Sundance 2016 Film Reviews

Posted January 22, 2016 in
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This year’s Sundance Film Festival features a promising list of premieres in its 10-day film extravaganza, which comes to Park City and Salt Lake each January. With releases from Sundance veterans such as Ira Sachs (Little Men), Kelly Reichdart (Certain Women) and Kenneth Longeran (Manchester By The Sea) as well as other notable filmmakers such as Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits) and Kerem Senga (First Girl I Loved), Sundance 2016 promises to provide a hefty lineup of high-quality indie films. Below is a list of the best films SLUG Magazine has reviewed for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, with information on screenings throughout the festival.


Sundance 2016: 31Sundance 2016: 31

There was something oddly comforting about my experience with Rob Zombie’s psychobilly horror film. After so many of my film choices this year took me into territory that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for, 31 was exactly what I was hoping it would be—a heavily stylized jaunt into Rob Zombie’s carnival of carnage. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: AntibirthSundance 2016: Antibirth

A film like Antibirth is the reason that I’m willing to take a gamble on Sundance’s Midnight section. It strikes a rare balance in that it portrays a visually arresting and bizarre story while bringing relevant subtext and spot-on character acting along for the ride. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Captain FantasticSundance 2016: Captain Fantastic

Regardless of a filmmaker’s talent, making a meaningful drama about a quirky family is like navigating a minefield. Celluloid families are typically plagued with some degree of syrupy sweetness or sappy tragedy, but Matt Ross’s Captain Fantastic captures the emotional core of what makes all families tick and his stellar cast promptly follows suit. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Carnage ParkSundance 2016: Carnage Park

Writer/director Mickey Keating has tried his hand at many different horror subgenres, including sci-fi body horror with Pod and slow descents into madness with Darling. Carnage Park demonstrates his knack for imagining uniquely terrifying scenarios and then inflicting them upon his characters. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Certain WomenSundance 2016: Certain Women

Typically, shooting a film against the big sky country of Montana evokes images of tough guys doing tough things. While the tough things are still present, Kelly Reichardt’s introspective film focuses on the women who ultimately pick up the pieces after the tough guys break themselves apart. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: The Eyes of My MotherSundance 2016: The Eyes of My Mother

Francisca witnesses the brutal murder of her mother, who taught her how to suture the flesh of dead cows and desensitized her to death. She’s lonely. With an injured sense of what makes for a meaningful relationship, Francisca seeks a companion. Shot in dreary black and white, The Eyes of My Mother shocks and challenges tastefully. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: First Girl I LovedSundance 2016: First Girl I Loved

Anne finds herself to be attracted to Sasha, a girl on their high school’s softball team. When Anne tries to tell her bestie, Clifton, though, he reveals his feelings for her, which compromise Anne’s simple intention to woo the girl she has a crush on. First Girl I Loved provides alternatively styled narration as to how Anne navigates her desire for Sasha. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: The FitsSundance 2016: The Fits

Toni has been training for boxing with her older brother, Jermaine, and is damn good at it, too. Once she sees that the other girls at Lincoln Community Center perform cool hip-hop–inflected drill dance, though, she switches over. The Fits witnesses Toni’s physical transformation as she imbues boxing with dancing, and vice versa. Read More…

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The Greasy StranglerSundance 2016: The Greasy Strangler

Amid tableaus that fixate on cartoonish gore, ungainly sex, feral pubic hair and lurid sausage consumption, The Greasy Strangler does tell a story—I think. Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) run a two-bit disco tour in some discarded Los Angelino hell hole. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Land of the EnlightenedSundance 2016: The Land of the Enlightened

Shot on 16-mm. film, The Land of the Enlightened vibrantly fuses documentary filmmaking with fictive storytelling dynamics. The film illuminates the lifestyles of a handful Afghans amid continued U.S. occupation, and also examines the feelings and tensions of sustained U.S. presence in the country. What’s more, this film treats its viewers to the stunning natural beauty of Afghanistan. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: The LobsterSundance 2016: The Lobster

In a dystopian future, David must find a partner in 45 days, or else he will be transformed into an animal of his choice. Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster bears witness to the process by which David seeks a mate against this impending consequence. Mind-warping twists abound in this film—The Lobster does not disappoint. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: The LureSundance 2016: The Lure

Polish musicians encounter Silver and Golden, mermaids who’ve come to the shore to live among humans. Silver becomes infatuated with bar-band bassist Mietek, but Golden takes pleasure in more carnal activities … the kind where she rips into flesh with her mermaid fangs. The Lure promises dark and weird fun as a Sundance musical. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Mapplethorpe Look At The PicturesSundance 2016: Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures

Whether you’re an avid follower of Robert Mapplethorpe’s career or just now hearing about him, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures offers a comprehensive look at his controversial oeuvre. Read More…

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My Friend From The ParkSundance 2016: My Friend From The Park

Liz’s husband, Gustavo, is filming a documentary about a volcano in Chile, while she must remain in Argentina to take care of their infant son, Nicanor. She takes Nicanor to the park seeking interaction with other people—for her benefit and her baby’s. Once she meets Rosa, her nerves will stand a few tests. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: NUTS!Sundance 2016: NUTS!

NUTS! tells the story of Dr. Brinkley and his bizarrely successful attempt to build an empire on a foundation of trans-species testicular transplants. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Plaza de la SoledadSundance 2016: Plaza de la Soledad

Plaza de la Soledad examines the lives of sex workers in Mexico City. The women that director Maya Goded features in this documentary provide enduring sisterhood for each other amid a lifestyle in which they maintain volition over their own destinies. Each woman speaks for herself about her experience in this insightful film. Read More…

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Sky-Ladder-The-Art-of-Cai-Guo-QiangSundance 2016: Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang takes a look at the contemporary artist in its title, Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai began following in his father’s footsteps with traditional Chinese calligraphy folk art, but once he discovered the aesthetic power of explosives and fireworks, he fast-tracked himself to becoming a seminal artist. One project whose completion has eluded him, though, is Sky Ladder. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Trash FireSundance 2016: Trash Fire

The horror/comedy is a tricky genre to blend. While it seems like the two fit hand in hand, very few directors have been able to actually make it work. The problem with Trash Fire is that director and screenwriter Richard Bates, Jr. tried to make a horror/comedy that was also a family drama, a treatise on mental illness and a critique of religious conservatism. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Under the ShadowSundance 2016: Under the Shadow

Before Under the Shadow really starts to get under the audience’s skin, we’re introduced to Shideh, an Iranian woman who is focused on reapplying to university in order to finish her medical degree. When her appeal is rejected because of her past political activism, she retreats into a shell of hostility and resentment towards her husband Iraj and daughter Dorsa. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: WildSundance 2016: Wild

Ania endures a monotonous work life and sticks to her daily routine. When she sees a wolf in the park, however, their mutual gaze sparks a fire in her heart. Ania explores bestial attraction in Wild as she renounces the expectations of her job, her family and human-constructed boundaries. Read More…

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Sundance 2016: Yoga HosersSundance 2016: Yoga Hosers

My introduction to Kevin Smith began early in my life. My older brother rented Clerks and threw it into our VCR (yep. That long ago) without really considering the fact that his eighth-grade kid brother was in the same room. The Mallrats soundtrack was the first CD that I ever bought with my own money, and Weezer’s “Suzanne” still manages to fill me with high school nostalgia. Read More…

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