Sundance 2023 Review: DIVINITY, Provocative, Absurdist Lo-Fi Sci-Fi

There’s a fine line between ambition and pretension. It’s a line writer-director Eddie Alcazar (The Vandal, Perfect, Fuckkkyouuu) repeatedly skirts in his first feature-length film, Divinity, an absurdist, po-faced, lo-fi sci-fi film shot in gloriously luminous, numinous black-and-white. As a...

Sundance 2023 Review: IN MY MOTHER'S SKIN, Filipino Folk Horror Enthralls and Disturbs in Equal Measure

The 400-year-old spectre of imperialism, colonialism, and occupation (Spanish, American, and Japanese) hovers above Filipino filmmaker Kenneth Dagatan's (Ma) second, feature-length film, In My Mother’s Skin. Set during the waning days of World War II, with the Japanese army in...

Sundance 2023 Review: JOYLAND, Pakistan's Groundbreaking Queer Love Story

Writer-director Sam Sadiq’s feature-length debut, Joyland, is a film of firsts. It's the first Pakistani film to debut at Cannes (last year), where it won the Un Certain Regard and Queer Palm awards; the first Pakistani film to be shortlisted...

Sundance 2023 Review: MAMACRUZ, Spanish Character Study Impresses, Moves, Celebrates

In 1975, Francisco Franco, the right-wing dictator who ruled Spain for almost four decades, died after a lengthy battle with his own mortality, leaving his designated successor, Juan Carlos I, to presumably continue his fascist policies, centered on three overriding...

Sundance 2023 Review: SORCERY, Essential Chilean Anti-Colonialist Narrative

Chiloé Island lies off the southwestern coast of Chile. It’s a lush, verdant island, filled with rolling hills, forests, and farmland. Over millennia, it’s been home first to indigenous people, chief among them the Huilliche, and then, like most of...

Sundance 2023 Review: LA PECERA (THE FISHBOWL), Penetrating Exploration of Terminal Illness

The history of Puerto Rico is the history of colonialism. The history of Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, is the history of American imperialism. During World War II, the United States forcibly expropriated most of the...

Sundance 2023 Review: MY ANIMAL, Visually Arresting Lycanthropy Tale

More than two decades ago, Ginger Snaps,a modest, lycanthropy-themed horror film from Canada, hit the festival circuit, receiving solid critical notices, but limited returns at the box office. Thankfully, Ginger Snaps didn't disappear into obscurity like so many of its contempories horror-wise....

Sundance 2023 Review: ROTTING IN THE SUN, Hilarious, Provocative Meta-Fictional Mystery-Thriller

For his eighth feature-length film, Rotting in the Sun, writer-director Sebastián Silva (Tyrel, Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus, The Maid) asks one of the most important, most fundamental questions of our time: How many dicks are too many dicks?...

Sundance 2023 Review: TALK TO ME, Creepy Embalmed Hand Leads to Horrific Results

Somewhere around the 30-minute mark in Danny and Michael Philippou’s (YouTube’s RackaRacka duo) feature-length debut, Talk to Me, an act of supernaturally motivated violence unfolds onscreen that will leave even the most jaded, skeptical “seen-it-all” horror fan shaking in their...

Sundance 2023 Review: INFINITY POOL, Brutal, Bloody, Effective Satire

Watching your own execution can change you, sometimes irrevocably. Being forced to watch said execution after paying for the one-time creation of a body double (clone) to serve as your surrogate can cause a debilitating existential crisis with apparently no...

Sundance 2023 Review: FAIR PLAY, All's Not Fair in Love and Gender War

There’s a moment in writer-director Chloe Domont’s impressively realized feature-length debut, Fair Play, when a collection of finance-bros, employees of the fictional One Crest Capital, a Manhattan-based hedge fund, half-watch a corporate-sponsored, obligatory, diversity and inclusion presentation while a newly...

Sundance 2023 Review: BIRTH/REBIRTH, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the 21st Century

[Note: Some minor spoilers follow.] Long in the public domain, Mary Shelley’s seminal 1818 novel, Frankenstein (full title: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus), has formed, shaped, and influenced popular culture and our complex, contradictory relationship with science and scientific advance...

Sundance 2023 Review: FREMONT, Observational Drama Succeeds As Unique Character Study

Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s (Mystery Train, Down by Law, Stranger Than Paradise) influence can be easily spotted in writer-director Babak Jalali’s (Land, Frontier Blues) latest film, Fremont, a wry, droll, observational drama. From its shimmering, luminous black-and-white photography, to its...

Sundance 2023 Review: THE POD GENERATION, Provocative Sci-Fi Dystopia

Set in a near-future, cozy dystopia, the latest film by writer-director Sophia Barthes (Cold Souls) nimbly and wryly explores our present-day addiction to technology and its natural, logical extension into corporate-controlled authoritarianism, where seemingly neutral AI-driven tech guides every action, reaction,...

Sundance 2023 Review: RUN RABBIT RUN, Come for Psychological Horror, Stay for Sarah Snook

Not surprisingly given its country of origin, Australia, or its subject matter, the fraught, conflicted, inter- and intra-generational relationships between mothers and daughters, Daina Reid and Hannah Kent’s chilling, if overlong, psychological horror film, Run Rabbit Run, brings Jennifer Kent’s...

Sundance 2023 Review: POLITE SOCIETY, Delightful Genre Re-Mix

Ria Khan (newcomer Priya Kansara), the bright, shining star in Nida Manzoor’s (We Are Lady Parts) feature-length debut, Polite Society, has a dream. It’s not just any dream (it’s not that dream). It’s certainly not a dream shared by most...

Review: MISSING, Familiar Gimmick, Well-Executed Plot

Five years ago, Searching, an ingeniously shot, choreographed, and edited mystery-thriller, co-written by first-time filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty and starring John Cho, premiered at a yearly film festival in Park City, Utah. The definition of “crowd-pleaser,” Searching kept audiences rapt with...

Review: THE SON, A Nearly Criminal Misuse of Everyone Involved

Three years ago, the collaboration between playwright-turned-filmmaker Florian Zeller and Anthony Hopkins, The Father, netted two Oscars, including an Academy Award for Best Actor for Hopkins’ deeply moving portrayal of an elderly man suffering from late-stage dementia. More than a...

Review: ALICE, DARLING, Acting Showcase for Star Anna Kendrick

First-time director Mary Nighy and writer Alanna Francis’s (The Rest of Us) multi-layered, thought-provoking psychological thriller, Alice, Darling, opens with the title character (Anna Kendrick) floating in the murky waters of an unnamed lake, seemingly caught in a decisive moment...

Review: THE DEVIL CONSPIRACY, Mind Melting, Delirious Genre Remix

The first sign that something’s not quite right in director Nathan Frankowski and writer Ed Alan’s collaboration, The Devil Conspiracy, appears in the awkward title itself: an apostrophe and “s” appear to be missing. The “the” also appears to be...