Day: January 25, 2015

Sundance Film Review: ‘Last Days in the Desert’

January 25, 2015

A filmmaker known primarily for his perceptive melodramas about women, from “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her ” to “Mother and Child,” now turns his attention to a primal tale of fathers and sons — including the Son of Man himself — in “Last Days in the Desert,” a quietly captivating and remarkably […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief’

January 25, 2015

Though the lid was blown off the Church of Scientology long ago, Alex Gibney’s powder-keg documentary, “Going Clear,” should certainly rattle the walls, if not shake them to their very foundations. Gibney had an excellent blueprint to work from in Lawrence Wright’s exhaustively researched 2013 nonfiction bestseller (from which the film takes its title), but […]

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Slamdance Film Review: ‘Body’

January 25, 2015

“Body” finds a trio of young women panicking when their pranksome holiday hijinks result in an accidental death — a premise that, while unoriginal, could have resulted in some suspense, narrative twists and macabre humor. But little to none of the above materializes in co-writer/helmers Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s workmanlike but underwhelming feature debut, […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘Unexpected’

January 25, 2015

Kris Swanberg makes a huge leap into the indie mainstream with her delicate and beautiful third feature, “Unexpected.” The logline could sound like a gimmick: A 30-year-old Chicago high-school teacher and one of her students both discover they’re pregnant around the same time, but Swanberg’s film remains utterly down-to-earth. Small-scale and warmhearted in the best ways, this […]

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Sundance Film Review: Sarah Silverman in ‘I Smile Back’

January 25, 2015

Rarely has a performer striven so concertedly to shed any trace of his/her comedy roots as Sarah Silverman does over the course of “I Smile Back,” an addiction drama in which the acerbic comedienne gives the kind of warts-and-all, let-it-all-hang-out (body parts, fluids, etc.) turn that awards’ consultants dreams are made of. But Silverman’s performance is […]

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Rotterdam Film Review: ‘Bridgend’

January 25, 2015

An unimaginable reality is brought to the brink of clarity — only to plunge right back into a psychological abyss — in Danish helmer Jeppe Ronde’s potent, pain-ridden “Bridgend.” A big-screen dramatization of the much-scrutinized teen suicide epidemic that has plagued the eponymous Welsh town since 2007, Ronde’s first foray into narrative filmmaking isn’t the probing, […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

January 25, 2015

Anyone who buys a ticket to a film called “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” goes in fully expecting to cry. It’s sort of a given. The surprise, then, is the laughter: the near-constant stream of wise, insightful jokes that make it so easy to cozy up to characters dealing with a tough emotional […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘Experimenter’

January 25, 2015

The controversial social psychologist Stanley Milgram gets a biopic as polymorphous as one of his own research studies in “Experimenter,” a highly formal, always fascinating movie from writer-director Michael Almereyda, who here delivers his most fully realized effort in the 15 years since his modern-dress “Hamlet” starring Ethan Hawke. Almereyda conceives of Milgram’s life and […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘Western’

January 25, 2015

Old-fashioned cowboys and lawmen still ride the range along the banks of the Rio Grande in “Western,” the third feature-length documentary by the brothers Turner and Bill Ross. Specialists at a kind of intimate, incisive community portraiture, the Rosses here fashion an elegiac tale of two cities — small cattle towns on opposite sides of […]

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Sundance 2015: ‘Mississippi Grind’ and ‘The End of the Tour’ are two for the road

January 25, 2015

There’s a specific internal logic that governs road movies. Two characters—it is almost always just two—vibe off one another in the confined space of a car, revealing essential selves, embarking on what’s inevitably a journey of self-discovery, moving ever forward, together. The genre has become something of a Sundance trope over the years, thanks to movies […]

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Slamdance Film Review: ‘I Am Thor’

January 25, 2015

A Canadian competitive bodybuilder-turned-heavy-metal frontman and B-horror-movie star you probably haven’t heard of — though given that unique resume, you might well wonder why — is the subject of “I Am Thor.” Ryan Wise’s documentary pays bemusedly affectionate tribute to a no-longer-quite-so-buff rock god still doggedly pursuing, at age 60, a stardom that never quite […]

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Sundance Film Review: ‘The Amina Profile’

January 25, 2015

A cautionary tale about the Internet that is itself massively susceptible to Internet spoilers, Canadian director Sophie Deraspe’s engrossing documentary “The Amina Profile” will be a very different movie for those who followed media reports of its subject than for those who go in cold. It concerns a blog known as “A Gay Girl in […]

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