Movies I'm looking forward to at Sundance, and some you should avoid
Things would have been the same for me either way, given the circumstances, but this year’s Sundance was planned as a hybrid event, with in-person screenings in Park City, Utah, along with the online option that was so successful for the festival last year, when no one was doing anything in person. Omicron had other ideas, though, and so festival organizers had to scramble to move the entire thing back online, a disappointing development, but I think one we can all understand.
The festival runs until Sunday, so we’re only partway through right now, but I’ve caught a number of films already. Some of them, sadly, have been real duds—I’m telling you now to avoid Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut When You Finish Saving the World, which is mostly grating and struggles to really be about anything. Likewise stay away from Summering, a tween-girl… drama? Adventure? I’m still not sure what it was going for.
On the brighter side of things, though, a movie called After Yang is getting a ton of great buzz—I’m going to catch it tonight, it’s by a director who goes by the name Kogonada, whose quietly gorgeous film Columbus played at Sundance in 2017. This one is a science fiction-ish drama starring Colin Farrell, about a family who tries to resurrect their unresponsive robot companion they bought for their daughter. Which sounds like the setup for a bad comedy, but is, by all accounts, a deeply contemplative and compassionate film.
So I’m looking forward to that, but of what I’ve seen so far, the biggest knockout has been You Won’t Be Alone, a Macedonian folk horror movie that steals heavily from the great Terrence Malick, but does it very well, and understands what makes Malick’s style work so well. It’s about a woman who becomes a witch and shapeshifts into different forms as she tries to acclimate to society, and it’s meditative, ethereal, horrifying, and mesmerizing. If I see something I like more than this one, this is going to be a very good festival.