News

As the rom-com still gasps for air in the blockbuster landscape, the Sundance Film Festival has become a reliable source for small, distinctive entries into the genre, from “Obvious Child” to “Palm Springs.” This year, the festival’s lineup yields the delightful “Rye Lane,” which takes a simple premise and infuses it with warm performances and a distinct sense of place. In Raine Allen-Miller’s debut feature, the two will-be lovebirds first encounter each other in a loo at an art show — he’s sobbing — and embark on a day of skirting responsibility and negotiating their own heartbreak. At just 82 minutes, Allen-Miller’s film is short, but packed to the brim with her affection for her characters and the place in world they occupy, the...
By now, on the eve of Oscars nominations, there are many prospective nominees that read as sure bets. For example, given all the recognition they have received from awards bodies that include Academy voters, it would truly be a shock not to see “TÁR” star Cate Blanchett or “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh nominated for Best Actress. Prognosticators may not be able to predict what the second half of the Best Picture nominees will be, but all feel comfortable saying “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “The Fabelmans” will get in there. To get a better gauge on what will be nominated and likely win every category at the 95th Oscars, read IndieWire’s predictions here. However, we thought it would also be fun to...
In the first third of “The Accidental Getaway Driver” you might think you’re in for the film of the festival at Sundance 2023. The setup is simple and suspenseful: Long (Hiệp Trần Nghĩa), an elderly Vietnamese immigrant who works as a driver is paid double for a late night assignment that turns out to be about keeping three escaped prisoners ahead of the law. When Tây (Dustin Nguyen), one of the convicts, points a gun at him to prevent him from bailing when he wants to get out, the tension ratchets up to the breaking point. But “The Accidental Getaway Driver” is not the film of the festival. And though the tension ratchets up there near the beginning, that’s as high as it goes for the whole movie. Instead, it’s merely a very promising...
From Pitsea railway station in south-central Essex, around 15 miles from London, you can get to a lot of places. Trains go to industrial port Tilbury further south, seaside paradise Southend to the east (admittedly: my home), and of course the Big Smoke a few minutes west. Georgie (newcomer Lola Campbell), a 12-year-old girl motoring through the stages of grief since losing her mom to an unspecified illness, couldn’t care less. The cookie-cutter estate where Georgie lives, all alone, is everything she needs. Debutant director Charlotte Regan and DP Molly Manning Walker make it feel like all Earth is there. Georgie’s self-contained world matches up with a fierce self-sufficiency. Her primary caregiver, aside from fictional uncle “Winston...
As a director, Justin Chon has long trafficked in stories about fractured families in heightened situations. “Gook” was about a pair of brothers running their father’s shoe store in the aftermath of his death and in the shadow of the Los Angeles riots. “Ms. Purple” followed estranged siblings trying to make amends with their father before his death. “Blue Bayou” cast Chon himself as an immigrant father attempting to stay in the U.S. while the government tries to toss him out. Fathers, children, and terrible outside forces are also at play in his fifth feature film, “Jamojaya,” which continues Chon’s traditional obsessions but wraps them in a shallow story filled with predictable problems, obvious baddies, and trite lessons. In...
There are few shots in “Drift” which don’t feature Cynthia Erivo’s Jacqueline — a Liberian woman educated in England, who ends up stranded in Greece — and the film is all the better for it. The third feature by Singaporean director Anthony Chen (“Ilo Ilo”), from a script by Susanne Farrell and Alexander Maksik (the latter of whom wrote the novel on which it was based), the movie skillfully bides its time over 90 minutes before revealing anything at all about its protagonist, or how she ended up wandering a tourist destination, like a spirit without purpose. By tethering itself to Erivo’s layered performance, as a woman who carries the weight of her past on her shoulders, “Drift” seldom needs to provide clear answers in order to be...
A whispered symphony of sense memories that cycles through the decades like rain water — heavy with images and ambient sounds that trickle down from the generations above before they’re absorbed into the earth and suffused back into the air — the vague but vividly rendered “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” runs a little drier every time writer-director Raven Jackson loops back to squeeze another drop of meaning from the textures and traditions that connect a Black Mississippi woman to the place where she was born (and vice-versa). Her name is Mackenzie, she’s played by a small troupe of different actresses over the course of Jackson’s freeform debut, and the body they share between them serves as a kind of living conduit between then...
The final word of Kristen Roupenian’s viral 2017 New Yorker short story “Cat Person” is a gut-punch, a fitting capper on 7,000-or-so words that alternate between the hilariously true and the painfully honest. As short stories go, Roupenian’s was a winner, a discomfiting tale that turned played-out romantic tropes (he’s awkward! she’s cute!) into something far richer and wiser. It follows the seemingly ill-fated and short-lived affair between college student Margot and older man (but not too much older) Robert as it dips from sweet to scary, awkward to downright creepy. For many women, it felt terribly, painfully familiar, and that it ended the way it did, with that single horrible word, was just perfect. One small problem for the...
Real summer camp buffs have this saying: “10 for 2,” meaning they spend 10 months out of the year looking forward to the two they will spend at summer camp. For some people, summer camp is their true home, the one place they can really be themselves, a treat that makes the real world bearable. For the kids (and adults) of Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman’s charming and hilarious “Theater Camp,” it’s also a place where they can hone their craft without the prying eyes of the decidedly non-theatrical in their lives. Cleverly conceived of as a mockumentary, “Theater Camp” picks up as our unnamed (and unseen) filmmakers are just a day into production. Their plan: follow a summer at “AdirondACTS,” an upstate New York theater camp run by the...
Hot off an Oscar win for his 2021 directorial debut “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is preparing to return to the director’s chair for another documentary about Black music history. The multi-hyphenate is currently at work on an untitled documentary about Sly and the Family Stone frontman Sylvester Stewart, better known by his stage name Sly Stone. In addition to directing, Questlove will produce the film alongside Stewart and Brian Gersh. The official synopsis for the untitled documentary reads: “Oscar-winning filmmaker Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson directs his sophomore feature documentary follow-up to ‘Summer of Soul,’ examining the life and legacy of Sly and the Family...
Laurel Parmet’s “The Starling Girl” tells a tale as old as time — the broad strokes of its story about the affair between a naïve teenage girl and a married older man who swears that he’ll leave his wife adhere to convention from start to finish — but the power of this sensitive and devilishly detailed coming-of-age drama is rooted in the friction that it finds between biblical paternalism and modern personhood. While young women have always been taught to be ashamed of their desires (hot take!), Parmet’s self-possessed debut is uncommonly well-attuned to how garbled that gospel might sound to a God-loving girl who’s been raised amid the echoes of a secular culture. Played by the ever-arresting Eliza Scanlen, Jem Starling isn’t the...
The Khan sisters aren’t just big dreamers; they’re big doers. Well, sort of. The British-Pakistani siblings — including oldest sister Lena (Ritu Arya) and baby sib Ria (breakout star Priya Kansara) — have always strived to carve their own path in the world, but as Lena’s dreams of being an artist start to wane, Ria’s aspirations to become a world-class stunt performer take on a much more important cast. Mostly, she’s gotta turn her love of ass-kicking into something that can do nothing less than save her entire world. For her first feature film, “We Are Lady Parts” creator Nida Manzoor weaves a hyper-creative coming-of-age tale about (pause to take a big breath): fighting the patriarchy, gut-punching feminine expectations, “The...
That sinking feeling you get watching a great conspiracy thriller usually boils down to this: all your worst fears are true. Doug Liman’s “Justice,” a breathtaking documentary about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s silenced sexual assault accusers, goes a long way to proving the reality of the fears at the heart of this particular case. That there was such a desire at several levels of government to see Kavanaugh on the bench due diligence wasn’t followed, and barely even attempted. A compelling piece of journalism, “Justice” is powered by the same cinematic verve Liman showed in the conspiracy-minded “The Bourne Identity” and “Fair Game.” Tightly edited to a coiled 84 minutes, the film doesn’t offer quite as many revelations...
Top