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Thread: SUNDANCE Film Festival 2018 Jan 18, 2018 – Jan 28

  1. #16
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    A third round for the Juno team.

    Tully is a pregnancy story that brings back the Juno team of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody. Guardian's Amy NIcholson calls it "marvellous" and star Charlize Theron "terrific" and gives it four-out-of-five stars. In the story a mom with postpartum depression troubles is saved by a millennial Mary Poppins called Tully (Mackenzie Davis) who's bizarre, funny, and saves the day as a nanny. Cody "has a tremendous ear for dialogue" and the "light-fingered" movie succeeds despite "a plot twist that falls flat." Variety's Owen Gleiberman describes Theron's performance as "fearless, emotionally raw, and physically intense, rippled with embattled waves of exhaustion and anger." She also teamed with Reitman and Cody on the 2011 Young Adult.

    Burden, the drama directed by Andrew Heckler about Orphan raised by the Ku Klux Klan Mike Burden (played by Garrett Hedlund) who changes heart is "as subtle as a sledgehammer," and has no shortage of "cringeworthy moments," says Jordan Hoffman of the Guardian, who gives it two-out-of-five stars. As an "unconvincing" character full of contradictions and "cognitive dissonance" from the start Hedlund delivers a lead performance that's "uninteresting," he says. Tom Wilkinson plays his scary dad, and Forest Whitaker figures as friendly minister who takes Mike in when he tries to break away from the Klan. Amy Nicholson's view in Variety is quite different. She sees Burden as an "empathetic drama" grounded by Hedlund's "humble performance." The movie, she says, shows us how poor whites could turn to racism and might be called "Trump Voter Thinkpiece: The Movie." Playing dumb, which MIke Burden is, takes intelligence, Nicholson says. The fact this movie is based on a true story might make it worth a watch.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-26-2018 at 11:27 AM.

  2. #17
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    Another - puzzling - sale: Puzzle.


    Puzzle

    Puzzle, a drama directed by Marc Turtletaub, written by Oren Moverman, and starring Kelly Macdonald, is one more biggish buy - $5 million, this time by Sony Pictures Classics, in this generally lackluster festival. In a piece on the commercial and hit-deprived side of this year's Sundance, Variety comments on the complaints and lack of big buys by high roller companies. This year Netflix and Amazon have been very quiet, while last year they picked up a lot of the big successes, The Big Sick and Mudbound for example; Amazon bought four films and Netflix ten. Ditto Fox Searchlight, which got burned on Patti Cake$, The Birth of a Nation and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in recent years.

    Puzzle is a "remake of a well-liked Argentine film [written and directed by Natalia Smirnoff] allows Kelly Macdonald to shine amid the yawn-inducing world of competitive jigsaw puzzling," reports Peter Debruge in Variety. It's about what a woman relegated to the sidelines does, when she finds out she's really, really good at something: Macdonald's character discovers she's a prodigy at jigsaw puzzles. But Sony Pictures Classics may have erred. Debruge says that "while Rompecabezas (The Puzzle) felt personal, its retelling seems patronizing — or at the very least pathetic, presented with the kind of solemnity you’d expect while reading a suicide note." Sounds hugely unpromising. The protagonist very tentatively branches out from New Jersy with her new talent, finding a puzzle partner in The Lunchbox's Irfan Khan. Debruge calls the pairing and the main character and the action "yawn-worthy." Karl Erbland in Indiewire is far more positive, helping one see why Sony paid $5 million for this film: "Puzzle toes a tough line," Erbland writes, "managing to stay relentlessly good-hearted and deeply humane, even as Agnes herself plunges into deeper, more dramatic waters. It’s the kind of mid-life crisis story that so rarely centers on a woman and Macdonald shines in the role, riveting even in the quietest of moments."

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-28-2018 at 12:17 AM.

  3. #18
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    Burden, Garrett Hedlund (US Dramatic Audience Award)

    The Sundance awards for 2018.

    The festival is over now (though we may add some catch-up reviews especially of World Cinema films) and the awards have been given out. Here is the list. A complete list of winners follows:
    U.S. Dramatic Competition
    Grand Jury Prize Award: The Miseducation of Cameron Post, directed by Desiree Akhavan
    Audience Award: Burden, directed by Andrew Heckler
    Directing Award: The Kindergarten Teacher, directed by Sara Colangelo
    Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Nancy, written by Christina Choe
    Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature: Monsters and Men, directed by Reinaldo Marcus
    Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking: I Think We're Alone Now, Reed Morano
    Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting, Benjamin Dickey, Blaze

    U.S. Documentary Competition
    Grand Jury Prize Award: Kailish, directed by Derek Doneen
    Audience Award: The Sentence, directed by Rudy Valdez
    Directing Award, On Her Shoulders, directed by Alexandria Bombach
    Special Jury Award for Social Impact: Crime + Punishment, directed by Stephen Maing
    Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: Hale County This Morning, This Evening, directed by RaMell Ross
    Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking: Minding the Gap, directed by Bing Liu
    Special Jury Award for Storytelling: Three Identical Strangers, directed by Tim Wardle

    Wolrd Cinema Dramatic Competition
    Grand Jury Prize: Butterflies, directed by Tolga Karacelik
    Audience Award: The Guilty, directed by Gustav Moller
    Directing Award: And Breathe Normally, directed by Isold Uggadottir
    Special Jury Award for Acting:: Valerie Bertucceli, The Queen of Fear
    Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: Time Share (Tiemp Compartido), written by Julio Chavezmontes and Sebastian Hofmann
    Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting: Dead Pigs, directed by Cathy Yan

    World Cinema Documentary Compeition
    Grand Jury Prize: Of Fathers and Sons, directed by Talai Derki
    Audience Award: This Is Home, directed by Alexandra Shiva
    Directing Award: Shirkers, directed by Sandi Tan
    Special Jury Award: Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., directed by Stephen Loveridge
    Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Genesis 2.0, Peter Indergand and Maxim Arbugaev
    Special Jury Award for Editing: Our New President, Maxim Pozdorovkin and Matvey Kulakov

    NEXT
    Audience Award: Search, directed by Aneesh Chaganty
    Innovator Award: (tie) Night Comes On, directed by Jordana Spiro; We the Animals, directed by Jeremiah Zagar


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-28-2018 at 12:21 AM.

  4. #19
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    Time Share

    Foreign ("World Cinema") films at Sundance 2018.

    This thread has somewhat neglected the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, focusing on US features. Here are the award-winning films in that category and descriptions.
    World Cinema Dramatic Competition
    Grand Jury Prize: Butterflies/Kelebekler (2018), directed by Tolga Karaçelik
    Audience Award: The Guilty, directed by Gustav Möller
    Directing Award: And Breathe Normally, directed by Isold Uggadóttir
    Special Jury Award for Acting:: Valerie Bertucceli, The Queen of Fear
    Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: Time Share (Tiemp Compartido), written by Julio Chavezmontes and Sebastian Hofmann
    Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting: Dead Pigs, directed by Cathy Yan
    Butterflies ( Tolga Karaçelik 2018) is a Turkish tale of a family divided and estranged, specifically three siblings who have been living abroad, subsequently mended when they are summoned back to Turkey. The film has some "playful tone-switching," writes Guy Lodge in Variety, starting out bizarre and solemn and turning more farcical with the doings of the family's eccentric little town. After winning the big prize at Sundance it has as yet no distribution but will probably become available. The Screendaily reviewer, Allan Hunter, found it "overlong." But I found sitting through three hours of the premier Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 2014 Winter Sleep/Kis Uykusu worth my while, and so did the Cannes Jury, which gave it the Palme d'Or.

    The Guilty/Den skyldige (Gustav Möller 2018) has already been reported on in this thread: you can read Mike D'Angelo's Letterboxd review. This Danish film is an accomplished, spare tour-de-force, all the action concerning a crisis confined to a police office call station and one man, a demoted officer struggling to save a woman being abducted by her ex-husband. D'Angelo confesses to finding aspects of the story implausible, and going back and forth on the film but with a positive conclusion overall: "Thought Möller had won me back over at the end, but then he adds a cheap additional misdirection (for which I did not fall), and I got annoyed at the contrivance again. Crackerjack feature debut, though." It has been bought by Magnolia, and it got the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award. Also reviewed in Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The Village Voice, The Verge, and other publications.

    And Breathe Normally/Andiđ eđlilega's director's name, Isold Uggadóttir, reveals an Icelandic woman at the helm. Her film is topical in several ways, focusing on the intersection of two women's lives when unforeseen circumstances link them. They are an Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau. Allan Hunter of ScreenDaily calls it "assured and moving." This is reportedly solid social realism in the manner of Ken Loach or the Dardenne brothers. The Icelandic character is struggling to keep the rent paid and still keep her "kindergartner son" happy with the occasional treat. It's when she becomes a trainee for the job of border security guard that she meets Uggadottir is "a Columbia University MFA graduate known for her prize-winning shorts." The refugee winds up helping the impoverished local and her son. The Directing Award.

    The Queen of Fear/Le reina del miedo (Valeria Bertuccelli & Fabiana Tiscornia 2018), which won the Special Acting Award, is from Argentina. The content is explained by Ali Shimkus of Slug Magazine. The film focuses on a well-known actress troubled by multiple apprehensions - over an upcoming one-person show, the apparent disappearance of her husband, the illness of a friend abroad in Denmark who has cancer. On impulsive she goes off to visit the friend in Copenhagen. The lead role of the actress, Robertina, is played by co-director Bertuccelli of XXY, and the performance is the thing in a meaty role Bertuccelli has created as a showcase for her talents.

    Time Share/Tiempo Compartido, a Mexico-Netherlands production written by Julio Chavezmontes and Sebastian Hofmann and directed by Hofmann, recipient of the World Dramatic Screenwriting Award at 2018 Sundance, sounds like one of those intriguing Latin American films about a subtle, insidious edge of social disruption. Allan Hunter of ScreenDaily (who has a lot of coverage of this Sundance section, clearly), says the film "invests a surreal, gaudy satire with unsettling elements of horror, grief and paranoia, and displays enough originality and intrigue to likely travel widely following its Sundance world premiere." The action centers on "Everfields," a tropical holiday resort that onthe surface is seemingly welcoming and comfy, but harbors something sinister underneath. The action brings together a visitor and a lowly employee: it's not clear if their dire imaginings about Everfields are fact or their paranoia. Information that there is a rich soundtrack brings to mind Brazilian Kleber Fendoca Filho's Neighboring Sounds, reviewed here as part of the 2012 ND/NF series. Hoffman says Time Share is "a brash satire of corporate ambition" that's "as blackly comic as a Coen brothers screenplay" and "skips from the comic to the sinister," and is "constantly captivating." Guy Lodge of Variety is equally enthusiastic. VIEW CLIP OF TIME SHARE.

    Dead Pigs, directed by Cathy Yan, which grew out of her job reporting on China for the Wall Street Journal, is described thus: "A bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river towards a rapidly-modernizing Shanghai." The action cleverly intertwines the disparate characters. Jessica Kiang of Variety: "Dead Pigs is delightfully uneven, eagerly see-sawing between screwy and serious, occasionally even daring to be ditzy — not a quality usually associated with Sixth Generation maestro and executive producer Jia Zhangke. If anything, Yan’s film, with its dancing girls, pigeon-fancying beauticians, Westerners-on-the-make and spontaneous musical numbers, is an antidote to China’s weightier arthouse output, settling the stomach after too much stolid social realism, effervescent as an alka-seltzer." But "its lightness doesn't mean it's lightweight," she goes on. And it's two and a half hours long. See Joe Bendel's typically precise and detailed description on his blog, j.b.spins Bendel writes: "In many ways, Dead Pigs is like the novel of today’s China Tom Wolfe has yet to write. It is bitingly satirical, trenchantly observant, and features a cast of characters that runs the entire social gamut. It is also deeply rooted in actual, documented events. Very highly recommended." US release is on the way from CAA. CLIP OF DEAD PIGS.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-29-2018 at 09:51 AM.

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