8 items from 2017
“If someone can hypnotize you with only a row, then that person is a genius,” says Israeli dancer Yossi Yungman, recalling wistfully the first time he saw an Ohad Naharin piece. By the end of “Mr. Gaga,” a new documentary about Naharin from Tomer Heymann, even the most dance-illiterate viewer would enthusiastically agree.
Naharin is best known as the inventor of “Gaga,” a movement language that emphasizes seeing and imagining over performing. Put your arms in front of you, and slowly roll your shoulders, giving no thought to how it looks. Now let your head drop from your neck any which way you want. Try to connect to your inner animal. Now you’re on your way to understanding “Gaga.”
Ohad Naharin grew up on a kibbutz in Israel. Through home video footage, we see that he was a gifted dancer from the outset. “The idea of physical pleasure from »
- Jude Dry
Burgeoning sexuality is the basis for nearly all coming-of-age films, but with her specific eye, Eliza Hittman makes it feel like we’re watching this genre unfold for the first time. With only two features to her name, she’s captured the experience with a sensuality and intimacy nearly unprecedented in American independent filmmaking. Following 2013’s It Felt Like Love, the writer-director follows it with another look at the teenage experience in Brooklyn for this year’s Beach Rats, this time with a protagonist five years older and of a different gender.
We first meet the 19-year-old Frankie (Harris Dickinson) as he poses, shirtless, in front of a mirror in his dark basement. Only illuminated by his selfie camera flashes, we see this display of masculinity, then soon learn he stores these photos on a computer, the same one he browses a gay Brooklyn-based webcam/hook-up site. His desires, which »
- Jordan Raup
Frankie, the oh-so-beautiful, oh-so-confused teenage protagonist of “Beach Rats,” isn’t much for answering questions. “I don’t know what I like,” he says curtly, if not dishonestly, to the various older men, sought in gay chat rooms, who want to know if they turn him on. And when a hesitantly acquired girlfriend asks him, twice, if he finds her pretty, he pointedly refuses to answer, bouncing the question back at her in a tone that’s both taunting and searching. Writer-director Eliza Hittman has a sensitive ear for the way adolescents reveal themselves through evasion: It’s a tension crucial to this anxious, tactile, profoundly sad study of a young man’s journey of sexual self-discovery and self-betrayal on the luridly faded boardwalks of Brooklyn.
- Guy Lodge
Two movies into a promising career, Eliza Hittman has already developed a significant vision of restless urban youth troubled by their emerging sexuality and a society that hinders their development. Her feature-length debut, 2013’s “It Felt Like Love,” focused on the bumpy trajectory of an introverted teenage woman exploring her urges with dangerous results; with the markedly similar “Beach Rats,” Hittman brings the same tropes to the plight of a young man in a film that has the precision of a great short story and the uneasiness of body horror. Even as its plot suggests more traditional coming-of-age dynamics, the filmmaker doesn’t retread familiar territory so much as reinvent it.
Both eerie and exciting, “Beach Rats” finds its closeted protagonist hiding his gay dalliances from his masculine buddies against a grimy Brooklyn backdrop. His unnerving experiences take place against an uneven series of circumstances and occasional plot holes, but »
- Eric Kohn
This year’s Sundance Film Festival is mere days from unspooling in snowy Park City, Utah and, with it comes a brand new year of indie filmmaking to get excited about. As ever, the annual festival is playing home to dozens of feature films, short offerings and technologically-influenced experiences, and while there’s plenty to anticipate seeing, we’ve waded through the lineup to pick out the ones we’re most looking forward to checking out.
From returning filmmakers like Alex Ross Perry and Gillian Robesepierre to a handful of long-gestating passion projects and at least one film about a ghost, we’ve got a little something for every stripe of film fan.
Read More: Sundance 2017: Check Out the Full Lineup, Including Competition Titles, Premieres and Shorts
Ahead, check out 20 titles we’re excited to finally check out at this year’s festival.
The trifecta behind previous Sundance »
- Chris O'Falt, Eric Kohn, Graham Winfrey, Jude Dry, Kate Erbland, Steve Greene and Zack Sharf
Ahead of its release next month, the first trailer and poster have arrived online for writer-director Tim Sutton’s upcoming drama Dark Night, which is loosely based on the tragic events of the 2012 mass shooting at Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises; take a look below…
A haunting, artfully understated critique of American gun culture, Tim Sutton’s third feature is loosely based around the 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado that took place during a multiplex screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Employing a mesmerizing documentary-style technique and a cast of non-professional actors, Dark Night follows the activities of six strangers over the course of one day, from sunrise to midnight, the shooter among them. Shot in Sarasota, Florida and lensed by veteran French Dp Hélène Louvart (Pina, The Beaches Of Agnes), the dream-like visuals articulate both Sutton’s carefully crafted landscapes and the characters’ sense of alienation and suburban malaise. »
- Amie Cranswick
A year after premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Tim Sutton’s “Dark Night” is set to arrive in theaters courtesy of Cinelicious Pics. An elliptical quasi-documentary, the film brings to mind Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” (and, for that matter, Alan Clarke’s “Elephant”) as it explores the day leading up to a tragedy that’s modeled in part after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado of 2012. Find the film’s trailer and poster below.
The trailer offers glimpses of the nonprofessional actors who make up Sutton’s cast and keeps viewers guessing as to who among them might be plotting violence as day slowly turns into night. Hélène Louvart (“Pina,” “The Beaches of Agnes”) shot “Dark Night,” and her cinematography is its most distinctive, arresting element — all mood and atmosphere, the film relies on »
- Michael Nordine
One of the most controversial and haunting films of last year’s Sundance Film Festival line-up was Tim Sutton‘s follow-up to Memphis, Dark Night. An impressionistic feature loosely based on the horrific 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado which left 12 people died, the first trailer has now arrived ahead of a release next month. Featuring a portrait of a suburban community before hinting at the terror to come, it looks to be one of the year’s essential films.
We said in our review, “In many ways, writer-director Tim Sutton‘s third feature, Dark Night, exists in the same world as his first two films, Pavilion and Memphis. As we follow a collection of young men and women drifting through a long day in the American suburbs, many of the themes from his earlier work shine through — boredom as punctuated by anger, lust, and artistic ambition, to name a few. Where »
- Jordan Raup
8 items from 2017
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