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Thread: Sundance 2020

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area
    More from Sundance 2020 "Best Lists" (VARIETY'S).


    ZOLA (Janicza Bravo) is based on a true story that emerged through "a notorious tweetstorm." It "takes a slow dive through the looking glass into the mind-bending tawdriness of the sex-industry inferno" by following two strippers, one with good sense and one not, who go down to Tampa for a "weekend engagement at an exotic-dance emporium." This is "The most audacious film at Sundance this year, and maybe the most powerful," say Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge, two veteran reviewers of VARIETY who include it in their combined two-man list of the 13 Best Films of Sundance 2020. The rest in this VARIETY Best List are:


    We need to take a moment describe three of these - HERSELF, THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS, and TIME - not mentioned yet on this Filmleaf thread.

    HERSELF (Phyllida Lloyd) is "about a battered wife who builds her own house," and Peter Debruge of VARIETY calls this Irish-set tale "the standout of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival." Phillida Lloyd is the MAMMA MIA director. The film, summarizes Kate Erbland of INDIEWIRE, " traces Sandra’s journey from doting mother and abused wife to emancipated woman, thanks to her own ability to dream big in the face of overwhelming obstacles." And Eerbland feels Lloyd mostly steers clear of clichés - much helped in this by the strong lead performance of Clare Dunne, says Fionnuala Halligan of SCREENDAILY , that pulls the "comfortable rug away."

    THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS (Robert Machoian) is really about "the pain of marital separation," says Dennis Harvey's VARIETY review, especially when one partner wants reconciliation and the other wants to separate "as is so often the case," Harvey notes of this "stripped down but emphatic indie drama," as he calls it. It is the man who wants to save the marriage and the family. This sounds like one of my favorite films of 2019 - nearly my favorite - Noah Baumbach's MARRIAGE STORY(NYFF 2019 Centerpiece Film) - and in HOLLYWOOD REPORTER David Rooney calls this a "rural counterpart" to Baumbach's film: so how is it different? It's about far more marginal people, "somewhat desolate, probably financially hard-pressed environment"; not about a rising star in Hollywood and a theater director with his own company, but "an odd-jobber" in a "podunk town" whose marital state - taking a break but discovering adultery - is harsher, rougher and more confused, the spareness underlined by use of Academy Ratio imagery - with a layered "brooding mechanical droning" instead of a conventional score, and with a rough event coming to surprise the viewer. A " lean, bruising exploration of the minefield of an imperiled marriage," writes Rooney.

    TIME (Garrett Bradley) uses new footage and video diaries to reconstruct a Louisiana woman's "tireless 20-year struggle" to gain the release of her husband from prison. She is raising six children while her husband serves a 60-year sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary, Sheri Linden of HOLLYWOOD REPORTER explains. Mother and wife Fox Rich has become a powerful voice of change in her community and kept a video diary. "Time details her struggle," says Alissa Wilkinson in VOX, "demonstrating how mass incarceration persistently separates black families in America," and also "how bureaucracy and centuries of narratives conceal the truth and pain of those separations,"

    NOTE: seven HOLLYWOOD REPORTER critics combined to choose their 20 best films of Sundance -and again there are some titles not covered on this thread. But ones that come up repeatedly we have now covered here. . .
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-01-2020 at 11:37 PM.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area
    Hollywood Reporter's still longer Best List. Some new titles.


    NOTE: seven HOLLYWOOD REPORTER critics combined to choose their 20 favorite films of 2020 Sundance -and again there are some (seven) titles we'd overlooked here. They are all documentaries or documentary-fiction hybrids.

    So here is their full list, with expanded comments from HOLLYWOOD REPORTER on the titles we missed:

    THE 40-YEAR-OLD VERSION (Radna Blank) "Writer-director Radha Blank's coming-of-age-in-your-40s tale — about a burnt-out playwright (played by Blank herself) who turns to rap to get inspired again — is a love letter to the people of pre-gentrified Harlem, to old-school hip-hop, to struggling artists, to young folks with big dreams and to black women who dare to live outside the box. With carefully crafted visual language and a funny yet thought-provoking script, the film creates a world you want to soak up frame by frame.' — BEANDREA JULY

    CRIP CAMP (Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht) their "stirring Netflix documentary about Camp Jened (an upstate N.Y. camp for children with disabilities, run by hippies), and the birth of the disability-rights movement at large, boasts smart focus, remarkable archival footage and inspiring subjects. Barack and Michelle Obama are among the executive producers, though this is a story that is truly non-partisan — humane, significant and told with impressive emotional heft." — DANIEL FIENBERG

    DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD Ace documentary maker and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson (CAMERAPERSON) has crafted what might be called a playful, anticipatory filmed obituary of her very lovable aging, and ailing, father — including staged sequences that kill him off, then bring him back to life — who willingly goes along with the gag. Brilliantly original in every way, this Netflix venture is full of gallows humor, as well as deep mutual adoration between parent and child. — TODD MCCARTHY (She has worked on many more serious projects, including CITIZEN FOUR, about Edward Snowden.)

    FALLING (Viggo Mortensen)
    THE FATHER (Florian Zeller)

    I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Heidi Ewing) Documentarian Heidi Ewing's ambitious narrative debut traces the decades-spanning, border-crossing romance between two Mexican men with almost Malickian impressionistic flair and a stealthily innovative mix of fictional and nonfictional elements. It's a poignant, urgently — though never stridently — political film that builds toward a hushed stunner of a conclusion. — JON FROSCH

    INTO THE DEEP (Emma Sullivan). Sometimes journalists and documentary filmmakers stumble into circumstances that produce unforeseeably fascinating results, while occasionally they fall into disaster. Tragically, the latter was true for Swedish writer Kim Wall when Danish inventor Peter Madsen murdered her on his submarine, while the former is the case for Emma Sullivan, who has made this breathtaking account of the entire grievous affair. Netflix has a sensational work in this one, in both senses of the word. — T.M.

    KAJILLIANAIRE (Miranda July)
    THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS (Robert Machoian)
    MINARI (Isaac CHung)
    ON THE RECORD (Kuirby DIck, Amy Zwerling)
    PALM SPRINGS (Max Barbakow)
    PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (Emerald Fennell)


    THE REASON I JUMP (Jerry Rothwell)
    Inspired by the book by Naoki Higashida, Jerry Rothwell’s elegant, luminous doc offers a glimpse into the way people "on the spectrum" see the world. Documenting the experience of five young people with autistic spectrum condition who either don't speak at all or don't use conventional language to communicate, this is nonfiction filmmaking at its most enlightening and ravishing to behold." — LESLIE FELPERIN (Felpererin as I recall from her discussion of the TV series "Atypical" has a child on the spectrum, and her high praise carries personal weight.

    TIME (Garrett Bradley)
    THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS (Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw)

    WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (David France) is an HBO documentary from David France of HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE -(Filmleaf ND/NF 2012) that is (says HOLLYWOOD REPORTER'S David Rooney) "a searing probe into the government-directed persecution and killing of LGBTQ citizens from the Russian republic," one that chronicles "selfless work of rescue activists." It is "hard-hitting, emotionally charged and frequently distressing in its first-person accounts of detention and torture and its glimpses of vicious anti-gay violence caught on video," "an essential watch." (France's HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is arguably the great AIDS documentary.)

    ZOLA (Janicza Bravo)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-03-2020 at 06:57 PM.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area
    The GUARDIAN'S Best List has two titles we missed. They are:

    THE GO GO'S (Alison Ellwood) is a Showtime tribute to the New Wave girl band that had some Eighties Billbord hits and remains a karaoke favorite. They wrote their own songs. It's "a kick" in this film to see "the original incarnation" performing "scrappy sets" exhibiting "a much rougher, angrier sound" in late-Seventies venues and see how "the definitive lineup gradually came together," says David Rooney in his HOLLYWOOD REPORTER review, and David Fear (ROLLING STONE) says this film gives the group "a proper music doc (finally)."

    THE NOWHERE INN is a sort-of mockumentary, but one that "turns in on itself" (Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE) and is based on reality and "isn't quite what it wants to be" (COLLIDER). The focus is on a fictionalized version of cult sensation Annie Clark, known as "St. Vincent." Trouble is she's an uninteresting nerd. Maybe a fact - the contrast between loved stage image and backstage dull reality - doesn't dramatize so well. Clark collaborates here with "Portlandia" comedian and guitarist Carrie Brownstein, as Amy Nicholson explains in VARIETY. Not for everyone, a "what'sit", but (says Kohn) "a shapeshifting psychological thriller worthy of vintage De Palma" and an interesting followup for followers of THIS IS SPINAL TAP. INDIEWIRE calls it "a mesmerizing seriocomic descent into the madness of modern fame."
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-03-2020 at 06:44 PM.

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