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Hybrid Sundance

Back in COVID, Sam and I had split a virtual pass to the Sundance Film Festival. This year, like so many other events, it went hybrid! We still got our virtual pass, with new rules this time, and supplemented those movies with four more that I wanted to see but that were only offered in theaters. By the time I was done with the week, I’d watched 14 full length movies and over 50 short films. My goal during Sundance is basically to melt my brain with indie films, and in that, I definitely succeeded.

Some highlights:

Scrapper: This movie was SO good. I watched it by myself and sobbed. It ended up winning the international film dramatic prize. Basically, it’s a tough-as-nails little girl who is living alone after her mom dies, stealing bicycles and pretending to be her own guardian to the social worker. Her dad comes to the house and tries to take care of her, even though he wasn’t around and she doesn’t want adult supervision. I’m not sure how wide a release it’s going to get, but if you have a chance to see it, do.

Fair Play: This one got acquired by Netflix so I know it’s going to be available at some point. Two hedge fund managers are secretly dating, despite it being against company rules, and one of them gets a promotion to be the other one’s boss. The effects ripple across their power dynamics and their relationship. It was so well done, and was one of the best movies I saw over the week.

Onyx the Fortuitous and Talisman of Souls: Honestly, the dark horse of this festival week. This was one of the last movies I watched, and my whole household was movied out, but I was determined to finish out the challenge. I put it on while we made coffee and by the time everyone was halfway through their first cup, they were sold. Really fun, and takes itself exactly as seriously as it should (read: not very). 

You Hurt My Feelings: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of my all time favorite actors, and I thought she was a delight in this. It’s all about the little white lies we tell each other, and the unintended consequences of that.

Infinity Pool: So the real reason to see this at Sundance was to see the official “director’s cut,” which was officially NC-17. This is the only NC-17 movie I’ve ever seen in the theater. It was wild to get carded going to a movie. Honestly, not the most violent or grossest horror movie I’ve ever seen – there were a few very specific scenes that I imagine can’t be shown when things are rated R, but I had honestly expected it to be more upsetting. That said, I think it’s an interesting concept and it was done well. It went in a different direction than I expected but I liked it.

Theater Camp: It’s truly a love letter to being a theater kid (which I wasn’t, but as a dance kid, I was adjacent and I love musicals enough that I almost qualify). I went to dance camp for three summers in a row and they captured the energy of those arts camps. The kids they cast were crazy talented and it was a fun watch.

Magazine Dreams: I’m not sure if I would recommend this movie, if we’re being honest. It’s Black Swan meets bodybuilding, and it is a very intense watch. But Jonathan Majors was INCREDIBLE in it. Yes, I’ve read recent headlines, and it’s a real bummer to see the domestic violence allegations. It still stands as one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen.

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