2021 Sundance Film Festival: Day Four Recap

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2021 Sundance Film Festival Day Four
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

With each passing day, it’s becoming evident that the 2021 Sundance Film Festival is flying by. For day four, I had several highly anticipated films on the slate. Here’s what I saw on day fou of the virtual film festival.

R#J

R#J is a modern-day version of the Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet.

Director Casey Williams took a risk with this film. He approached it from an artistic perspective and put that spin on a pretty typical love story. The film’s cinematography is strikingly beautiful and the utilization of phones is really unique and very cool to see.

Although it was breathtakingly beautiful, Williams’ writing failed to get me emotionally invested in what was transpiring. Eventually, the impressive technical aspects no longer impress. The film is an ambitious attempt of trying to create some magic on our phones.

Prime Time

IMDB: “In 1999 Sebastian locks himself in a TV studio. He has two hostages, a gun, and an important message for the world.

Let me set the scene. It’s New Year’s Eve and a news station is preparing for their news coverage leading into the new year. As the newswoman finishes her segment, a man with a gun takes over the stage. The man is Sebastian and he’s demanding to be put on the air but the station refuses. As we continue to be at a stalemate, the back and forth banter between Sebastian and the negotiators is strong.

Co-writers Jakub Piatek and Lukasz Czapski do a great job building a mystery. We’re left wondering why Sebastian has taken over the news station but, by the third act, it falls apart. When I reached the end, I couldn’t help but wonder what this film could have been.

Marvelous and the Black Hole

IMDB: “A teenage delinquent (Miya Cech) teams up with a surly children’s party magician (Rhea Perlman) to navigate her dysfunctional family and inner demons.

Sammy (Cech) is a little bit of a rebel since her mother’s death. Her actions are progressing and she’s acting out at school and talking back at home. Sammy’s dad warns her that if she doesn’t straight out, he’ll send her to a camp for troubled kids.

That’s when Sammy meets a magician named Margot (Perlman). Sammy needs to use Margot for school. The foundation of this film is built on the relationship between these two and it gives Sammy some semblance of what she was missing following her mother’s death. Perlman and Cech are a match made in heaven onscreen. Their back and forth banter is so special to see.

Compared to other stories in this genre, what writer/director Kate Tsang gets right is the connection between these two characters. She’s able to develop a purpose for their bond, which enriches the story and gives you a reason to root for Sammy and her journey. 

Marvelous and the Black Hole shows that dealing with a loss is challenging but that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Together Together

IMDB: “A 40-year-old man hires a young woman and their relationship challenges their perceptions of love.

Together Together starts with viewers meeting Matt, an awkward app designer who is interviewing Anna about potentially being his surrogate. After a successful interview, he decides she’s the right fit. As the relationship between the two develops, so does our knowledge of the surrogacy process. Nikole Beckwith wrote it in a way that teaches the audience in a way that is soft, warm and full of heart. She made me fall in love with Matt’s journey to fatherhood.

As we get closer to the baby’s arrival, the friendship is tested by high emotions. As a result of this, there are some incredible scenes between Ed Helms and Patti Harrison. The development of the characters and their unique relationship works because of the talent of these two actors.

While I was captivated by the journey, I was also captivated by the beautiful score. Alex Somers composed it and it’s both endearing and full of life.

Nikole Beckwith’s writing and directing are so full of life and joy that you can’t help but walk away from this film with a big smile on your face.

Land

IMDB:“A bereaved woman seeks out a new life, off the grid in Wyoming.”

In short, Land packs an emotional punch as Robin Wright gives a career-best performance. Read my full review of the movie here.

Stay tuned for more from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. You can find all my coverage here and on Twitter.

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