In last week’s issue, I walked you through the first half of some of the films I was able to see as a press member at the Sundance Film Festival. In this week’s issue, I want to tell you about some more of the great films I was able to see. Now more than ever, these films are receiving more buzz, so you should definitely check them out for yourself and form your own opinions!
“On the Count of Three” directed by Jerrod Carmichael: This film is the directorial debut from Jerrod Carmichael starring Carmichael and Christopher Abbott as two best friends who are sick and tired of the mundanity of everyday life. They decide that the best thing to do is to spend one last day together before completing a suicide pact. This film was easily my favorite of the entire festival! While handling sensitive subject matter, Carmichael is able to straddle the fine line between dark comedy and drama, balancing the two genres well. The writing is fantastic as viewers empathize with both Abbott and Carmichael’s characters and want what is best for them. The acting is also a strong point, but Abbott outshines the rest of the cast as the true highlight. Every year, Christopher Abbott wows me with his performances, and this is another fantastic entry in his career. The themes of trauma and nostalgia are played throughout the film, but are given a unique spin.
“On the Count of Three” is a fantastic “dudes rock” movie. It is funny and depressing, it doesn’t have a hard time trying to display the two genres and it is filled with excellent writing and performances.
“John and the Hole” directed by Pascual Sisto: This film is another directorial debut, this time from writer and director Pascual Sisto. The story follows John, a young boy who decides it would be fun to throw his family in a bunker outside of his house. Why? For no reason! This film is just an attempt at being an A24 thriller, with its droning score, 4:3 aspect ratio and an ambiguous ending that left me confused, doing a bit of head-scratching. The acting was fine, but nothing seemed to completely “wow” me. What bugged me the most about this film was that there was no motivation for any of the characters; everything simply happened for no previously established reason. Also, the story jumps to another family who is telling this story, but it becomes a jumbled mess by the end of it. “John and the Hole” attempts to be a modern version of the 2020 film “Black Bear,” but comes off as lazy and makes “Black Bear” look better than it already is.
“The Sparks Brothers” directed by Edgar Wright: This documentary is the debut documentary feature from acclaimed writer and director Edgar Wright. The film tells the story of a duo band from the 1970s, called the Sparks, and it focuses on their rise in popularity as well as their cult following that developed. I hope Wright does more documentary work because this was really great! Wright presents this story in an engaging way that doesn’t have the same dull, boring feel that many assume documentaries have. Instead of the typical Ken Burns documentary style of simply including interviews and photos, Wright uses a combination of filmmaking techniques such as animation, live-action and vintage footage to create a masterful piece of work. He also collaborates with different actors and musicians that will surely make fans happy. My only issue with “The Sparks Brothers” is that it is a bit too long and drags on during the latter half of the film. It opens with such high energy, but is unable to keep the same tone throughout; it fizzles out by the end.
“The Sparks Brothers” is a fun and entertaining documentary about a cult band that, personally, even as a non-fan, I had an easy time following. Yet again, Wright knocks it out of the park.
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” directed by Jane Schoenbrun: This is yet another feature film debut from filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun. This horror film follows Casey, a young introverted girl who participates in a challenge titled “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.” This film will divide many for sure; some will love its atmospheric overtones and unsettling moments, while others will clock out after 30 minutes. However, I believe this is one of the best films placed in the modern horror genre. Schoenbrun understands internet culture and how it has impacted our generation, and I can go as far as to say that this is THE film that tackles that theme. It is creepy and horrifying from the start and never lets go. It makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed throughout, but you must let the fear wash over you. The film is carried by a bone-chilling performance by Anna Cobb and a somber, yet beautiful, score by artist Alex G. The pacing is tight and hypnotic, and the direction has such an excellent execution of the risks it takes.
I hope this film gets distributed or picked up soon because I would love everyone to see it. It is one of the pieces of horror that I dearly adore and hope you do too!