying to juggle school with sharing care of his infant son; there’s Jennifer, hoping to graduate early despite a troubled family history.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sundance Film Festival Capsules: Day 1

Other People, Belgica, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You and Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang
If there were a “Sundance indie comedy” bingo card, this one would hit enough boxes for a jackpot: gay artist estranged from family members; sensitive guy returning to his hometown; terminal illness; family sing-along.

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