The Nightmare review

The last thing you probably ever want to see is a literal recreation of your deepest, darkest nightmares. In The Nightmare, director Rodney Ascher (Room 237) has done just that. The film explores the condition commonly referred to as “sleep paralysis.” That’s a condition where someone is in bed, but totally physically immobilized. Some who suffer from the condition – including the eight subjects in this documentary – feel they are visited by something evil during these periods. Ascher lets these subjects tell their stories, then we watch them play out on screen. It’s absolutely horrifying, if not wholly rewarding. Read more of our The Nightmare review below. Read More »

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Turbo Kid

You can’t throw a rock at Sundance without hitting a coming-of-age tale, but it’s safe to say Turbo Kid is different from most. The Park City at Midnight entry follows an orphaned boy (Munro Chambers) in a retro-futuristic, post-apocalyptic 1997. After his best friend (Laurence Leboeuf) is kidnapped by the evil Zeus (Michael Ironside), he sets out across the Wasteland on his BMX bike to find her.

Co-director Anouk Whissell describes it as “an old crazy 80s kid movie,” while co-director François Simard adds that it’s “made for the inner children in all of us.” (Yoann-Karl Whissell is the third co-director.) But it’s not made for people who are also children on the outside — it’s gleefully gory, as you’ll see from the first Turbo Kid trailer after the jump.

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Last Days in the Desert

In Rodrigo Garcia‘s beautiful and lush film Last Days in the Desert, the journey is uncertain for a while. We follow Jesus, played by Ewan McGregor, as he enters the desert on a journey for truth. “Father, speak to me,” he says. As he walks and thinks, he begins to see visions of Satan, also played by McGregor. He meets a family out in the desert, and the audience may initially wonder what those people are doing out there. But eventually it clicks. We realize the point, just as Jesus probably realizes the point in the narrative, and the film blossoms into something beautiful but not entirely fulfilling. Read more of our Last Days in the Desert review below. Read More »

Racing Extinction review

The Cove director Louie Psihoyos returns to Sundance in 2015 with a new call to action. Racing Extinction is a more wide-ranging documentary than its predecessor, albeit one that is just as sharply produced, and no less stirring. Psihoyos says his intention was to go a lot bigger, and the film follows through by offering a sort of omnibus catalog of several interrelated problems facing life on Earth. If anything, Racing Extinction is too broad to give ample time to every subject, but the sum total of Psihoyos’ efforts is devastatingly effective. Read More »

Going Clear Movie Review

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is a good primer for, and a very damning and powerful indictment of the church of Scientology. Unfortunately, the film provides little in terms of new revelations, and viewers who have researched the church will find most of the documentary to be familiar ground. Read my Going Clear movie review after the jump.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl review

On paper, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl doesn’t seem particularly exciting. An adaptation of a book by Jesse Andrews, it’s the story of a high school senior who is forced to become friends with a school acquaintance who is diagnosed with leukemia.

Interesting, yes but not that exciting. Thankfully, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t merely on paper. It’s a film — in fact, a film that loves film, celebrates film, and is very much about the medium – with beautiful shot composition, tense long takes and elaborate tracking shots. It tells a touching and incredibly funny story with very realistic, honest characters and enough self-awareness to make it all feel modern. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and adapted by Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival this weekend. Read our Me and Earl and the Dying Girl review here. Read More »

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Cop Car review

Cop Car has the brutal elegance of old-school crime fiction. Two young kids find a seemingly abandoned sheriff’s cruiser in a stand of trees. One thing leads to another, and soon they’re off on a joyride through the countryside. But the sheriff wants his car back, and there’s another wild card factor, too, which draws a noose around all their necks.

Few deeds go unpunished in this daylight noir. Yet even through the increasingly grim action an innocence is maintained that sets Cop Car apart from recent companion films such as Cold in July, The Guest, and Blue Ruin. Getting reductive for a moment, Cop Car is like an Amblin film filtered through the twisted vision of the Coen Brothers. It’s a midnight movie blast. Read More »

The End of the Tour review

Tom Hanks had Philadelpha, Jim Carrey had The Truman Show and now Jason Segel has The End of the Tour. It’s a powerhouse movie announcing to the world that this comedic actor is a dramatic force too. But that’s just one of the many, many good things that can be said about director James Ponsoldt’s fourth feature film.  Below, continue our End of the Tour review.

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Mistress America review

Noah Baumbach’s movies have never been easy to describe. Each one blends so many different tones, sensibilities and genres that simply describing his movies as one thing doesn’t work. Calling The Squid and the Whale a family drama doesn’t seem right. Frances Ha isn’t just a coming of age story and Greenberg isn’t just a movie about self-discovery.

That lack of easy categorization is probably the only thing Baumbach’s latest film, Mistress America, shares with the director’s other films. Well, that and his co-writer and star Greta Gerwig. Mistress America is by far Baumbach’s funniest film, anchored by a completely new sort of performance from Gerwig, and blessed with a script so smart and sharp, many of the film’s jokes don’t land for a few seconds because A) you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that and B) it’s just so damn intelligent.

Mistress America had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and you can read the rest of our Mistress America review below. Read More »