Biggest Day Yet
January 31, 2021
Today marked my single biggest day of movie watching, with nine films. To accomplish that, the extra events, like “The Sundance Dailies” and the interviews with Robin Wright and Rebecca Hall, as well as the Q&A’s after the films got pushed to the side. Another thing I’m pushing to the side today is more in-depth recaps throughout my entire day. I’ll toss in the regular Twitter blurb reviews.
8:00 AM — FILM #10: “JOHN AND THE HOLE”
JOHN AND THE HOLE bubbles with subtle unease, as straight-faced young Charlie Shotwell speaks volumes with his muted looks. Pascual Sisto’s influences shine brightly through his debut, but there are a strong proficiency and exclusivity to his voice.
10:00 AM — FILM #11: “THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET“
THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET opens on a man’s struggle with his dog and devolves into a pandemic and bubble helmets. The crisp, black-and-white cinematography acts as a life preserver in the Argentinian film, helping tread through Katz’s meandering storytelling.
11:15 AM — FILM #12: “HOW IT ENDS”
HOW IT ENDS depicts a subsection of Los Angeles, the day before an asteroid destroys Earth. The chemistry between Zoe Lister-Jones and Cailee Spaeny, as they walk the streets interacting with the ensemble cast, makes for a whimsical, albeit slightly stunted, comedy.
12:30 PM — A TRIP TO JURASSIC QUEST
After three films in the morning, the girls and I took an afternoon break to visit some dinosaurs in Pasadena, CA. A drive-thru event titled “Jurassic Quest” takes you on a guided tour through the prehistoric, showing you the immensity of the dinosaurs that used to walk the earth. My kids really got a kick out of it, captivated by things like the Megalodon and, of course, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. On a more critical level, the whole process was a little rickety. There were two lanes of traffic through the event, but the dinosaurs were all simply put between the lanes. So no matter what lane you were in, there was one side of the car that had to look at the dinosaurs through the opposite side of the car through the entire event. Some of the dinosaur models were in rough shape and the squeaking of some of the moving parts begged the question if these people have heard of WD-40.
4:00 PM — FILM #13: “ON THE COUNT OF THREE”
On paper, ON THE COUNT OF THREE is your conventional dark comedy about a best friend’s suicide pact. However, Jerrod Carmichael, who also debuts as director, and Christopher Abbott elevate the film with remarkable performances.
5:30 PM — FILM #14: “CRYPTOZOO“
CRYPTOZOO is an allegorical adult-animation pleading to be watched on psychedelics. The organic animation style is gratifying, and I applaud the voice casting. Still, some choices, like the overuse of adult content, left an overall bad taste in my mouth.
7:00 PM — FILM #15: “STRAWBERRY MANSION“
The mansion of STRAWBERRY MANSION sets the bar too high for the film to reach. Earning points for originality, flair, and message conveyance, its failure to be more engaging than that house’s image leaves it feeling lesser and unmemorable.
9:00 PM — FILM #16: “PLEASURE”
PLEASURE sees a Swedish transplant moving to Los Angeles and leveling her way up in the porn industry. Uncomfortable at times, Sofia Kappel emerges with a knockout debut performance. Ninja Thyberg’s explicit examination never feels cheap or surface-level.
10:45 PM — FILM #17: “I WAS A SIMPLE MAN”
I WAS A SIMPLE MAN affirms that dementia sucks and that Hawaii is gorgeous. Forgive me for the oversimplification of a lovely and admirable effort, but not even Steve Iwamoto’s convincing performance could evoke from me an emotional response.
12:30AM — FILM #18: “THE PINK CLOUD”
THE PINK CLOUD acts as the perfect time capsule for current quarantine life. An examination into human nature in confined spaces, Renata de Léli and Eduardo Mendonça defy odds and remain attention-grabbing in one apartment for the entire runtime.
2:30AM — DAY FOUR WRAP-UP
Today, I’d say was me making the most of this unique opportunity to view Sundance online. This may never happen again and if, for some reason, I never get to experience again, I want to see and do everything I can through this one.
But it’s not over. Although I return to my regular workweek tomorrow, I will still be fitting in as many films I can. I joked with my girls today that by the end of this, I will have seen more films than hours of sleep I’ve gotten since the start. I wish I’d caught more films on Thursday and Friday, because there’s so many that I won’t get to see. The feeling of missing “Coda” has driven me to try and not missing anything.
Tomorrow, I’ve got “The Sparks Brothers,” “Passing,” and “Eight for Silver” as my must-sees, with “Superior” and “Wild Indian” on the docket if I have the time.
What has been everyone’s favorite so far?