Thursday, February 4, 2021

Random Sundance 2021 Notes and capsule reviews

With Sundance all done I want to begin to wrap things up. While I will be running some reviews past this I want to take tie to say a few things and mention some films not getting full reviews

I had a good time covering Sundance remotely. It was a kind of return to the festival going since because of the way things were done I got to talk to friends about the same films about the same time we all were watching them.

 I may have questions as to how they did things, forgive me I am a dinosaur in some regards, but I once I got things going and I understood how everything worked I was fine.

Also had I known going in that I know now I would have taken the days off to cover instead of trying to multitask. I think it would have gone better- largely because I could have slotted more films.


As this posts I'm still working on the last bunch of full reviews but there are still some films I need to mention in passing or as capsule reviews

I want to note some films I started but stepped away from for one reason or another

For example I tried the film FLEE about an Afghani refugee in Denmark after seeing three of the best films of the festival in rapid succession. Not long after starting the film I realized that what I was seeing was very good but it was paling in comparison so I stepped away. Since the film has been picked up for regular release I'll try it again down the road.

PINK MANSIONS lost me early. This has the feel of the off beat inde films from the 1980's and early 1990's that I never really liked. Those films always seemed to be trying to be clever than they were. I couldn't give myself over to the film so I stopped.

By the time I hit MASS I was winding down in the day. An incredibly intense film (expect Oscar nominations for the performances) I was not in a place to handle it emotionally. Its a tough film at times. And I had to step away and try it on another day when I could give it my fullest attention.

And then there were other films that I just am not up to writing up as full reviews:

PASSING was one of my must sees at Sundance and I couldn't connect to it. I kept seeing the hand of the filmmaker instead of the film. Worse I kept wondering what an African American writer/director would have done with it.

THE SPARKS BROTHERS is good. I dare say it is my favorite Edgar Wright film, but there is zero need for it to run almost two and a half hours.

TAMING THE GARDEN is nominally about the moving of a giant tree and other things. However the only thing that remains are the images of the tree on a barge traveling across the ocean. The rest faded.

BLAZING WORLD is a mess. The story of a young woman seemingly breaking apart mentally has some incredible moments but never pulls it together. yea the sound design and craft can soar but the story never amounts to much and reminded me of other films.

PLEASURE is a look at the adult film industry and while it is a good film, and wonderfully not like Hollywood's portrayal of the industry, it doesn't do anything unexpected. On the other hand its frank handling of the material and refusal to paint things as purely black or white has left me still pondering the  film and unable to write more  than this little bit (for now). This one is worth a look.

THE DOG WHO WOULDNT BE QUIET is an off kilter film  that starts off about a man and his dog and then it turns left into the story of a pandemic where to be safe you can't be higher than four feet off the ground. You either click with the quirky nature or you don't. I didn't and while I could  appreciate what it is it just didn't work for me.

MAYDAY is a weird tale of a young lady thrown through dimensions to a time full of war being fought by an feminist army. It's a film that felt like a strange Off Broadway play turned into a film that couldn't shake the constraints of the stage. I was fighting with it, waiting for it to seem like it was more than a mannered theater piece.

And now to finish up the remaining full reviews  and look forward to next year,

And a big THANK YOU to the people at Sundance for letting me cover the fest this year.

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