Anne (Trine Dyrholm) has everything; a loving husband, an incredible job as an attorney doing admirable work, two beautiful daughters, a magnificent home, the perfect life. However, she is somebody who constantly seeks controversy, starting petty arguments with her husband and operating outside the legal bounds of her job to tell-off defendants she prosecutes who got off clean. This character flaw eventually becomes her downfall when her troubled teenage stepson, Gustav (Gustav Lindh), moves in with her family and they have an affair behind his father’s (her husband’s) back. Put rather simply, this is one of the best films I have ever seen. Director May el-Toukhy is so commandeeringly in control of your emotions from one scene to the next, that we feel like puppets on the end of a string, but we can’t resist coming back for more time and again. While this film may not be for all — with some rather graphic pornographic scenes and a hauntingly depressing end — those who are willing to put themselves through emotional hell for two hours and seven minutes will surely be blown away by Queen of Hearts, even if that means they’ll never watch it again.
After winning the Dramatic Directing Award in 2016 with his debut feature Swiss Army Man (2016), director Daniel Scheinert returned to Sundance with what is sure to be one of the most rambunctious and infectiously funny comedies of the year. Filmed in his home state of Alabama, The Death of Dick Long follows Zeke and Earl trying to cover up the death of their third bandmate, Dick Long. As the film progresses, it’s hard to decide who is dumber - Zeke and Earl, or the cops trying to put the puzzle pieces together and solve the mysterious murder. While the first ⅔ of the film are laugh out loud funny and a sprawling tale of mischief that becomes more and more absurd by the minute, a tonal change with the reveal of how Dick died going into the final act kills the momentum that had been building up to that point. Alas, a touching final few scenes, orchestrated perfectly to “The Weight of Lies” by The Avett Brothers, close the film on a high note, and remind us just how special and inspired this movie really is.
The Infiltrators is a part documentary, part narrative feature recounting how a youth activist group, The Dreamers, purposely had themselves detained and put into a Border Patrol deportation prison to help other illegal immigrants escape from the inside out. Though viewers will certainly be split along party lines in their feelings about the film’s subject matter, no one can deny the inspiring commitment these teenagers show in standing up for what they believe in the face of one of the world’s most powerful governments. Admittedly, the mixture of the documentary aspects of the film and the narrative scenes don’t mix too well, but it’s hard to fault the idea behind it, with the filmmakers attempting to show an exciting story while also highlighting the facts and larger political scene outside what was happening in the prison. Regardless, the filmmakers’ ambition is intoxicating, as well as the tangible passion they bring to every single scene, and the film makes for an interesting, if flawed viewing that pushes the boundaries of storytelling in a compelling direction.
Femi, a second generation Nigerian boy living in England, is uprooted from a tranquil life in the English countryside and moved to inner city London when his mother reclaims custody from his foster mother. Struggling to adapt to the foreign and chaotic environment, Femi gets wrapped up in a world of drugs, violence, and academic shortcomings that he must fight to get out of before it’s too late. Surely, Amoo’s directorial style is irresistible to the eye, with shot after shot painted just as beautiful as the last. However, while there are some powerful scenes throughout the film, they don’t add up to much in the end, and a last act — that feels as if it was just slapped on during post-production to bolster the film’s runtime — proves just that. Still, Amoo’s vision is something to be applauded, and there is no doubt stronger work lies on the horizon where he can combine his strong visuals with better storytelling.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s Sundance horror hit, Hereditary (2018), The Lodge was surely one of the most anticipated selections in the Midnight category. While it might not have made quite the splash that Ari Aster’s film did, The Lodge proved itself to be a a tense psychological horror that keeps you guessing until the very end. In what could be described as a cross between The Shining (1980) and The Thing (1982), two children — in the wake of their mother’s suicide — are forced to stay in a snowed in cabin with their father’s new fiance, who just so happens to be linked to a satanic cult from her childhood. Although the plot and situational setup seems rather cliche at the beginning of the film, shocking twists come time and again that force viewers to question who it is we’re supposed to be rooting for as well as who to trust.
After his mother is admitted to a mental institution and his father dies from a sudden heart attack, zamboni driver, Andy (Tye Sheridan), embarks on a road trip from hospital to hospital photographing surgery patients for a lobotomist, Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum). Quite frankly, The Mountain should be avoided at all costs. The film’s stoic, sterile nature, void of any emotion or compassion, is too heavy-handedly bleak, resulting in viewer’s not being attracted to the story or characters but being held away at arm's length, but rather us not wanting to touch anything happening on screen with a 10 foot pole. Admittedly, the first 20 minutes are intriguing for these same reasons, but the act gets old shortly, and culminates with a completely incoherent third act that goes on for far too long.
By: Quinten Sansosti
Quinten is currently a junior majoring in Political Science with an Arts of the Moving Image certificate. His favorite filmmakers include Quentin Tarantino, Denis Villeneuve, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.