Sundance

Colossal [Review by Haus]

We reviewed Colossal at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently slated to open April 7. 

Colossal is exactly the kind of film you expect to see at Sundance: Quirky, hip, wrenching, and memorable, with A-list talent mining the rich seam of mountain-rock street cred whilst on loan from the L.A. blockbuster hatchery. It’s a surprisingly powerful film given its off-the-wall premise, and — slotting in right behind Their Finest — is among my favorite films of the 2017 festival.

For a movie that opens with a deadpan shriek and a Godzilla-type kaiju monster strutting through Seoul, Colossal is full of surprises. It’s part zany creature feature, part alcoholic’s moaning spiral, and part gritty parable of emotional abuse, with a couple of hilarious moments thrown in. It’s also deeply cathartic, and very much worth your time. You won’t see anything else like it this year — maybe ever.

Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, a typical millennial layabout, whiner, and party girl who one day finds herself kicked out of her boyfriend’s fancy New York apartment. She retreats to a big empty house in her pokey and overcast Northeast hometown, thrashes about in emo ennui for a while, and soon happens across her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Oscar runs his father’s old bar, and before long she joins him there nightly. Oscar’s into Gloria but never does much about it, aside from get all dark and jelly when she talks to someone else. Stuff clouds over from there–oh, and the Korean More >

Bushwick [Review by Haus]

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We reviewed Bushwick at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

The democratization of content is upon us: from blogging to Snapchat and fake news, anyone with an iPhone is suddenly a maestro. In his online Masterclass, Deadmau5 proclaims that great electronic music can be made these days by a kid on a laptop. It seems there remain few artistic endeavors not at least somewhat susceptible to millennial shortcuttery, but for what it’s worth, I’ve always assumed action movies are immune.

Bushwick, screening this week at Sundance, aims to prove me wrong — and comes within a rifle shot of succeeding.

In this low budget disaster thriller, a civil engineering grad student (Brittany Snow) emerges from the subway in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn with her boyfriend (Arturo Castro) in tow. The station is mysteriously empty, as emergency announcements blare over the intercom. Puzzled, they make their way to the stairs, only to find the street above awash in explosions and gunfire. The boyfriend meets a fiery end within moments, and Snow, panicked, darts through the streets dodging black-clad soldiers who’re killing everyone in sight. Snow links up with Stupe (Dave Bautista), a grizzled and reclusive war vet, and convinces him to escort her the five blocks to her grandmother’s house.

I loved the first half of this film. Though their budget constraints are apparent throughout, it’s impressive how much directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion achieve with so little. They rightly resist More >

Their Finest [Review by Haus]

We reviewed Their Finest at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently slated to open March 24. 

Even seventy-some years on, the Second World War justifiably continues to tempt filmmakers as a sort of hatchery for authenticity, purpose, and meaning. Such efforts typically cluster about two poles: Either plunging into the thick dark mess of combat, or telling more restrained tales of quiet and unsung sacrifice on the home front. To properly remind us of the true horrors of war, the thinking goes, generally requires the former, and a somber tone to boot. Their Finest rings the same bell in a very different way, with a beautiful and often hilarious adaptation of Lissa Evans’s novel Their Finest Hour and a Half.

Former Bond girl Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a young Welsh woman in London. Catrin’s application for a government secretarial position surprisingly morphs into a screenwriting job, where she is to craft “slop” (that is, women’s dialogue) for Britain’s civilized-propagandist wartime films. Eager to help support her injured husband –- a grim war veteran turned artist who’s finding it tough to peddle his colorless swaths of Wartime Downer on canvas –- she quietly takes the job and gets to work, joining a couple of hard-boiled and epoch-appropriate mysoginistic chaps in the writer’s den. Most prominent of these is Buckley (Sam Claflin). There’s a little hint of will-they-or-won’t-they, since they clearly get along, but that motor never gets going because More >

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