Columbus review

Early in Columbus, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) defends her decision to use less spice in a dish. She was going for subtlety, she explains, all the better to let the true flavors of the ingredients shine through and leave a lingering aftertaste. That, essentially, is the mission statement for the entire movie. It might not be to everyone’s tastes — it’s too delicate and slow and, yes, subtle for that. But those who stick with it will find a drama worth savoring, with echoes of OncePaterson, and the Before trilogy and fine performances from Richardson and John ChoRead More »

Nobody Speak Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press

Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday afternoon. From Brian Knappenberger comes a documentary about how the Gawker lawsuit might lead to the loss of free press in the United States. It’s an informative, fascinating, and terrifying look at how people with big pockets and large power can silence media.

Read my Nobody Speaks review after the jump.
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get out

The midnight secret screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was probably the worst kept secret in the festival’s history: It was the premiere of Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut Get Out, a Blumhouse-produced horror movie that takes on the monster of racism in modern times. Imagine Meet The Parents mixed with The Stepford Wives. It’s smart, visceral, thrilling and, of course, funny.

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Call Me By Your Name review

First love has rarely been depicted as beautifully or as movingly as it is in Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name, an adaptation of the André AcimanTimothée Chalamet, probably best known as bratty Finn Walden from season one of Homeland), has a star-making turn as a teenager exploring his sexual identity. Meanwhile, Armie Hammer, a very good actor who’s been stuck in some not-very-successful movies, is downright mesmerizing as the young man who changes his life forever.

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Brigsby Bear Review

Normally you’ll see Kyle Mooney on television whenever there’s a new episode of Saturday Night Live. He’s one of the primary cast members, and he’s made quite a name for himself as one of the driving forces behind the next generation of SNL Digital Shorts, following the departure of Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island counterparts Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone. Now they’ve all teamed up, along with some other SNL talents, to deliver one of the comedy gems of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Brigsby Bear is an offbeat, original comedy about a 25-year-old man who has his entire world thrown into upheaval when he learns a terrible secret about his parents and everything he’s been taught by them. What follows is a hilarious adventure of self-discovery that is essentially a love letter to storytelling and the power it has in all our lives.

Read on for our full Brigsby Bear review. Read More »

Tokyo Idols

Tokyo Idols is a fascinating must-see documentary which explores the disturbing world of super fandom in the Japanese Idol scene. The mainstream cultural phenomenon has overtaken Japan and is supposedly a one-billion-dollar industry. Imagine spunky, cheery Japanese school girls dressed in anime outfits singing and dancing to clubs filled with middle-aged men. The Idol superfans, usually aged 35 to 50, follow the young teenage female singers and girl bands, some even spending most of their earnings and quitting their jobs to devote their lives to the fandom.

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Alden Ehrenreich in The Yellow Birds review

The Yellow Birds is guaranteed to attract a certain amount of attention simply because it’s Alden Ehrenreich‘s last major role before Han Solo, and Star Wars fans will be gratified to see that Lucasfilm’s faith in him is not misplaced. He puts in an unforgettable lead performance as Bartle, a young soldier who’s deployed to war and comes back a haunted man, for reasons he’s unwilling or unable to articulate.

But The Yellow Birds is far more than an acting showcase for Ehrenreich’s talents, and would deserve to be seen no matter what big franchises its stars were doing next. It’s a war drama that’s far less interested in the heroism of battle than its cost, as told through the story of a single soldier and those in his immediate orbit.  Read More »

Mudbound review

Any movie should consider itself lucky to have an ensemble as good as the one anchoring Mudbound, which includes Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, and, most unexpectedly, Mary J. Blige. Directed by Dee Rees (whose debut feature Pariah was a breakout favorite at Sundance 2011), the drama follows two families — one black, one white — living on the same farm in the Mississippi Delta around the time of World War II.

The white McAllans own the property, despite the fact that household head Henry (Jason Clarke) is a Memphis gentleman who knows little about the land, and seemingly moved his family to the country on a whim. The Jacksons, on the other hand, have worked these acres for generations, for one white owner after another. Both clans are forever changed when World War II hits, and then again when the war ends and brings their loved ones back home.  Read More »

A Ghost Story Review

If I told you there was a movie at Sundance where Casey Affleck appears for most of the film covered in a white sheet with black eyes like some kind of cheap Halloween ghost, you’d probably think it was some sort of quirky comedy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It should come as no surprise that A Ghost Story is about a ghost. Casey Affleck plays a man, only identified as “C” in the film’s credits who dies in a head-on collision outside of the house where he lives with his wife “M” (Rooney Mara) in a small town. After his wife sees his body one last time in the hospital and leaves, the camera lingers, and after a couple of minutes of ambient sound, the sheet covering “C” raises as if he’s alive. And what follows is not horror, thriller or comedy, but a drama from director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) the likes of which you haven’t seen before.

Read on for our full A Ghost Story review. Read More »

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When The Street Lights Go On

In the past few years, the Sundance Film Festival has begun to embrace the narrative art of television. The 2016 festival premiered the first couple episodes of the Bad Robot-produced TV adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63. The 2017 festival has expanded their television category to include an independent pilot showcase, essentially a platform for independently produced television pilots without a home.

I’ve mostly avoided the television programs at the festival because there are just too many promising films to see, but a small gap in my schedule led me to a screening of these pilots this year. There I came across one of the best things I’ve seen at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival so far: a television pilot called When The Street Lights Go On.

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