Category Archives: Festivals
Co-starring Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin and Mia Goth, High Life will be the first English-language film directed by the French filmmaker behind Beau Travail and White Material.
Dano’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel, received mixed reactions at Sundance.
Hearts Beat Loud, Leave No Trace, Eighth Grade and Search all take a look at unconventional familial bonds and how they’re affected by circumstance.
Based on the bestselling novel by Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked is a comic account of life’s second chances. Jesse Peretz directed from a script by Tamara Jenkins, Jim Taylor and Evgenia Peretz.
“The latest film from the Zellner brothers is slight and sweet and funny, but it manages to offer some really smart observations on the way men attach themselves to the idea of a woman rather than the actual woman,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Even if I don’t think Hereditary totally works in terms of what story gets told, the storytelling is commanding. As an experience, this was exactly what I look for from a Sundance midnight movie — a creepy exercise in control that sends the audience uneasily out into the frozen dark,” writes noted horror buff Drew McWeeny.
Like Sundance before it, female filmmakers are well represented at SXSW, and a quick glance at the lineup reveals such potential gems as Julia Hart’s Fast Color starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lynn Shelton’s Outside In starring Jay Duplass, and Hannah Marks and Joey Power’s Shotgun starring Maika Monroe.
More than a dozen high-profile Sundance titles were picked up for distribution during the festival, but there are many other titles still trying to find a home… and an audience.
The four directing awards each went to a different woman director, as did the Waldo Salt screenwriting prize. Aneesh Chaganty’s Search won the Audience Award in the NEXT category as well as the Alfred P. Sloan Award and Amazon Studios Producer Award.
“Director Jason Reitman has become a punching bag for some critics, and unfairly. He’s had an uneven career, but it’s clear that the material he makes is material that speaks to him in a personal way… and I love that he seems to be willing to let his leads be terribly flawed without judging them,” writes Drew McWeeny
“While I think this film will play for every audience, and I think it’s one of the best overall movies I’ve seen at the festival this year, there is little doubt that being adopted made this a very uncomfortable emotional experience for me, and a personal one,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Boots Riley’s directorial debut stars Get Out‘s Stanfield as an Oakland-based telemarketer who discovers a magical key to professional success, which propels him into a macabre universe.
Craig William Macneill directed from a script by Bryce Kass, and Sevigny produced the film with Naomi Despres and Liz Destro.
Two of the more high-profile Sundance premieres were screened early in the fest with the Daveed Diggs starrer Blindspotting being one of the Day One premieres and Bart Layton’s American Animals screening shortly afterwards. The latter is the first acquisition by MoviePass Ventures.
Two feature film directorial debuts offer an insightful look into personal and political issues using very different storytelling and filmmaking styles.
A spring 2018 theatrical release is planned for Terminal, which also stars Simon Pegg, Mike Myers, Max Irons, and Dexter Fletcher.
“Andrea Riseborough is great and Forest Whitaker is strong as a man of faith, but while Tom Wilkinson is good at conveying malice, he’s got that “English actor doing a Southern accent” accent that’s not really the right accent, but rather a weird approximation of it,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“This is as much a “movie movie” as something like Evil Dead II, and I don’t make that comparison lightly. By the time star Matilda Lutz assumes her final form in this film, she is as iconic in her way as Ash was with his chainsaw hand,” writes Drew McWeeny.
The first acquisition (but probably not the last) from the Midnight section of Sundance is a topical horror-thriller starring Bella Thorne, Odessa Young, Hari Nef and Maude Apatow.
“I think this is a brave film precisely because it’s not about someone doing every single thing right. It’s not about someone who perfectly handles something. It’s messy. It’s frustrating. And, yeah, when it’s very good, it’s great. And important. And insightful,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Director Jesse Peretz seems to be growing as a filmmaker, and he’s got such a solid foundation in the form of the script by Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor that it gives him plenty of room to work,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Directed by Gustav Möller, based on a screenplay co-written by Emil Nygaard Albertsen, the thriller involves an emergency call dispatcher who gets caught up in a far larger web of intrigue while trying to save a kidnapped woman.
Reinaldo Marcus Green’s directorial debut is a triptych following three stories — a family man captures an unlawful police shooting on video; a police officer with conflicting feelings about what that video shows; and a high school athlete who, in the aftermath of the shooting, is inspired to stand up for what he believes in.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rose Byrne and Carey Mulligan drive The Kindergarten Teacher, Juliet, Naked and Paul Dano’s Wildlife to very different places.
I also caught Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing, and while it isn’t nearly as bold or as daring as his debut The Eyes of My Mother, it’s a fun two-hander starring Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska that plays like a bloodier version of Phantom Thread.
Director Panos Cosmatos and his co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn absolutely know what movie they’re making, and they are after something that draws together all of the various things that have influenced them in a way that is personal and authentic, and not just about what looks cool,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood remains one of the definitive works of art in any medium about the way childhood imagination works,” writes Drew McWeeny, who said the emotional film “broke” him.
Newcomer Thomasin Harcourt McKenziefollows plays a teenage girl who lives in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon with her father (Foster). A chance encounter leads to their discovery and removal from Forest Park, and into the charge of a social service agency.
The film follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born as they begin their two-year quest to become guide dogs for the blind. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best. The pick of the litter.
Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, the film stars Knightley as a young woman who writes a series of bestselling romance novels, but is forced to publish them under her husband’s name. He takes all the credit, while she struggles to be recognized for her work.