Anne Fontaine's tense World War II drama, about a convent full of pregnant nuns who have to hide their shame at any cost, is in some ways a conventional drama, and in others a potent and unexpected tale of women banding together in a society that is literally out to get them. Agata Kulesza, so strikingly independent in Ida, gives an about-face performance as a Mother Superior with so many responsibilities she cannot afford to doubt herself... even when she should.
Felix van Groeningen's follow-up to the Oscar-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown is, like its predecessor, a melodrama set against a backdrop of amazing Belgian music. Unfortunately, Belgica's melodrama (two brothers start a bar, one of them descends into infidelity and drugs) is so familiar and conventional that it fades completely into the setting, a kickass club that's so loud and smoky it wears out its welcome long before the movie comes to an end.
Some movies should come with Cliff's Notes. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Cemetery of Splendor is steeped in so much Thai mysticism that I suspect I only figured out half of what's going on, and as such I don't think I can critique it fairly. Suffice it to say I found this unusual drama about a woman's relationship with a soldier (whose sleep disorder may be the result of ghostly kings who need him to fight their battles in the afterlife) to be a very esoteric fantasy, recognizably human but interestingly strange.
Rebecca Hall gives an astounding performance as Christine Chubbuck, the reporter who in 1974 took her own life on the nightly news. Antonio Campos' film invites you to experience her despair in such a subtle way, you might not realize until it's too late how much you understand Chubbuck's rationale. No matter what year Christine ends up coming out, it's going to be one of the best movies of that year.
Light and sweet and thrilling, Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a refreshing return to the heyday of 1980s kids movies, when kids were a little jerkier and adventures were a bit more dangerous. A pudgy foster child goes on the run with his new uncle after a series of misunderstandings makes them Public Enemy #1, leading to moments that will warm the heart and sometimes even stir the adrenaline.
Only Werner Herzog could so boldly tackle a topic like "everything associated with the internet" and make a solid documentary about it, but while LO AND BEHOLD offers lots of food for thought, it's such a big subject that it's hard to feel satisfied by it. Still, the film offers an intriguing look at a number of people and issues, including internet addiction, harassment, solar flares and our eventual journey to Mars.
Whit Stillman, the director of Barcelona and Damsels in Distress, has so much in common with Jane Austen that it's remarkable that he's never adapted one of her stories before. In Love & Friendship he adapts Lady Susan, and pits a sublime Kate Beckinsale against a society that rightly decries her shenanigans in private but in public is too polite to defend against her Machiavellian machinations. Love & Friendship's plot may be a little on the thick side, but it's so funny you won't mind keeping track of who's who and why they're all sniping at each other.
Kenneth Lonergan's latest is a breathtaking drama about a man whose brother dies, forcing him to take care of his teenaged nephew. All the usual clichés are dashed in favor of an impossibly involving depiction of people who now have to make room for more daily struggles, and aren't always up to the challenge. The entire cast is great, but Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams are particularly incredible.
A gay television writer with no job, no boyfriend and no hope to speak of moves back in with his parents after his mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Chris Kelly's film is an emotional sucker punch at heart, but excellent performances by Jesse Plemons, Bradley Whitford and particularly Molly Shannon keep Other People funny, even while you're busy crying.
Rob Zombie didn't come to Sundance with a little indie drama about people's feelings, he came with a small army of killer clowns. Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips and Richard Brake headline a strong cast in an assaulting movie, destined to please Rob Zombie's fans and put everybody else off. For what it's worth, I had a good time.
From acclaimed misery merchant Todd Solondz comes a quartet of short films, all of them loosely connected by the presence of an adorable dachshund. The parts don't come together well, but individually they are all accomplished little tales, about a manipulated young boy, the awkward love of Dawn Wiener, a stifled film professor and a crotchety retiree. You will be bummed out. You might enjoy yourself anyway.
Nicolette Krebitz directs a film that sounds bold on paper, with scenes that may shock you, but regrettably doesn't explore its nastier elements enough to feel like it was worth the trouble. Wild is the story of a young woman who falls in lust with a wolf, and begins to devolve to its level as their relationship becomes increasingly unhealthy. It's intriguing, but it just doesn't go far enough with its premise.
Kevin Smith's silliest movie yet stars his daughter Harley Quinn, and Johnny Depp's daughter Lily-Rose, as teenagers whose weekend of minimum wage work and senior parties gets derailed by a Nazi mad scientist. Everything about Yoga Hosers is ridiculous, but it's mostly funny and the two young leads are charming enough to carry the movie's occasional, less than funny moments.