The best of Sundance 2019
The best of Sundance 2019
BY : ANNA NOLAN
I love Los Angeles and Sundance Film Festival for the same reasons. Sundance is capable of creating for adults the same level of unrestricted magic that young children encounter at a place like Disneyland. Instead of being the happiest place on earth, for a few weeks of out the ear Park City, Utah is the dreamiest. The dreams vary, they can be sad or hopeful, young or insightful. In any case, everywhere you go in this snowy town, you’ll encounter powerful dreams. Dreaming in the line waiting to see a film, at panels, sitting on the bus, walking down Main Street, and of course in every single film. Here are the most notable:
BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE
Starring Pete Davidson and directed by Jason Orley, this film does something I consider to be particularly difficult; it creates a character that feels universally relatable, while maintaining relevance in 2019. It invites us to investigate and unravel the things that make up its version of “cool” which proves to be both an engaging and therapeutic process for both the audience and the protagonist. It’s packed with believably fun moments, exchanges of admiration, and many instances of the fluttery feeling of newness that comes with inexperience.
Ms. Purple takes an interest in some of the lesser understood family relationships: brother and sister, father and daughter, father and son. Bookmarked by palm trees and sun-drenched moments, the film feels hopeful in its desperation as these kids care for their dying father and each other. Jake Choi as the brother fills the screen with lightness and calm as he rolls his dad’s bed around Los Angeles, dropping popsicle bits on his face and infuriating strangers and shop owners.
This film does something seemingly unremarkable; following a collective of high school kids living in the small Florida town of Pahokee. In this town the high school is the center. The care put into every football game and school dance is astonishing. The streets close on multiple occasions to send down the street Pahokee High School floats. While making the film, directors Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas lived alongside residents in Pahokee, attending community cookouts and family dinners, sometimes filming them. Perhaps most touched by their version of Pahokee were the subjects of the film. Their individual friendships with the directors led to moments of pure honesty and unrestricted emotion.
WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES
We Are Little Zombies, a story about four orphans who start a band, is truly spectacular. If you wrote down every idea you’ve ever had for the way to shoot a scene, you might begin to approach half of the ideas used in this film. Oftentimes, when a film mixes so many stylistic formats, the style becomes the story and the words and thoughts of characters matter less so. Makoto Nagahisa, director and writer, doesn’t let this happen. The end result is the first film I’ve seen that feels like a child wrote and directed it. It’s fearless, filled with ideas, and dressed up like a video game. It’s funny and inspiring.
Share is special for its slowness. It’s maybe not the most exciting of the bunch, but I left feeling like I’d been showered with validation for the anxiety that follows every night I’ve forgotten to remember. It follows a girl in high school as videos of her blackout drunk circulate among classmates. She begins to live very slowly, laying on basketball courts, befriending ants on windowsills, sustaining herself with Slurpees from 7-Eleven, every act punctuated by the ping of notifications. Not knowing what happened that night stops her from letting anything new happen to her. The film’s navigation of blame and emotion feels honest and sad.
Honey Boy broke my heart. This is a story not about what made Honey Boy exceptional, but my failed quest to see it. I was rejected by Honey Boy on three occasions. First came the party. After standing in a considerable line with three people on the “list,” one who had agreed to temporarily pose as my girlfriend, after an hour and a half of teeth chattering and numb toes, I was told to leave. I forgive you Honey Boy, so I’ll try again. Next came a press and industry screening, where most of the working press were turned away. Finally there was an evening screening at the farthest theater, the northern tip of the festival, a place with chilled wind and fewer bus stops. When there was no space for waitlisters or volunteers, I saw the midnight shorts instead. I am certain that Honey Boy will be good for Alma Har’el’s directing (Bombay Beach) and Shia LaBeouf’s choice to share something personal. Sundance crowds know best.