Just over a week ago, the 2018 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up in Park City, Utah. It featured such unique offerings as Mandy, featuring Nicolas Cage on a bloody quest for revenge in the Shadow Mountains. Paul Dano teams up again with Prisoners co-star Jake Gyllenhaal in Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife. Maybe Dano turns the tables and throws Gyllenhaal in a scalding shower! The following are just a few of the other Sundance entries worth watching for in the coming year.
Usually a documentarian, director Jennifer Fox blends truth and fiction in The Tale, a story about Fox’s teenage sexual experience with an older man and his enabling girlfriend. Laura Dern plays the character Jennifer Fox, a deliberate choice by Fox to remind audiences that the events are real. The film details the elaborate grooming on Fox when, at 13, she spent a summer with Mrs. G, a horse trainer, and her boyfriend Bill, a running coach. As an adult, Fox returns to the experience, forcing herself to reframe it as the sexual abuse it was.
Picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures, RBG is not the Dead Prez album, but a documentary about the original Judge Judy: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen detail the life of the 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice that comedian Kate McKinnon depicts on SNL as a spunky, liberal, death cheater. The documentary is an homage to the woman that – no joke – many of us hope cheats death forever.
You Were Never Really Here
Director Lynne Ramsay’s films are equally unforgettable and uncomfortable. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) will freeze the spine of any mother (or anyone who thought Psycho was too much like The Brady Bunch). Movern Callar (2002) is about a woman who makes lemonade out of lemons when she takes credit for her boyfriend’s latest novel after he kills himself. She then chops up his body and parties in Spain. Ramsay’s newest film about a troubled ex-FBI agent played by Joaquin Phoenix should be spectacular.
Leave No Trace
The only good film starring Jennifer Lawrence was director Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), in which J Law had to cook rodents and find her dead father’s hands to collect on money, lest she and her younger siblings starve to death. Granik returns with Leave No Trace, based on Peter Rock’s novel about another family trying to make ends meet. Ben Foster plays Will, a father suffering from PTSD while trying to raise his daughter Tom in a state park outside of Portland, Ore., away from civilization and its triggers. The state gets involved for Tom’s sake as Will does what he can to stay with Tom.