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CategoryIndie Film

Sundance: Resurrection

Margaret (Rebecca Hall) needs to be in control. At home, she’s an overprotective single mom to her 17 year old daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman). At work, she gives important life advice to an office newcomer and keeps her affair with married coworker Peter (Michael Esper) under wraps. Margaret craves control over the people in her life because at one time she sacrificed it her own. And this came at a great cost.

David (Tim Roth), a dark figure from Margaret’s past, is back. Margaret sees him everywhere and despite her attempts to get rid of him, he persists. David has something that Margaret lost many years ago and wants back. Will she have to sacrifice the life she’s built for herself to finally defeat David?

Written and directed by Andrew Semans, Resurrection is like Gaslight (1944) meets Rosemary’s Baby (1968) but on steroids. Rebecca Hall turns a wonderful performance as the increasingly paranoid Margaret. Tim Roth’s portrayal of David is absolutely chilling. The film is perfectly paced, gripping and will leave viewers in shock. The final scenes are unsettling and will leave viewers asking themselves: “What just happened?”. Resurrection must be seen to be believed and even then you might not realize what exactly was real and what wasn’t.

Resurrection premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It has since been acquired by IFC Films and Shudder.

Sundance: Brainwashed: Sex – Camera – Power

We need women filmmakers. Desperately. The male dominated film industry has been shaping how we view women over time by objectifying them in a way that skews the power dynamic over to the men and away from the women. And according to filmmaker Nina Menkes, this has lasting effects on how women are treated in the workplace, in public and at home. One way to balance this is to bring women filmmakers to the forefront, give them a platform where they can not only thrive but where they can share differing perspectives and points-of-view.

Based on her lecture Sex & Power, The Visual Language of Cinema, Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power is an illuminating study on the history of the male gaze in film. The documentary includes footage of Menkes’ lecture, interviews with theorists, directors and actresses and 175 film clips that demonstrate the male gaze. The clips run the gamut from Metropolis (1927) to Titane (2021). Menkes analyzes the majority of them and also includes women directed films to demonstrate the difference between not only the male gaze and the female gaze but also the female gaze with internalized misogyny. Menkes breaks down the analysis of the male gaze into five categories: Subject, Framing, Camera Movement, Lighting and Narrative Position. This documentary serves as the feminist film course that anyone interested in the history of film and the future of the industry should take. Menkes doesn’t make any direct correlations to the male gaze in film and real life consequences however it is suggested throughout the film. Brainwashed can be a tough pill to swallow but when we learn we grow.

Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

The Feast

Directed by Lee Haven Jones, The Feast is a Welsh horror film that pits the characters’ own greed and selfishness against themselves. Glenda (Nia Roberts) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) are hosting a dinner party at their home to convince their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to take a business proposition from Euros (Rhodri Meilir). Gwyn is a politician who’s made money hand over fist with shady business deals especially when it comes to crude oil. Their sons Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) and Guto (Steffan Cennydd) are outliers at the party, bitter against their parents and both engage in their own forms of self-punishment. The force of chaos comes in the form of Cadi (Annes Elwy) a young woman Glenda has hired to help with the dinner. Cadi is mysterious, quiet and about to give the dinner guests a taste of their own medicine.

The Feast is a visually captivating but ultimately shallow revenge horror film. The conceit is neither explained nor is it able to be pieced together with clues from different scenes. The mystery lacks resolution and will ultimately leave the viewer unsatisfied. 

The Feast is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time

“I have written again and again about ordinary people who have tried to behave decently in an indecent society.”

Kurt Vonnegut

One of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Robert Weide and co-directed by Don Argott. Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is a comprehensive look at the life and work of a brilliant mind through the eyes of a close friend. This documentary has been a long time in the making. Weide had first approached Vonnegut back in 1989 and started filming in 1994. Audiences sees lots of now archival footage of Vonnegut out and about, launching his last novel Timequake, interviews with Vonnegut’s children and nephews and extensive footage of Vonnegut and Weide’s close friendship.

The film explores Vonnegut’s childhood in Indiana, the trauma that drove his creativity after serving in WWII, his family life, his fruitful career as a magazine writer, the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five and much more. Because the filmmaker was a close friend of Vonnegut’s this biography already comes with some bias. I don’t feel like this hurt the film because it watches as a love letter from a friend to a cultural icon than perhaps a straightforward documentary. That adds a layer that fans of Vonnegut will appreciate. It reminded a bit of Martin Scorsese’s documentary A Letter to Elia (2010).

“Vonnegut took huge social, philosophical, existential, and religious issues and filtered them through this great sense of humor, this sort of grounded, simple, Midwestern sensibility. He was a humorist in the same vein as Mark Twain.”

Robert Weide

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.

Monday

Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough) are two thirty-something American expats living abroad in Athens, Greece. On one alcohol-fueled night, they meet at a party and their attraction is instant. After waking up naked on the beach the next day, Mickey and Chloe are inseparable. Chloe decides to stay behind with Mickey and they give a romantic relationship ago. The story follows them on a series of Fridays all leading up to an important Monday when Mickey will be able to resume shared custody of his son.

Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Monday meanders, which matches its beach-side vibe but does not necessarily make for an engaging plot. Chloe and Mickey are complex characters which makes them interesting but they require a particular type of viewer to sympathize with them and their journey. With that said, Denise Gough is a fantastic actress and adds gravitas to an otherwise breezy story. Worth watching for her performance.

Monday is distributed by IFC Films

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