(This review originally ran during our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. American Animals is in select theaters today.)
Heist movies are all about setting up the illusion of clockwork precision, but every good heist film features at least one scene where the job goes horribly wrong – and the great ones often dive into the bitter consequences of crossing the line.
In that tradition comes American Animals, a compelling new heist drama from writer/director Bart Layton, the filmmaker behind the impressive 2012 documentary The Imposter. Here he conducts an interesting harmony between fiction and non-fiction, intercutting dramatic scenes featuring his primary cast (Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Jared Abrahamson, Blake Jenner) with actual interviews of the real-life thieves they’re playing. The result is a mesmerizing blend of narrative and documentary storytelling that would seem too far-fetched to believe if it was just another run-of-the-mill thriller. Read More »
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival has come to a close, and while the awards have already been handed out from the festival itself, we have our own accolades that we’d like to pass out to some of the best movies from the year’s first major film fest.
Ethan Anderton, Ben Pearson and Steve Prokopy all chimed in with their picks for their favorite comedy, favorite drama, favorite performances, most pleasant surprise, biggest disappointment and much more. Keep reading to find out our picks for the Best of Sundance 2018. Read More »
Is there anyone better at playing soulfully sad than Peter Dinklage? The Game of Thrones star is front and center in I Think We’re Alone Now, a post-apocalyptic drama in which he plays the last man on Earth who discovers he’s not as alone as he thinks when a young woman (Elle Fanning) enters his life. Characters in similar stories might celebrate this miraculous opportunity for human connection, but Del (Dinklage) resents it – he actually prefers being by himself, even in such extreme circumstances. Like an episode of The Twilight Zone extended to feature length, I Think We’re Alone Now wraps emotional exploration in a high concept premise. And like Rod Serling’s seminal sci-fi anthology series, this movie features a third-act twist – but this one almost torpedoes the entire story. Read More »
As a flurry of white snowflakes fall on a pitch-black sky, the word TYREL is superimposed over them in bold black font. It’s writer/director Sebastian Silva’s first attempt of many to underline the differences between this film’s black protagonist, played by Jason Mitchell (Mudbound, Straight Outta Compton), and the group of all-white bros he’s staying with during a weekend trip to the Catskills to celebrate one of their birthdays. The thing is, Mitchell’s character’s name isn’t even Tyrel, it’s Tyler – the title comes from a misunderstanding from one of the white guys, just one of the endless micro-aggressions (and physical aggressions) Tyler endures during this trip. But while Silva’s exploration of cultural isolation sounds like it could be the heir apparent to last year’s Get Out, Silva doesn’t do enough with the premise to give this movie the same lasting impact. Read More »
The Sundance Film Festival is often populated with unconventional love stories, but An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn may take the proverbial cake this year. Legion co-stars Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement make an unlikely pair in this deeply odd movie, a screwball odyssey into the absurd in which barely a single scene plays out in a conventional manner. There’s a touching love story to be found here, but the off-the-wall humor encasing it is sure to throw off those who aren’t willing to give themselves over to the film’s outlandish world. Buckle up, because things are about to get freaky. Read More »
Before walking into this movie, the only thing I knew about Lizzie Borden was that she murdered her parents. But in Lizzie, director Craig William Macneill (The Boy, Channel Zero) and screenwriter Bryce Kass offer a different take on the still-unsolved killings that totally rewrites Lizzie’s narrative, casting her as a righteous heroine instead of an evil murderess. With superb performances from stars Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart, this intimate drama serves as a fierce response to abuse and oppression and a seductive peek into the inner life of one of history’s most notorious killers. Read More »
A primal, psychedelic rage-scream of a movie, Mandy takes a while to get going, but once it does, it delivers exactly what fans are hoping for: Nicolas Cage fully unleashing the beast within and absolutely wrecking people with a giant axe and a chainsaw. It’s just a shame it doesn’t get to the blood-soaked revenge much sooner. Read More »
The Catcher Was A Spy was one of our most anticipated movies of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, so it brings me absolutely no joy to report that it ranks as my most disappointing movie of the year so far. It’s hard to fathom that such an intriguing true-life story of a professional baseball player-turned-spy in World War II could result in such a sleepy little movie, but even the presence of star Paul Rudd and a supporting cast of veteran character actors like Paul Giamatti, Hiroyuki Sanada, Guy Pearce, Tom Wilkinson, and Jeff Daniels isn’t enough to salvage this lifeless spy drama. Read More »
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“Societies accrue their greatest wealth at the moment they face death,” says one of the talking heads in the opening seconds of Generation Wealth, setting the tone for a documentary that takes a deep dive into the excesses of societies across the globe and surfaces with some disturbing results.
You may recognize Lauren Greenfield as the filmmaker behind the 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles, which documented a mega-rich Florida family’s attempt to construct the largest house in the United States. But that’s only one instance of the hundreds of similar cases Greenfield has tackled in her 25-year career as a photographer, and the examination of exorbitance and its effects has been a thematic throughline of nearly all of her work. Generation Wealth essentially serves as a summation and dissection of her entire career as she delves back into the lives of rappers, pageant kids, porn stars, and high-powered finance executives to discover how the American Dream became so mutated. Read More »
Remember the name Daveed Diggs, because if the Hollywood gods have any sense of justice, this guy is about to blow up in a major way. Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash hit Hamilton are already familiar with Diggs (he played the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in that show), but in Blindspotting, the opening night movie of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Diggs establishes himself as a talented multi-hyphenate who should be at the top of every casting director’s list for years to come.
And while Diggs is terrific in the film, it’s not only a good movie simply because he’s good in it. This is an ambitious film with a lot to say, and director Carlos Lopez Estrada pulls off an impressive high-wire act of balancing drama, humor, and suspense throughout. Put this one on your radar now, because you’re going to want to make sure you see this when it eventually comes to theaters. Read More »