SUNDANCE20 REVIEW: And Then We Danced [2019]

It’s the spirit of our nation. To be a Georgian male is to be masculine—especially in dance. Merab’s (Levan Gelbakhiani) teacher Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) demands that he stand straighter and stronger, a monument that can withstand any blow. While his country’s aesthetic had allowed for a softer tone, conservative tradition prevailed a half century ago to move things back to the rigid separation of gendered movement and the complete erasure of sexuality. How Aleko’s dancers perform becomes a visual metaphor for their nation. It will not be defeated. It will…

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REVIEW: The Gentlemen [2020]

Doubt cause chaos and one’s own demise. It begins with a murder: out-of-frame, bloody, and a punctuation mark on Mickey Pearson’s (Matthew McConaughey) monologue about kingdoms and having to be the king when history ceases to be enough. By that he means the criminal underworld and intentionally getting his hands dirty to ensure the level of respect and fear necessary to stay alive in a volatile cross-section of gangster life. Mickey worked hard to get where he is as the boss of a seemingly impossible marijuana enterprise and he’s unafraid…

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REVIEW: Mémorable [Memorable] [2019]

Don’t let go of me. Animation allows an artist so much more room to breathe than live action—especially when confronted by issues we can’t see with the naked eye. Bruno Collet‘s topic is dementia and his short film Mémorable [Memorable] depicts it with a stunning beauty via post-modern styles. As Louis’ (André Wilms) falls further behind reality, his view of the world gradually degrades into visions of melting objects (surrealism), disfigured visages (cubism), and a decrease in detail until he himself becomes smoothed out along the edges (impressionism). He begins…

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REVIEW: Dcera [Daughter] [2019]

Our lives are full of regret. Sometimes we possess the strength to overcome it. Sometimes we don’t try until the opportunity is already lost. This risk is present at the heart of Daria Kashcheeva‘s Dcera [Daughter] and its father/daughter duo quietly at odds while he lies in a hospital bed. Neither is willing to break the silence and we’re unsure why until a crash is heard and a bird found beneath a broken window. It jogs both characters into a state of remembrance: the daughter recalling a moment where her…

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REVIEW: Saria [2019]

No more stupid questions about love. Tragedy struck the Guatemalan orphanage Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in March of 2017 as forty-one teenage girls perished as a result of a preventable situation. Some survived to tell their side of the story: the rampant physical and sexual abuse by their custodians, the protests and attempted escape leading to their quarantine, and the possibilities of how the fire that killed their compatriots began. Writer/director Bryan Buckley has taken these accounts and the establishment’s history to weave a gritty drama out of…

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REVIEW: Nefta Football Club [2019]

I’m going to piss in Algeria. Two men (Lyès Salem‘s Salim and Hichem Mesbah‘s Ali) are searching for a mule. Two boys (Eltayef Dhaoui‘s Mohamed and Mohamed Ali Ayari‘s Abdallah) are on their way to a makeshift desert soccer field to have a match with the friends when they come across the animal standing on the Tunisian/Algerian border. Mohamed doesn’t have time to deal with his little brother’s excitement at finding the surreal scenario that is an abandoned mule listening to music through headphones, but he checks what’s in the…

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REVIEW: Sister [2019]

She was an annoying little baby. Looking back on a life growing up with a sister four years the lead’s junior, Siqi Song‘s animated short Sister starts off with a wonderful comedic streak. She lets the character’s imagination run away with his memories so that the crying baby who stole his toys can become a giant consuming them with a giggle. There’s the more authentically drawn cause and effect of sibling chaos sometimes confusing a parent into punishing the wrong child and the silly adventures undertaken when both are too…

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REVIEW: Brotherhood [2019]

Promise me that you’ll never go there. Terrorism is a complex topic too many gloss over in a desire to pretend it’s simple. We generalize and make blanket declarations against an enemy all while refusing to even attempt to understand where they’re coming from. So we of course would never accept the reality that it’s often our own actions that ultimately ignite theirs. It’s why Zionists in Israel label Palestinians terrorists despite being the ones who stole their land. It’s why Americans adopt xenophobic ideologies that lump good people in…

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REVIEW: Une soeur [A Sister] [2019]

I remember. A woman (Selma Alaoui‘s Alie) is the passenger inside a car heading down a dark road at night. She tells the driver (Guillaume Duhesme‘s Dary) that she must call her sister (who is currently babysitting her daughter) after missing multiple messages. It only makes sense then that she’d be worried about the urgency to connect. What we soon discover, however, is that the woman on the other end of the phone isn’t a relative. Alie has actually called emergency services to covertly make an operator (Veerle Baetens) aware…

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REVIEW: Walk Run Cha-Cha [2019]

Motion creates emotion. By the time the Vietnam War was over, the area was officially communist. Because Chipaul Cao‘s mother was a successful businesswoman at the time, the government came and demanded she relinquish both her factory and home. That’s when the family knew they had to escape. Maybe there was a risk of failure, capture, or death by leaving, but staying put with nothing (and little chance of improvement) was hardly a better option. The only caveat Chipaul had was the reality that he would need to say goodbye…

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REVIEW: Color Out of Space [2020]

A dreamy dream together is reality. **Potential spoilers** Arkham’s citizens colloquially describe the Gardner family’s farm as “blasted heath” at the start of H.P. Lovecraft‘s short story The Colour Out of Space. Their reasoning stems from the deathly gray dust covering the area as though a fire had wiped everything but a stone well away. That they’re mentioning it at all is the result of Lovecraft’s nameless narrator’s appearance as a surveyor discerning whether or not a water reservoir should be installed atop what’s grown into a legend those who…

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