I didn’t talk to folks involved with Sundance behind the scenes this year, as I did last year, but I did check out a whole bunch of movies; I even reviewed a handful of them. So I say again: Let’s get it.
- Palm Trees and Power Lines: One of the best of the fest, and a movie I’m not likely to revisit anytime soon on account of its most essential scene, which is, and I’m being delicate, uncomfortable. (Review for The Playlist.)
- Something in the Dirt: Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have made a handful of layered, not-quite-inscrutable-but-not-quite-accessible movies throughout their career together. This is their zaniest and arguably the most “what is it” movie they’ve notched on their belts yet. Still good, though, and a strong demonstration of what a COVID-19 era movie can look like. (Review for Inverse.)
- Dual: A film I’ll appreciate most for the one-two Karen Gillan performances. It isn’t easy to play a pair of characters in the same movie, especially when they’re two versions of the same person, so her efforts here are impressive to say the least. (Review for Inverse.)
- You Won’t Be Alone: Another “best of the fest” for me, though I will admit that this may be a case where the film so exceeded and defied my expectations that my perspective is slightly warped. But having four people play one character over the course of years takes guts, and hitting one of my nerve centers in storytelling (babies in peril) without making me want to hurl isn’t easy. Job well done. (Review for Inverse.)
- blood: Could be that I need to rewatch this when I feel like I can get on its wavelength. This is a film I admire more than I enjoy; I can’t fault the style or the lead performances, but there’s something here that feels a little too chilly. (Review for The Playlist.)
- Nanny: A film I loved and wanted to love more until the ending, which felt, to me, jarring and abrupt. That said, I’ll happily go back to it when it releases later this year; it’s a strong piece of work with a clearly defined vision steeped in African culture and folklore, and you know I can’t resist folklore. (Review for Inverse.)