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

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    SUNDANCE Film Festival 2018 Jan 18, 2018 – Jan 28


    Nicolas Cage in Midnight chainsaw flick Mandy


    Sundance 2018

    At at time, mid-to-late January, when there is little worth watching coming out in theaters, it's nice to follow Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival with its promise of a whole world of good new movies on the way.

    The Sundance Film Festival is on, Jan 18-28, 2018. I will give some reactions to the films from a variety of sources. Here first are basic lists of some of the main features and docs. You can find the entire festival program of the Sundance online site here. Other categories are the Next films; US Documentary Competition, World Documentary Competition, Documentary Premieres, Spotlight series, and Midnight films. (Jordan Peele's Get Out was a Sundance Midnight debut.)

    There has been praise for Tamara Jenkins' return to filmmaking, one of three Opening Night films, Private Life, a drama about a couple trying to get pregnant. In Don't Worry, He Won't Get Very Far on Foot, Joaquin Phoenix is playing in a 12-step recovery drama about the paralysed cartoonist John Callaghan getting over his drinking problem. Gus Van Sant's well-meaning movie may be a far cry from Lynne Ramsey's upcoming, riveting You Were Never Really Here (is Phoenix going for sentence-titles now?), but it's another physical transformation for the protean, shape-shifting actor. It may be interesting for odd appearances from Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill, and Udo Kier, but the Guardian's Jordan Hoffman called parts of it "cringeworthy."

    No unmistakably great film has emerged in the early days of 2018's Sundance - or seems waiting to show. But there are, at least, many well known names in the cast and directorial lists, and as the reviews unfold it's clear there is lots to peek our curiosity. This is certainly no roster of obscure little indie films. But still, there are some plucky small debuts as well, concealed among the famous names at Park City this year.



    Phoenix in Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot

    Premieres

    For details on Sundance online go here.

    A Futile and Stupid Gesture
    Director David Wain
    Screenwriter John Aboud, Michael Colton
    Cast Will Forte, Martin Mull, Domhnall Gleeson, Matt Walsh, Joel McHale, Emmy Rossum
    U.S.A. / 101 Min

    A Kid Like Jake
    Director Silas Howard
    Screenwriter Daniel Pearle
    Cast Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, Ann Dowd, Amy Landecker
    U.S.A. / 92 Min

    Beirut
    Director Brad Anderson
    Screenwriter Tony Gilroy
    Cast Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Larry Pine, Shea Whigham
    U.S.A. / 110 Min

    Colette
    Director Wash Westmoreland
    Screenwriter Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
    Cast Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aiysha Hart
    United Kingdom / 111 Min

    Come Sunday
    Director Joshua Marston
    Screenwriter Marcus Hinchey
    Cast Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Condola Rashad, Jason Segel, Lakeith Stanfield, Martin Sheen
    U.S.A. / 106 Min

    Damsel
    Director David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
    Screenwriter David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
    Cast Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, David Zellner, Robert Forster, Nathan Zellner, Joe Billingiere
    U.S.A. / 113 Min

    Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot
    Director Gus Van Sant
    Screenwriter Gus Van Sant (screenplay), John Callahan (biography)
    Cast Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black
    U.S.A. / 113 Min

    Hearts Beat Loud
    Director Brett Haley
    Screenwriter Brett Haley, Marc Basch
    Cast Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette
    U.S.A. / 97 Min

    Juliet, Naked
    Director Jesse Peretz
    Screenwriter Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor, Phil Alden Robinson, Evgenia Peretz
    Cast Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O'Dowd
    United Kingdom / 97 Min

    Leave No Trace
    Director Debra Granik
    Screenwriter Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
    Cast Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey
    U.S.A. / 108 Min

    Ophelia
    Director Claire McCarthy
    Screenwriter Semi Chellas
    Cast Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton, Devon Terrell
    United Kingdom / 114 Min

    Private Life
    Director Tamara Jenkins
    Screenwriter Tamara Jenkins
    Cast Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Kayli Carter
    U.S.A. / 127 Min

    Puzzle

    Director Marc Turtletaub
    Screenwriter Oren Moverman
    Cast Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman, Bubba Weiler, Austin Abrams, Liv Hewson
    U.S.A. / 103 Min

    The Catcher Was a Spy
    Director Ben Lewin
    Screenwriter Robert Rodat
    Cast Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti
    U.S.A. / 94 Min

    The Happy Prince
    Director Rupert Everett
    Screenwriter Rupert Everett
    Cast Colin Firth, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Rupert Everett
    Germany/Belgium/Italy / 105 Min

    The Long Dumb Road
    Director Hannah Fidell
    Screenwriter Hannah Fidell, Carson Mell
    Cast Tony Revolori, Jason Mantzoukas, Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer, Ron Livingston, Casey Wilson
    U.S.A. / 90 Min

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 11:31 AM.

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    Garrett Hedlund in Burden

    U.S. Dramatic Competition

    See the Sundance online listing here. You can look up detailed descriptions of each film.

    American Animals

    Director Bart Layton
    Screenwriter Bart Layton
    Cast Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Udo Kier
    U.S.A./United Kingdom / 116 Min

    BLAZE
    Director Ethan Hawke
    Screenwriter Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen
    Cast Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton
    U.S.A. / 127 Min

    Blindspotting

    Director Carlos López Estrada
    Screenwriter Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs
    Cast Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones
    U.S.A. / 95 Min

    Burden
    Director Andrew Heckler
    Screenwriter Andrew Heckler
    Cast Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wilkinson, Usher Raymond
    U.S.A. / 129 Min

    Eighth Grade

    Director Bo Burnham
    Screenwriter Bo Burnham
    Cast Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton
    U.S.A. / 94 Min

    I Think We're Alone Now
    Director Reed Morano
    Screenwriter Mike Makowsky
    Cast Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning
    U.S.A. / 93 Min

    Lizzie
    Director Craig William Macneill
    Screenwriter Bryce Kass
    Cast Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw, Kim Dickens, Denis O'Hare
    U.S.A. / 105 Min

    Monster
    Director Anthony Mandler
    Screenwriter Radha Blank, Cole Wiley, Janece Shaffer
    Cast Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Rakim Mayers, Jennifer Ehle, Tim Blake Nelson
    U.S.A. / 112 Min

    Monsters and Men
    Director Reinaldo Marcus Green
    Screenwriter Reinaldo Marcus Green
    Cast John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan
    U.S.A. / 95 Min

    NANCY
    Director Christina Choe
    Screenwriter Christina Choe
    Cast Andrea Riseborough, J. Smith-Cameron, Steve Buscemi, Ann Dowd, John Leguizamo
    U.S.A. / 87 Min

    Sorry to Bother You
    Director Boots Riley
    Screenwriter Boots Riley
    Cast Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Jermaine Fowler, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick
    U.S.A. / 112 Min

    The Kindergarten Teacher
    Director Sara Colangelo
    Screenwriter Sara Colangelo
    Cast Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Rosa Salazar, Anna Baryshnikov, Michael Chernus, Gael García Bernal
    U.S.A. / 96 Min

    The Miseducation of Cameron Post
    Director Desiree Akhavan
    Screenwriter Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele
    Cast Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle
    U.S.A. / 90 Min

    The Tale
    Director Jennifer Fox
    Screenwriter Jennifer Fox
    Cast Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn, Common
    U.S.A. / 114 Min

    TYREL

    Director Sebastián Silva
    Screenwriter Sebastián Silva
    Cast Jason Mitchell, Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, Caleb Landry Jones, Ann Dowd
    U.S.A. / 86 Min

    Wildlife
    Director Paul Dano
    Screenwriter Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
    Cast Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, Jake Gyllenhaal
    U.S.A. / 104 Min

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 03:49 AM.

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    Yardie, Idris Elba

    World Cinema Dramatic Competition

    Look up Sundance's online descriptions here.

    And Breathe Normally
    Director Ísold Uggadóttir
    Screenwriter Ísold Uggadóttir
    Cast Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, Babetida Sadjo, Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson
    Iceland/Sweden/Belgium / 95 Min

    Butterflies
    Director Tolga Karaçelik
    Screenwriter Tolga Karaçelik
    Cast Tolga Tekin, Bartu Küçükçağlayan, Tuğçe Altuğ, Serkan Keskin, Hakan Karsak
    Turkey / 117 Min

    Dead Pigs
    Director Cathy Yan
    Screenwriter Cathy Yan
    Cast Vivian Wu, Haoyu Yang, Mason Lee, Meng Li, David Rysdahl
    China / 130 Min

    Holiday
    Director Isabella Eklöf
    Screenwriter Isabella Eklöf, Johanne Algren
    Cast Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer
    Denmark/Netherlands/Sweden / 90 Min

    Loveling
    Director Gustavo Pizzi
    Screenwriter Gustavo Pizzi, Karine Teles
    Cast Karine Teles, Otávio Müller, Adriana Esteves, Konstantinos Sarris, César Troncoso
    Brazil/Uruguay / 95 Min

    Pity
    Director Babis Makridis
    Screenwriter Efthimis Filippou, Babis Makridis
    Cast Yannis Drakopoulos, Evi Saoulidou, Nota Tserniafski, Makis Papadimitriou, Georgina Chryskioti, Evdoxia Androulidaki
    Greece/Poland / 97 Min

    Rust
    Director Aly Muritiba
    Screenwriter Aly Muritiba, Jessica Candal
    Cast Giovanni De Lorenzi, Tifanny Dopke, Enrique Diaz, Clarissa Kiste, Dudah Azevedo, Pedro Inoue
    Brazil / 100 Min

    The Guilty
    Director Gustav Möller
    Screenwriter Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
    Cast Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Johan Olsen, Omar Shargawi
    Denmark / 85 Min

    The Queen of Fear
    Director Valeria Bertuccelli, Fabiana Tiscornia
    Screenwriter Valeria Bertuccelli
    Cast Valeria Bertuccelli, Diego Velázquez, Gabriel Eduardo "Puma" Goity, Darío Grandinetti
    Argentina/Denmark / 107 Min

    Time Share (Tiempo Compartido)
    Director Sebastián Hofmann
    Screenwriter Julio Chavezmontes, Sebastián Hofmann
    Cast Luis Gerardo Méndez, Miguel Rodarte, Andrés Almeida, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Montserrat Marańon, RJ Mitte
    Mexico/Netherlands / 96 Min

    Un Traductor
    Director Rodrigo Barriuso, Sebastián Barriuso
    Screenwriter Lindsay Gossling
    Cast Rodrigo Santoro, Maricel Álvarez, Yoandra Suárez
    Canada/Cuba / 107 Min

    Yardie
    Director Idris Elba
    Screenwriter Brock Norman Brock, Martin Stellman
    Cast Aml Ameen, Shantol Jackson, Stephen Graham, Fraser James, Sheldon Shepherd, Everaldo Cleary
    United Kingdom / 101 Min

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 01:22 AM.

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    Keira Knightley in Colette

    US Dramatic Competition: first looks.

    Hoffman of the Guardian has high praise for Kindergarten Teacher, which stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as the teacher, who gets way too involved in a boy in her charges who has a strange poetic gift. He says this is one of Maggie's best performances and the movie is great. The only catch: it's a remake of Nadav Lapid's 2014 Israeli film (ND/NF 2015). Is that necessary? Hoffman says Why not? He also gives an all-star rating to experienced documentarian Jennifer Fox's potentially controversial feature film The Tale, which stars Laura Dern and is about child sexual abuse. Ellen Burstyn plays Dern's mother. It bored him, then disturbed him so much he wanted to throw up, but he liked that. He wants people to see this film, but will never want to see it again.

    Hoffman also liked, but minus one star, Wash Westmoreland’sColette (Guardian again), about the French writer, with a good performance, he says, by Keira Knightley. Dominic West plays Colette's husband, Willy, and also is fine, Hoffman says; and the film subtle and nuanced. The only trouble for me, but a big one, would be this is a historical film about France that's all in English. A needless prejudice, no doubt, but a strong one.

    Owen Gleiberman of Variety likes Ethan Hawke's Blaze, an unusual portrait of a blowsy, "dissolute country-blues singer", Blaze Foley told "in a redneck-verité style that's as delicate as it is daring." It's meandering and random, yet "beautifully made," selling its offbeat style and less than stellar subject, a minor country-blues singer who died at 39 but left some songs that entered the genre's repertoire.

    Gleiberman again has good things to say about Wildlife, actor Paul Dano's, you may be surprised to see, directorial debut (you might have expected one earlier). It's an "artfully deliberate small-town saga, with Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal as haunted parents, with young Australian actor Ed Oxenbould as their "sensitive and owlish" 14-year-old son. Here is a family saga that hasn't any trendy issue topic, but is just a study of people - and of changes happening toward the end of the Fifties. Dano wrote the screenplay with his partner, Zoe Kazan, adapting a novel by Richard Ford set in Great Falls, Montana. Gleiberman's loving description of this movie, about unpredictable adults observed from the point of view of the adolescent boy, makes you want to see it.

    Juliet, Naked, also described admiringly by Gleiberman, is directed by Jesse Peretz and stars Ethan Hawke as Tucker Crowe, a musical n'er-do-well who gave up performing, but turns to being responsible toward a series of children he's sired by different women. He goes to London to see one who's pregnant, and is confronted by others he's responsible to, as well as Duncan, his greatest fan, played by Chris O'Dowd.


    Robin Williams in Come Inside My Mind

    ______________________
    US Documentary Competition.
    The Guardian gives minus two stars to two documentaries from the festival. Benjamin Lee likes, but not wholly, Queen of Versailles director Lauren Greenfield's new skewering of consumer capitalism, entitled Generation Wealth. Greenfield, who has been working on this topic for 25 years, is brilliant when talking about the way money ruins people's lives, but this one gets sidetracked too much with talking about her own family, Lee feels.

    Guardian critic (new?) Charlie Phillips sort of likes a new doc by Marina Zenovich called Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind. Fascinating archival footage, Phillips says, but the film fails to go deep or see the bigger picture; not enough analysis or "assessment" of Williams' contradictions between manic silliness and surprisingly serious appraisals of the world; a failure to "pursue darker strands" in the story. Owen Gleiberman in Variety is less fussy about the Robin Williams film, calling it "conventional but beautifully made" and complementing it in many ways, pointing out the film is rich in rare outtakes and previously unseen footage, like an "acceptaince speech" Williams gave in immitation of Jack Nicholson when Nicholson won the 2003 Critics Choice Award for About Schmidt, but was "too baked" to go up and give a speech himself.

    Hollywood Reporter descries in not terribly involving detail This Is Home, a TV-ready (and slightly bland and generic) documentary about Syrian refugees adjusting to life in the US. It focuses on a series of families or parts of families in Baltimore, where 400 of the 21,000 Syrian refugees accepted into the US were sent by 2016.

    The Tale sounds repulsive; The Kindergarten Teacher, derivative; Colette in the wrong language; Generation Wealth diffuse. Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind sounds like the one among these Sundance films so far to seek out - and also Wildlife.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 11:32 AM.

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    Monsters and Men

    More Sundance: two urban films focused on race.

    Switching to the LA Times, which now has Justin Chang, former head critic for Variety, at the center of its movie reviewing, we find Blindspotting, first feature of Carlos López Estrada, a movie delivering a lovingly spot-on picture of the San Francisco Bay Area, especially Oakland, "envisioned here as both a locus of fast-encroaching gentrification and a seething cauldron of racial anxiety." The focus is on two men, played by the joint authors of the screenplay, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, as best friends and moving-van driver co-workers, united by a love of hip-hop, who're trying to avoid contact with the police. Diggs is a star of Hamilton, and the movie is almost a "a full-on slamming, rhyming musical." It's a little too over-explanatory and exaggerated, Chang thinks, but is "conceptually audacious" and "bristling with energy and ambition."

    Monsters and Men "covers some of the same ground to less attention-grabbing but quietly superior effect" and is "tough-minded and boldly unresolved." By another first-time filmmaker, Reinaldo Marcus Green, this is "a triptych of stories unfolding in present-day Brooklyn, each set in motion by another fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man." A video of one killing is posted online. Peaceful protests follow but also anti-police violence. The focus settles on Dennis (John David Washington), a black cop caught between two worlds, profiled by white cops when off duty, criticized by family for being part of the problem. Three men of color are "posed at a moral crossroads."

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-22-2018 at 03:57 AM.

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    Leave No Trace

    Sundance reviews from Indiewire: Debra Granik returns; and another Moonlight?

    Debra Granik made waves with her 2010 Winter's Bone (SFIFF 2010), which incidentally put Jennifer Lawrence on the map. Now she's back in Sundance's Premieres section with Leave No race, about a homeless father and daughter living in a Park in Portland. David Erlich describes it in Indiewire as "modest but extraordinarily graceful." It's also surprisingly upbeat for a tale about people on the margins. But Erlich admits this film meanders and is not always gripping, and Will (Hell and High Wager's Ben Foster) and Tom (New Zealand actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) sometimes are so generalized they become generic. Mike D'Angelo (Letterboxd) gives it 68/100, wishes Viggo Mortensen had played Will instead of the lead in Captain Fantastic(" In a less wacky register, obviously") and says "this confirms Granik as a major talent."

    Eric Kohn again in Indidewire describes the wildly violent Midnight movie Mandy in which Nicolas Cage goes on a revenge rampage killing everyone in sight because he's lost someone. Not to be confused with Cage's other recent outing Mom and Dad, a nightmarish fantasy about a time when a 24-hour mass hysteria turns parents violently against their own children.

    Jeremiah Zagar's We the Animals "is this year's Moonlight, says Eric Kohn in Indiewire. He also suggests it's cut-rate or "lower class" Terrence Malick, and concerns a half-latino boy living in a marginal family in upstate New York and discovering his queerness while running semi-wild among siblings and other odd locals in a narrative, based on a novel, that spans an undefined time period. From the Next section of Sundance.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-28-2018 at 06:47 PM.

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