Sundance Critic’s Notebook
Film: Sundance Capsule Reviews
Keeping it in the Family
Norman Lear: Another Version of You (Directed by Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing. Featuring Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Mel Brooks)
Norman Lear revolutionized the small screen by creating characters such as Archie Bunker, Maude and the Jeffersons, but as this sweet documentary portrait makes abundantly clear, he was also a true Mensch. Constantly striving to make the world a better place by forcing his fellow citizens to face intolerance and prejudice through narrative, Lear found the fussy fulcrum between entertainment and enlightenment. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s (Jesus Camp, Detropia) opening night feature doesn’t reinvent any wheels of form as it relates the story of Lear’s fascinating life, but it does try some different techniques, such as archival projections over re-enacted moments, and the irritating use of a young actor to play Lear’s inner child and former self. Because Lear is such a grand ...
Under the Gun at Sundance
Film: Sundance Film Festival
Director Stephanie Soechtig and producer Katie Couric take aim at the rhetoric of fear and the politics of paranoia surrounding firearm regulation in the U.S.
By Katherine Monk
PARK CITY, UT — The explosive topic of gun control isn’t just at the heart of two documentaries here at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s an issue that’s seeped into the very fabric of the Sundance vibe.
For the first time ever, attendees must undergo a security check before entering a theatre. Bags are screened, coats must be unzipped and open — and they aren’t just checking for recording devices.
According to organizers, the festival didn’t receive any specific threat to mandate the new policy. It’s just a new measure to keep up with the new American reality, where mass shootings are almost commonplace and ordinary citizens are at risk of a violent death at the hands of a gun-toting stranger.
It’s a fact that haunts and conflicts the ...
Redford defends Sundance’s record on diversity
Film: Sundance Film Festival 2016
Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford says the whole reason he started programming films in Utah's Wasatch Mountains was to broaden the world of mainstream filmmaking to include other voices.
By Katherine Monk
PARK CITY, UTAH - It used to be called an “Oscar race.” Now it’s all about race and the Oscars.
It’s an issue that’s settled into the tissue of the film industry like a bad infection, threatening to throw the whole system into sepsis, and prompting a wholesale change to the way the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences functions as an organization.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced new initiatives Friday, hoping to stop the growing momentum behind a celebrity boycott, assuring the public the Academy membership would look a lot different by the year 2020, with more representation from non-white males, and more women.
Even here at the Sundance Film Festival, where the mountain air and a host of ...
Director trades quick-draws for Slow West
First-time feature director John Maclean takes on western archetype and the core ideals of the American ethos in Slow West, his Sundance-winning feature starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee
By Katherine Monk
It's a genre marked by star-shaped badges and John Wayne’s lanky swagger, an optimistic ode to masculine heroes and horses. Yet, for all the fanatical affection lathered on westerns as a fundamental part of the American identity, historically speaking, most westerns are horse manure.
It’s a point John Maclean isn’t all that eager to assert right off the top, given he’s a Scotsman and his debut feature, Slow West, takes the viewer straight back to the open prairie and the romantic vistas revealed in early John Ford movies.
“Being Scottish, and tackling such a sacred American genre certainly crossed my mind the first time I watched it with an audience in the U.S.,” says Maclean, shortly after the film’s world premiere at the Sundance film festival, ...