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Sundance Review || "Mistress America"

Noah Baumbach again arrives in auspicious fashion, delivering a fast-talking farcical bumblebee of a film whose honey is sweet and sting is bruising. It's as much a diatribe about the fickle nature of youth as it is a pure slapstick comedy, featuring a humdinger of a hipster prophet in the form of a footloose Greta Gerwig. Baumbach's latest is also decidedly his lightest, opting for a kind of 21st century update to the surrealist verisimilitude of "I Love Lucy" or a feminist take on "The Three Stooges" - that is, it's his brand of "But ours goes to 11" absurd. Everything he and his characters touch upon is based in reality - on someone, on something, on somewhere - but is forcefully exaggerated in its screwy presentation. As such, Mistress America has allowed Baumbach and Gerwig to craft modern day archetypes - the awkwardly desirable nerd, the college-bound tabula rasa, the hipster goddess - and mock them to high heavens in pure unapologetically absurdist manner.

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Sundance Review || "Last Days in the Desert"

Director Rodrigo García claimed two themes interested him most in his articulation of Jesus' untold 40 day fast in the desert. The first: the primordial idea of how a boy becomes a man, a step that Garcia contents happens "with or without his father's help of permission." The second theme surrounds the notion of creationism, both in a spiritual and storyteller's sense. García himself underwent a creation process in the construction of Last Days in the Desert, weaving a fictitious narrative out of a notable absence in Jesus' origin story - only mentioned in passing in the Gospels but entirely bereft of detail. This absence of a story drew García to the project, offering him an entrance into a narrative that felt to him inspired, fresh and wildly important.  

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Sundance Review || "People, Places, Things"


Having retired from his role as the Hiphopopotamus, Jemaine Clement frequents our living rooms and theaters all too infrequently. His 2014 cameo in Muppets Most Wanted didn't nearly suffice to fill our favorite Kiwi quotient and we've yet to take in his lauded vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows (though we eagerly anticipated its eventual stateside arrival.) Nor can we really kid ourselves into believing that Clement's existence beyond Flight of the Concords has been far-reaching - though his role as Boris the Animal was an easy highlight of Men in Black 3 and tapped into his unrealized Hollywood potential. So it's with a heaving sigh of relief that we can announce that Clement has finally been given a role worthy of his gawky stature in the delightful, funny and tender People, Places, Things.

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Sundance Review || "The Witch"

What do 1630, a silver cup, Christian fervor and a goat named Black Phillip have in common? The Witch. Unholy goodness through and through, Robert Egger's feature film debut is a horror masquerading as a costume drama that's as beady, black and misshapen as the center of a goat's eye. Beneath the dirt-stained, leather-bound waistcoats, the perfumed, toity language of the New World, the white bonnets and constrictive girdles, The Witch has a vicious, illict and suspicious center and though admittedly scaled back on "scares" is deeply atmospheric, deeply disturbing and deeply great.

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