Andrew Tate‘s hopes for getting out of jail have been rejected by a Romanian judge.
25.01.2023 - 16:19 / deadline.com
Genre comedies are a mixed bag, and for every cult gem like 2010’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, the Sundance Midnight strand has been known to throw in a bomb. In its opening moments, Andrew Bowser’s fourth feature threatens to be such a write-off, with achingly broad comic strokes and jokes that don’t really land as Bowser introduces his leading man: himself. The awkward slapstick tone is reminiscent of very early Peter Jackson—notably his wonky debut, Bad Taste—but once the story gets underway, and other characters join the frame, things become demonstrably better. To such a degree that the style and production values mature faster than Jackson’s did, blossoming into a likable romp reminiscent of the director’s first real studio movie, The Frighteners (1996).
Bowser plays Marcus J. Trillbury, an amateur occultist who styles himself as the mysterious Onyx The Fortuitous. In reality, he lives at home with his mother and stepfather in a child-like bedroom filled with BATTLRATTS lunchboxes and figurines while making a meagre living as a burger flipper. Despite his avowed interest in the dark arts, Marcus is actually good-hearted sad-sack who desperately craves a change in fortune. Which is why he has his heart is set on winning a kind of Satanist lottery: Marcus’s spooky idol, Bartok the Great (Jeffrey Combs), is to pick five of his followers to join him at his mansion, where they will perform a ritual to summon the ancient god Abaddon.
Against the odds, Marcus is picked to join the group, three women and a guy, and they arrive to find Bartok lying dead on the floor. Their first test is to bring him back to life, which somehow they do, although there is immediately something of the charlatan about this sleazy Anton LaVey
Andrew Tate‘s hopes for getting out of jail have been rejected by a Romanian judge.
Anyone who has traveled to seaside resort areas around the world will recognize them, the obvious foreigners who spend their days approaching tourists with assorted trinkets to sell and are most often ignored or shooed away by Westerners. Precious few films have put such figures centerstage, but Drift does that and quite a bit more as it examines a young woman whose currently forlorn position in the world masks the very different sort of life to which she was once accustomed.
Although trans rights are now the subject of a simmering culture war in America and the U.K., that conflict is largely predicated on the increasing visibility of trans women at a time where self-ID is controversially becoming the norm. Stories of trans men, however, tend to go under the radar, and this remarkable New York-set debut from Chilean-Serbian director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz goes some way to redressing that imbalance. Featuring a pitch-perfect performance from Puerto Rican/Greek actor Lío Mehiel, so far mostly known for the Apple show WeCrashed and a number of shorts, U.S. Dramatic Competition entry Mutt feels like an important but — for reasons about to be explained — perhaps interstitial film in the history of LGBTQ+ cinema, being fully cognizant of the fact that it is set and was made in a between-time that reflects the lead character’s existential sense of limbo.
The Accidental Getaway Driver is one those rare, where-did-this-come-from films that every so often pops up to invigorate festivals and adventurous viewers on the lookout for something fresh and different. Generically, this is nothing new, a low-down gritty crime drama populated by cars, guns and desperate characters. But the movie, which premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, benefits considerably from being set in the rarely, if ever, filmed Little Saigon section of Orange County south of Los Angeles; a highly unlikely cast dominated by an octogenarian not looking for trouble; and, crucially, a noirish nocturnal milieu that injects the action with dread, even with a final stretch doesn’t really pay off with the kind of tension you expect from a crime drama. However, despite its lack of an exciting climax, this is a film that draws you in and offers sufficient satisfactions to attract genre aficionados and others keen to partake of some good new brew in an old bottle.
The cost of living crisis has hit the U.K. hard, but you wouldn’t guess from the trio of films screening in the official selection at Sundance. Rye Lane, in Premieres, is a goofy love story set in south London; Girl, in World Dramatic, is a tender parent-child drama set in Glasgow; and Scrapper, also in World Dramatic, is a curious mixture of the two. It deals with issues such as social care, single parenting, truancy, and grief, but director Charlotte Regan handles these matters with a candy-colored levity that can quite often be charming, in a whimsical, Wes Anderson way, but sometimes just plain baffling (there’s a reason why you don’t see talking spiders in a Ken Loach movie).
There’s a certain type of dystopian sci-fi that turns up in Sundance every few years, a kind of ‘EPCOT on acid’ that causes a big ripple then rapidly fades away (see Escape From Tomorrow, a paranoid conspiracy thriller shot, guerrilla-style, in Disneyworld). Divinity, screening in the Next section, fits the bill exactly, a quirky mad scientist movie that, for all its attempts to be arty, darkly satirical and out-there, ends up as a kind of lo-fi companion piece to Don’t Worry Darling in its not-so-subtle skewering of American consumerism. Shot in grainy black and white, its chief draw is Stephen Dorff as you’ve never seen him before, and will likely never want to see him again.
Landscape with Invisible Hand is a unique story of survival under economic occupation of the Vuvv, an extraterrestrial race who aim to dominate humanity in every way except violence. Written and directed by Cory Finley (Bad Education, Thoroughbreds), the innovative, poignant film explores how humanity might handle an Earth-altering alien occupation and the resulting clash between class and commerce.
For anyone wondering how a film called Crazy Rich Asians ever came to be the poster child for diversity and inclusion, Randall Park’s humorous rebuttal is, almost literally, that film’s poor distant relation. Adapted from a comic book rather than a novel and with a cast of character actors rather than stars, Shortcomings even seems to admit its modest production values in the title. But for adventurous audiences, this rough-edged indie is a refreshing antidote to the horrors of the factory-farmed studio romcom, featuring a caustic male thirtysomething Asian-American lead whose messy love life should ring bells right across the age, gender and culture divide.
Even if you’re not familiar with Andrew Bowser’s viral comedy skits as delightfully awkward Onyx the Fortuitous, all you need is the opening scene of the new film, “Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls,” to really understand exactly the type of humor the film aims to capture and why people have fallen in love with the character. Conversely, if you watch the opening scene of ‘Talisman’ and roll your eyes, the nearly two-hour film is going to be a tough sit.
Breathing fresh life into the rom-com genre, Raine Allen Miller’s Rye Lane is a delight. Premiering at Sundance, it pays affectionate tribute to its forebears while injecting a youthful British energy reminiscent of seminal TV shows such as Skins. This is a sunny, irreverent take on life and love, following two strangers over the course of one eventful day, and more — though it’s at its most exhilarating when playing out in real time, Before Sunrise-style.
It is always a time for celebration whenever we get a new Nicole Holofcener film, and that is especially true of her latest one that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus. You Hurt My Feelings which had its premiere Sunday night at Sundance, the pair’s second collaboration, with 2013’s Enough Said co-starring the late James Gandolfini being the first. In that film, and other Holofcener writing/directing efforts like Friends With Money, Lovely & Amazing, and perhaps my favorite, Please Give (not to forget the wonderful Can You Ever Forgive Me? which she co-wrote), they always focus on the quirky nature of our relationships with others in our lives. Holofcener just has always had a knack for getting right to the heart of things, often with a witty and wise, and truthful touch.
There is talent to spare in Alice Englert’s feature directorial debut, Bad Behaviour, and that is its biggest problem — it’s all over the place, rather than being channeled and controlled in productive ways. A fine cast, intriguing avenues of exploration, numerous artistic outbursts and a pronounced interest in the unusual are all to be found in this compulsively creative work, but the elements are not seized and shaped in ways that might have ultimately produced a coherent and satisfying whole. This first film gumbo by the eminent Jane Campion’s daughter has enough going for it to suggest that Englert has genuine talent behind the camera, but clarity of purpose is rather lacking.
JG Ballard meets Ben Wheatley in Brandon Cronenberg’s latest. Which is a bit of a surprise, since the two have already met: in 2015, in the latter’s dystopian satire High-Rise. There are (literal) shades of Nicolas Winding Refn, too, and a healthy smattering of body horror inherited from the old man, whose filmography Cronenberg Jr. raids to make an unlikely fusion of Videodrome and A History of Violence, two very opposing milestones in his father’s career.
Premiering in the World Dramatic Competition, Adura Onashile’s debut feature Girl takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, but, given its themes of identity and belonging, this tender story of a refugee mother and daughter might as well be happening anywhere. Though the production values are exceptional for a low-budget British movie, there is also the sense that, by leaning into her restrictions, Onashile has found an interesting way to tell her story, taking us into the claustrophobic, fishbowl lives of these two loners so that it is the outside world that seems strange and ‘other’ to us whenever we are faced with it.
Based on one of the most sensational and much-discussed short stories of recent times, which was heralded as the most-read story ever to appear in The New Yorker, Cat Person is a disarmingly creepy film with a disturbing edge that will surely trigger further discussion about contemporary dating and romantic protocols. Years ago, a little film like this would have found a modest but loyal following among young audiences. Now, however, its forthright presentation of the pitfalls of flashing yellow lights where male-female relations are concerned should make this a must-see and a subject of hot discussion at least among teens and young adults.
Working at the opposite end of the spectrum to Baz Luhrmann, Ireland’s John Carney seems content to make low-key, localized musicals that are almost custom-sized for Sundance. True, some fingers were burned when, perhaps emboldened by the slow-burn success of 2007’s Once, he hired a big star (Keira Knightley), filmed in New York, and endured the full horror of a hands-on Harvey Weinstein release for the bigger-budgeted follow-up, Begin Again, in 2013. After whatever went down on that film, however, he returned to Ireland with a bunch of largely unknown actors for his next and arguably best so far: Sing Street (2016), an underrated romantic comedy about a young man (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) trying to find his identity through his love of music.
Children shouldn’t play with dead things: not just the title of a low-budget American horror from 1972 but words to live by, especially in this unnerving and highly effective Midnight entry from Australia. But though it employs some familiar tropes — high-schoolers dabble in the occult and soon begin to wish they hadn’t, Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou’s film Talk to Me does attempt to do something new with an old idea, for one thing making the crossing of infernal thresholds seem like an awful lot of fun.
The word “romantic” doesn’t have much place in cinema these days, serving mostly as a modifier for “comedy”. The term “women’s picture” has also passed out of favor since its ’40s heyday, regardless of the fact that the films that exemplified it usually featured strong female characters and almost always pushed back at the pressures of male-run society. With her feature debut Past Lives, which screened to a double standing ovation this week in the Premieres strand at Sundance, playwright Celine Song has killed two birds with one stone, creating an elegant and unexpectedly mesmerizing character piece that speaks profoundly to the concept of love in the modern age while using an intelligent and ambitious, but still very relatable woman to do so.
It’s a backhanded compliment to Sundance to see such an emotionally-stunning film as Belgian director Veerle Baetens’ When It Melts, which premiered tonight in the festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, and wonder, right away, why a film of this power won’t be debuting in the official selection at Cannes this year. This is in no way to suggest that the American indie showcase is a kind of second-best place for it, more an indictment of Europe’s biggest cinema event, which routinely takes such harrowing stories of tortured and troubled women — as long as they are directed by men.
Written and directed by Chloe Domont, Fair Play follows a couple’s descent into the depths of hell all over a job promotion. The film stars Phoebe Dynevor, Alden Ehrenreich and Eddie Marsan.