Sundance Film Festival

Film Review: Am I OK? is a delicate journey navigated through the grace that is Dakota Johnson

There’s something of a full circle moment experienced with Am I OK?, Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne‘s co-directorial feature debut.  The real-life couple, who met on the set of a Sundance selection title (2013’s In A World…), returned to the festival as married women detailing their own journey of self-discovery and acceptance with a film…

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Layla is a film that celebrates one’s identity through a multitude of creative intersections: Sundance Film Festival Review

Thanks predominantly to RuPaul, and, more specifically RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag culture has firmly wedged itself in the mainstream.  It’s always been there, it’s just more readily acceptable, or at least visible, and Amrou Al-Kadhi’s assured debut feature as both a writer and director, Layla, furthers such with its playful, authentic personality that drives home…

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Sebastian is an explorative drama that expresses a healthy relationship with the art of sex work: Sundance Film Festival Review

Though there’s an initial graphicness to the manner in which sex is depicted in the opening minutes of Sebastian, Mikko Mäkelä‘s explorative drama shouldn’t be dismissed as just another recent example of queer cinema that leans into sexual explicitness for the sake of shock or organic representation.  Yes, the sex on hand is a realistic…

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Good One aims for a sense of understated tension across its minimalistic plotting: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s universally strong performances across the board and lush cinematography throughout, but one can’t help but wish there was more plotting to Good One for the understated drama to truly land the emotional impact it aims for. The set-up in India Donaldson‘s film is simple, with 17-year-old Sam (Lily Collias, an absolute breakout) gearing up…

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Desire Lines is a layered drama that provides trans men with authentic representation: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s a uniqueness to Desire Lines that writer/director Jules Rosskam (and co-writer Nate Gualtieri) implements to set the film as an open line of communication regarding the LGBTQIA+ community and their placement within their own culture.  A narrative-driven drama that combines documentary pieces and talking head confessionals, the film’s hybrid mentality may not always work,…

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Exhibiting Forgiveness is a thought-provoking drama that bides its time in surrendering to its emotional explosiveness: Sundance Film Festival Review

The complexities of forgiveness and accountability against a familial backdrop laced with tension, regret and one’s own personal demons, Exhibiting Forgiveness is a thought-provoking drama, and one that bides its time in surrendering to its emotional explosiveness. Written and directed by Titus Kaphar, marking his feature debut, Exhibiting Forgiveness focuses on Tarell Rodin (André Holland),…

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The Moogai‘s important message clashes with shaky horror execution: Sundance Film Festival Review

The controversial historical treatment of Australia’s native people by white settlers and the continuing generational trauma within the Indigenous communities weigh heavy on the narrative themes of Jon Bell‘s The Moogai.  There’s a ripe premise to lean into horror genre sensibilities – “moogai” is the Bundjalung language for a malevolent child-stealing entity that is the…

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Kidnapping Inc. blends farce, politics and stark Haitian reality: Sundance Film Festival Review

Though its working with the elements of a dark comedy, a political thriller and topical social commentary, Bruno Mourral‘s Kidnapping Inc. manages to navigate its multiple themes and transition quite successfully from its farcical opening to its more stirring, sobering close. Set in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince (the film utilising both the Creole and…

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Thelma is a sweet comedic gem (and the unlikeliest action vehicle) bolstered by a wonderful June Squibb: Sundance Film Festival Review

Though it leans into the action/thriller genre with a supreme wink, Thelma, Josh Margolin‘s frequently hilarious, always poignant ode to his own grandmother (and, clearly, a love of the action genre), is never spoofing the films it so evidently is earning its laughs from; and it’s that sweetness and keen sense of reinvention that helps…

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2024 Sundance Film Festival announces 91 projects for its 40th edition

Today the non-profit Sundance Institute announced the 82 films, eight episodic titles, and a New Frontier interactive experience selected for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival will take place January 18–28, 2024, in person in Park City and Salt Lake City, with a selection of titles available online nationwide from January 25–28, 2024. This…

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Polite Society is a fun, spirited and charming genre mash-up: Sundance Film Festival Review

Polite Society tells the story of two Pakistani-Muslim sisters in London; plucky Ria (Priya Kansara), who dreams of being a stuntwoman, and Lena (Ritu Arya), her world-weary older sister who wants to be an artist. With Lena recently returned home after dropping out of art school, Ria constantly goads her into helping her make YouTube…

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Fancy Dance is a heartfelt coming-of-age drama about family bonds and the trials of Indigenous women: Sundance Film Festival

Set in present day Seneca-Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma, Fancy Dance follows Jax (Lily Gladstone), a Native American swindler who hustles for a living while caring for her niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson), taken in following the sudden disappearance of her mother. With every spare moment spent trying to find the missing parent, time is running out…

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Talk To Me shocks and lingers with dread as it submits to the cruel and comedic capabilities of the horror genre: Sundance Film Festival Review

Whilst it’s fair to be tired of the “elevated horror” tag that so many genre pieces aim for nowadays, and the attachment of the-little-studio-that-could A24 only fans the fire, one needn’t worry with Talk To Me, an Australian-made horror effort that’s been acquired by the aforementioned studio for US distribution following wild reactions out of…

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Other People’s Children is an affecting French drama about the complexities of motherhood: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s complexity within the rather simplistic narrative of Other People’s Children, Rebecca Zlotowski‘s affecting French drama about a certain definition of motherhood. Headlined by a captivating Virginie Efira, last seen dominating Paul Verhoeven’s controversial Benedetta, Other People’s Children focuses on her Rachel, a 40-year-old teacher – single and childless – whose blossoming relationship with Ali…

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Cat Person is an uneven, personality-confused thriller spearheaded by a committed Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun: Sundance Film Festival Review

It goes without saying that the topical interest in Kristen Roupenian’s 2017 short story “Cat Person”, which ran in The New Yorker, before going viral online, is ripe for a filmmaker to adapt and expand.  Unfortunately, director Susanna Fogel can’t quite secure a grip on proceedings, clumsily handling the film’s tone and undermining its central…

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Infinity Pool is gluttonous, psychosexual excess: Sundance Film Festival Review

The wealthy whites and their easy skewering is a narrative mentality that we have been witness to in a variety of practices as of late.  But unlike The White Lotus and The Menu, two of the most recent examples of such a temperament, Brandon Cronenberg‘s Infinity Pool pushes further past being just a little wicked…

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Fair Play is an intense, gripping thriller from Chloe Domont: Sundance Film Festival Review

Fair Play tells the story of a recently engaged young couple Emily and Luke (Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich) who both work at a corporate hedge fund in secret. As they witness a fellow employee crash and burn and is let go of their job, a new spot for PM has opened up, leaving a…

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Shayda is a touching and harrowing look into the tribulations of Iranian women: Sundance Film Festival Review

Shayda tells the story of our titular heroine (Zar Amir Ebrahimi), an Iranian woman who is living in Australia with her 6-year-old daughter Mona (Selina Zahednia). She resides in a women’s shelter after having fled from Iran to hide from her husband Hossein (Osamah Sami) and she tries to establish a normal life for her…

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Run Rabbit Run trips over due to lack of originality and well-done drama: Sundance Film Festival Review

Run Rabbit Run tells the story of Sarah (Sarah Snook), a fertility doctor and single mother who is trying to maintain a carefree existence for herself and her daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre). The two start to celebrate by planning Mia’s seventh birthday, with Sarah’s ex-husband Peter (Damon Herriman) his partner and their child in attendance….

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The Pod Generation is an amusing, if thematically lacking sci-fi satire on impending parenthood: Sundance Film Festival Review

Set in 22nd century New York, The Pod Generation tells the story of Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a happy couple who live in a future where technology has become overabundant in terms of efficiency and convenience. Rachel is a rising executive at the Womb Center and Alvy is a botanist with a…

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Magazine Dreams is a brutal, affecting drama bolstered by the terrifyingly perfect Jonathan Majors: Sundance Film Festival Review

A brutal movie to endure, Elijah Bynum‘s Magazine Dreams speaks to the strive for physical perfection within men and how such toxicity can consume them from the inside out. On that outside, Killian Maddox (Jonathan Majors in a demanding, raw performance that should already be favourited come award season next year) has the type of…

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Sometimes I Think About Dying‘s at-times tedious pace doesn’t take away its emotional resonance in tackling the themes of social anxiety: Sundance Film Festival Review

Whilst it isn’t always moving at a tolerable pace, nor does it necessarily answer the questions it raises throughout, Rachel Lambert‘s at-times dreamy dramedy Sometimes I Think About Dying still manages an emotional resonance as it tackles social anxiety and the feeling of disconnection that can stem from such. Daisy Ridley – in a beautiful,…

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Sharp Stick is an inconsistent, weird and endearing sophomore effort from filmmaker Lena Dunham: Sundance Film Festival Review

Multi-talent Lena Dunham is back into the realm of filmmaking after 11 years since her feature-film debut Tiny Furniture. For her latest film Sharp Stick, she writes, directs and appears in a supporting role in a story that invites discussion about sexual freedom, depiction and perceptions via gender, media, hypocrisy and empowerment. While the film…

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You Won’t Be Alone is an engagingly wistful look into humanity wrapped up as a supernatural horror: Sundance Film Festival Review

A unique if uneven take of supernatural horror told through the veil of existentialism that is frustrating, beguiling and eventually emotionally rewarding. The film follows the story of a young woman who is kidnapped from her mother by a wolf-eateress, rendered mute and then turned into a shape-shifting demon. We see her inhabit various characters…

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Piggy meshes both realistic horror and well-worn genre tropes into one aggressive experience: Sundance Film Festival Review

What make horror films successful is how it examines ideas that are truthful about the human condition with bloodcurdling, cinematic panache. In the case of Carlota Pereda’s feature-length film debut Piggy, she succeeds with flying colours. Adapted from her 2018 short film of the same name; Pereda has ample time to explore the horrors of…

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Resurrection is a gripping, unpredictably wild thriller that commits to its perverse nature: Sundance Film Festival Review

Whilst Resurrection never deviates from its grim examination of motherhood, Andrew Semans‘ gripping, ultimately bonkers thriller refuses to stay on the course you expect it to. Portraying very much the type of Rebecca Hall-encapsulated character that Rebecca Hall effortlessly portrays, the actress here, strong-willed and properly presented, is Margaret, a pharmaceutical company representative who offsets…

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Emily the Criminal; Aubrey Plaza personifies charming chaos in scrappy, oft intense thriller: Sundance Film Festival Review

They say crime doesn’t pay, but whoever stated as such may want to have a chat with the titular criminal in John Patton Ford‘s scrappy, oft intense thriller, one that furthers Aubrey Plaza‘s hold on chaos personified characters in the off-kilter subsect of cinema. Plaza’s Emily is a former art student with a $70,000 debt…

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The gloriously entertaining horror flick Hatching will provide you a nice egg in this trying time: Sundance Film Festival Review

Hatching tells the story of Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), a 12-year old rising star gymnast who lives in the supposed perfect existence of domesticated suburbia; led by her image-perfectionist mother (Sophia Heikkilä), who runs a popular blog about exactly that. Tinja’s family also consists of her taciturn father (Jani Volanen) and her spoiled, irritable younger brother…

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Maika is a flawed family film that has plenty of energy and charm but not enough innovation: Sundance Film Festival Review

Maika tells the story of Hung (Truong Phu), an 8-year old boy who is grieving over the loss of his mother who had died almost a year ago due to a severe illness. One would think that this type of emotional baggage is bad enough. However, it not only rains but it pours. His best…

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Am I OK? is a neatly crafted journey of self-discovery and sexual acceptance: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s something of a full circle moment experienced with Am I OK?, Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne‘s co-directorial feature debut.  The real-life couple, who met on the set of a Sundance selection title (2013’s In A World…), return to the festival as married women detailing their own journey of self-discovery and acceptance with a film…

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