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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Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017 by Angie Han
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 »
Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017 by Angie Han
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 »
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 »
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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One of the films that kicked off the first night of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a follow-up to former vice president Al Gore‘s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The film is another wake up call for climate change deniers who keep hitting the snooze button while the evidence of global warming is all around them.
The first clip from An Inconvenient Sequel has been released (to go hand-in-hand with all the positive buzz), and it references one of the highly criticized parts from the original film. One prediction from An Inconvenient Truth dealt with flooding in downtown New York City, right into the 9/11 memorial, and many thought that sounded ridiculous. But it wasn’t.
Watch An Inconvenient Sequel clip after the jump. Read More »
In the past two years, Taylor Sheridan has delivered acclaimed crime thrillers as the screenwriter behind the 2015 drug trafficking hit Sicario and last year’s award-worthy heist thriller Hell or High Water. Now he’s made his directorial debut at Sundance.
Wind River follows stoic and skilled fish and wildlife service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) as he discovers a young woman’s body in the snowy mountains of Wyoming while on assignment to find a pack of mountain lions who have been wreaking havoc on the local livestock of the titular Indian reservation. What follows is a crime thriller that feels like an extended episode of a crime procedural, but takes a shocking, and thrilling turn.
Read on for our full Wind River review. Read More »
We could have an argument all day about whether it’s more difficult to create a multi-million dollar, visual effects spectacular blockbuster or an independent film with a budget that is spread too thin. But there’s something extremely impressive about a high-concept sci-fi drama doing something so grand and ambitious with so few resources. Such is the case with the new film from The One I Love director Charlie McDowell.
The Discovery takes place in a world where Dr. Thomas Harber (Robert Redford) has proved that an afterlife exists. This revelation has prompted a huge increase in suicide in the two years since his historic finding, over four million and counting, with more being added everyday as people “celebrate” the anniversary of the discovery. The premise itself is intriguing enough, but this is just the beginning of the remarkable, fascinating, thought-provoking indie sci-fi film.
Read the rest of our The Discovery review after the jump. Read More »
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Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 by Angie Han
When Jessica Williams first joined The Daily Show in 2012, she was a fresh-faced newcomer from seemingly out of nowhere. By the time she left last year, she’d established herself as one of the show’s biggest and brightest stars. Now Williams is taking her next big step forward, graduating to full-fledged leading lady status in The Incredible Jessica James with style and charm to spare. Read More »
It is only two days into the 2017 Sundance Film Festival but Ingrid Goes West is already my favorite of the seven films I’ve screened thus far. A hilarious dark comedy version of Single White Female, it stars Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen and is set in the age of social media idolatry.
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