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 »
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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: 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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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 »
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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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 »
When Eli Roth directs a movie, there’s a certain expectation from the film. Gore, disturbing imagery and sheer terror are associated with the director of Cabin Fever and Hostel. Roth knows that as well as anyone. With his latest film Knock Knock, he uses those expectations to his advantage to toy with the audience. The film slowly builds, but situations don’t get violent. You might question what the hell you’re watching. What is the point here? That might be frustrating in the hands of another filmmaker, but not from Roth. For almost half of Knock Knock, the film presents fresh, difficult and exceedingly awkward situations for the characters. And because you have no idea what’s going to happen, that’s scary and thrilling in its own unique way.
Knock Knock, which stars Keanu Reeves as a happy husband randomly thrust into an uncomfortable situation with two young girls, premiered this weekend at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Continue reading our Knock Knock review. Read More »
Sundance 2015 has barely begun but already, sex is everywhere. Straight, gay, exploratory, odd, difficult, and, whenever possible, hilarious. It’s all here at the fest and The Overnight (not to be confused with doc The Overnighters) fits right in.
Beginning with a couple played by Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling frantically rushing through morning sex before their kid bursts into the room, this is the movie where you’ll see Scott and Jason Schwartzman dance together naked. Like, totally naked. OK, actually about 98% naked. That other 2% is a visual gag carries a hefty comic punch and casts a long shadow over the rest of the story. Even better is a free-sprited, swinging performance from Schwartzman, who bats around the comic stereotype of the LA “cool dad” like a kid with a balloon.
The Overnight is a wild, very funny caricature of the supreme awkwardness of allowing yourself to be truly vulnerable in front of the person you love the most. Read More »
On Friday I screened the first great film of the 2015 Sundance film festival. Finders Keepers is a hilarious, bizarre and sometimes devastating documentary about the true life story of two men. Shannon Whisnant purchases a storage unit at auction and is surprised to find a severed human leg inside a used bbq grill. The other man, John Wood, wants his leg back, but Whisnant isn’t about to let that happen.
Read the rest of my Finders Keepers review and see a clip from the film, embedded after the jump.
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