The Alternate Ending crew is at Sundance! Or at least, we’re watching Sundance films from the snug coziness of our couches, where the virtual incarnation of the festival will be taking place from 1/28-2/3. Watch this space (to be updated daily) for a compendium of all our thoughts on all the films we see, as well as a collection of links to reviews, interviews, and video reactions!
(Be sure to check out our Sundance preview podcast and see if we end up loving what we hoped to love)
DAY 4: SUNDAY, 31 JANUARY
Encore screening – El Planeta (Amalia Ulman, USA / Spain)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The attempts at “fun” editing are half-assed and facile, and that certainly robs the film of some of its flippant comic energy, but not all of it. The clean, crisp black and white looks surprisingly great (outside of a night scene with a whole lot of digital noise), and gives the film a slightly romanticised feeling that offsets the flat naturalism of the scenario and characters, giving the film room to be a little more jazzy and loose than it easily could have been. I’m not convinced by the grace notes about life in an age of economic uncertainty (the film gestures at this a lot but it stays pretty much at the surface), and anytime it tries to be about anything beyond the central mother-daughter relationship, it runs into the problem of not having a good idea about how to define side characters as more than bland types; but on the whole it’s a fine example of the kind of festival movie that’s pleasant to watch before forgetting literally everything about it within 24 hours.
10:00 AM MST – At the Ready (Maisie Crow, USA)
Taming the Garden (Salomé Jashi, Switzerland / Germany / Georgia)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Salomé Jashi has a faultless sense for knowing right where to plant her camera for both maximum pictorial beauty and giving us a perfect sense of the relationship between humans and nature, and solely as a gorgeous visual object, this is a lovely, enormously appealing experience. It’s also a fine study of the destructive relationship between humans and nature, and between rich humans and poor humans, as the camera quietly absorbs scene after scene of the wanton, casual ruin of the landscape just to carry off the absurd, perverse mission of schlepping a tree across the whole country of Georgia. It’s never didactic – never even really tells you to be on the alert for an argument at all – but the shocking wrongness of the images speaks for itself.
1:00 PM MST – Hive (Blerta Basholli, Kosovo / Switzerland / Macedonia / Albania)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Completely undistinguished European slice-of-life filmmaking, interesting solely in its unusual choice of subject and emphasis – the economic struggles of a woman trying to keep her missing (and probably deceased) husband’s beekeeping business afloat in the face of male hostility. Which would probably even be enough to put it over, if the film wasn’t trying to cram in as many other things as it could lay hands on, filling the movie’s 83 minutes with scenes that are attempting to flesh out the setting, but just end up adding distracting clutter. It’s hard to get a bead on most of the supporting characters, which makes the protagonist feel like she’s floating in a see of anonymous faces, and the narrative is so purposefully loose and naturalistic that it never feels like the scenes and events need to exist in the same film together. One of those films that shows up in festivals, accrues muted nice reviews, and then disappears from history.
Misha and the Wolves (Sam Hobkinson, UK / Belgium)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The kind of film where even the most cursory amount of Googling – in my case, to confirm the running time – gives away the true story, at which point there’s not a damn thing the movie does for its first hour other than run out the clock, while making it increasingly clear that this is just going to be an insufferably adequate recap of an investigation that was done over a dozen years ago. Even without that, it’s pretty clear where this is headed pretty early on (there would be almost no purpose to telling the story the way it’s being told if it didn’t end up going where it goes), and that leaves one with plenty of time to imagine the much more interesting version of the story that gets through the first hour in 10 minutes and then extends the last 15 minutes into a much longer consideration of why people lie and why people eagerly permit themselves to be lied to. Feels like F for Fake for Dummies, so maybe better just to go watch that.
It has some extreme Three Identical Strangers energy, and I thought that movie was awful, manipulative, and intellectually fradulent, but people liked that, so I imagine people will like this.
4:00 PM MST – The Blazing World (Carlson Young, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: When it’s working, when it’s catastrophically failing, and when it’s just plain odd, it’s giving 100% of itself, 100% of the time. By the 10-minute mark, I was prepared to declare this the very worst thing I’d seen at Sundance, but even in its garish, meanspirited prologue, it’s still demonstrating that Carlson Young has a feverish love of movie-ness, and that just gets stronger when the film pivots into outright fantasy. Not everything is fresh – it’s basically “what if Pan’s Labyrinth and The Fall had a baby?” – but it’s all committed, and on enough of a tight budget that the filmmakers have to do some of it with lo-fi effects and practical work, giving it a kind of adorably clunky, handmade feeling. And it moved from pre-production to release all during the pandemic! Not to everybody’s tastes, obviously, but I can’t think of what Young would have needed to do to make it more perfectly attuned to mine.
Jockey (Clint Bentley, USA)
Rob’s Thoughts: Superb filmmaking and performances round out this standout from Sundance. Love the unheralded story of the jockey community. Be on the lookout for Clifton Collins Jr. at awards podium in 2021.
Land (Robin Wright, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Gentle and quiet, aesthetically subdued in a way that’s a good fit for the mournful protagonist. As a director, Robin Wright doesn’t demonstrate unerringly good instincts (there are some wobbly cuts that appear to be the result of inconsistent blocking; there’s a damned inexplicable deep shot where Wright walks all the way towards the camera and starts to stretch out), but it’s kind of a training-wheels scenario as far as that goes. A lot of the movie is simply “don’t make the Rocky Mountains look ugly and you’re good to go”, and she makes excellent use of herself as an actor, give or take a few lines of dialogue to nobody in particular that nobody would have been able to deliver well. It’s certainly at its best in the first act, full of wordless storytelling and a still appreciation of the landscape; the middle gets a little gummy, but it rallies for an ending that indulges in sentiment without going overboard. Just a nice, solid movie.
Rob’s Thoughts: Land manages to capture a full range of human emotions, including: grief, friendship and ultimately, peace.
It’s hard to believe this is the work of a first time filmmaker given the confidence Ms. Wright has with her creative choices. The patience and intimacy shown with each quiet scene juxtaposed against the vivid, natural backdrop showcase her unique voice.
Her talent behind the camera is only matched by her raw and inspired performance that’s sure to lead to much deserved award season buzz.
7:00 PM MST – Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sono Sion, USA)
It could very well be that this is too much of a good thing, like chowing down on a whole bag of candy – it’s unapologetically pleasurable, but at a certain point, your body starts demanding to know what the fuck you’re doing to it. For me, with this film, that point came during the rally that brings us to the end of… I actually don’t know where the act breaks are, or how many of them the film has.
At any rate, Sion Sono’s English debut is all that I wanted, a gumbo of Japanese Samurai movies, American Westerns, Italian post-apocalypse films, and Nick Cage freak-out comedy, all colored with eye-scorching bright hues. It has an appropriately mythic sense of narrative abstraction, telling the beats of a story about a fallen man saving the innocent without overly worrying itself about the details, and folding this into a story about caricatured Americans in a carucature of Japan redeeming the world from a nuclear disaster. It’s all done in very artificial, ironic notes, but like any good myth it has some deep truths driving it, and a deliriously spectacular surface. As exhausting as it is, I can’t wait to see it again, and I hope like hell that happens on a big screen. (Full review)
DAY 3: SATURDAY, 30 JANUARY
Encore screening – Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Denmark / France / Sweden / Norway)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The story is obviously fascinating and deeply tender, and the way it’s presented as something between a confessional and a late-night heart-to-heart is absolutely perfect. I am, sorry to say, in the camp that feels that the animation put a wall between me and the emotions of the movie rather than facilitating my connection to it. Less because of the presence of animation per se than because the style is a little too generically pleasant and inexpressive (especially since the film has a much more moving and subjectively gripping smudgy charcoal art style right there). It’s a little slow in the beginning, but it sets up the last third so well that it feels like any change would be for the worse.
Encore screening – I Was a Simple Man (Christopher Makoto Yogi, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Often breathtakingly gorgeous at the level of the individual shot; even something as straightforward as a bathroom faucet is caressed by the lighting and camera to seem like a graphically stimulating collection of lines and textures and colors. And that kept me chugging along through a film that I think is a bit too enthusiastic about the idea of slow cinema without having quite cracked the “why” of slow cinema. The Apichatpong Weerasethakul influence is extremely evident, but this hasn’t anything like Uncle Boonmee‘s dreamy visionary quality, and so the blurring of the real and the paranormal feels a little too mannered, and mostly serves to get in the way of the human drama about death as an occasion for reflection and maybe some regret. It’s not a bad human drama, either, though it feels like it’s made out of individual scenes rather than an overall flow. I was leaving myself open to the possibility that the muted reviews were pointing to a weirdly artful movie that I’d respond to for exactly the reasons other people where bouncing off of it, but no, the consensus vibe of “that was pretty… pretty boring! But actually, it is really is gorgeous” just about nails it.
10:00 AM MST – Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (Marilyn Agrelo, USA)
1:00 PM MST – Faya Dayi (Jessica Beshir, Ethiopia / USA / Qatar)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The black and white cinematography is gorgeous but incredibly dark and heavy, and it sucks a lot of the life out of a movie that’s already not great at pacing and structure. What we have here is a film that floats from moment to moment, generally playing with some ideas for how to thematically stitch all the events it witnesses into a single declaration of a place and a culture, but it hasn’t quite done the actual work of stitching. And so it feels less like a movie than a series of field notes for a movie to be crafted later. The casual quality of the individual conversations (some of which are plainly re-staged for the purpose of continuity editing, but the whole film is so aggressively aestheticised that it’s not really even pretending to be a work of flat, direct documentary) is appealing on the individual level, and at their best, these moments do seem to give us some way in to understand the hard lives and spiritual ecstasies that are depicted in the film, but not in a way that persists beyond the end of a given shot. I feel like, knowing the film’s very odd rhythms, I might connect with it a little bit more on a second viewing, and discern the shape to all of this, but I can just as easily imagine growing even more frustrated with its glacial pace and gloomy look now that I know nothing is there to relieve them.
Try Harder! (Debbie Lum, USA)
Brennan’s Rating: (Full review)
Rob’s Thoughts: It may be totally unfair for me to rate Try Harder! since I identified so much with the experience related to the college admission process. Nevertheless, I think regardless of your own personal experience however, I think we can all find empathy for the students followed thanks to director Debbie Lum’s fantastic storytelling ability.
Wild Indian (Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The Malickian stateliness of the deatched prologue (this is the kind of film that has to start three separate times before it can actually get going) had me convinced I was in for a genuine masterpiece. And it created a mood that persisted across all of the first act, a poetic, sleepy flashback to 1984 as a kind of nostalgic dream state. Even as the film subjected me to exceptionally bad child acting, I was rooting for it.
Then it just utterly and irrevocably collapses, pretty much at exactly the moment Jesse Eisenberg randomly warps into the movie, though it’s not (only) his fault. Bad enough that the style suddenly evaporates – and that Malick mood would have been a bad fit for this story, sure, but then why introduce it at all – but the story becomes an inert, by-the-numbers sketch of past crimes shoving their way into the present, built entirely on a framework of incredibly easy ironies (the bad kid grew up to become a respectable businessman, and the good kid grew up to become a recidivist criminal and addict, Jiminy Christmas!) and limited narrative momentum. Its attempts at moral complexity are undone by the cartoonish sociopathy of the businessman character (all respect in the world to Michael Greyeyes, who is certainly trying to make something of this), and the film’s odd reticence to actually put its characters in direct conflict.
Rob’s Thoughts: First let me say, the you director behind this film is someone to watch out for. Such a talented eye.
For the first 15-20 minutes of the I was giddy thinking it was easily going to be a 4.5 star movie. No sooner did I think that did we flash forward to modern day where the film looses a lot of its style. It’s also made worse by casting Eisenberg and Bosworth. While their performances are fine, they are wildly distracting.
Still worth a watch as it does something unique in centering the film around a very unlikeable character and it almost works.
4:00 PM MST – Passing (Rebecca Hall, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Maybe it’s just about where I had my expectations set – for a bloodless Serious Drama About Social Issues™ – but I was not at all prepared for how damn bizarre this would turn out to be. The full-frame black and white is one thing (one very ugly, digital thing, as it so happens), but Rebecca Hall directs Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga (the latter of whom has been noticeably overlit in her early scenes, to suitably disconcerting effect) to play their 1920s characters in a rigidly formalised way, arch and artificial and almost more like they’re chanting dialogue than reciting it. I would call it “theatrical” if I could name a single English theater acting tradition that involved the kind of kabuki-like detachment from anything remotely akin to naturalism. Add in the inordinately strange editing rhythm, which is full of unstated ellipses, some of which aren’t even clear until the next ellipsis, and the unerring tendency towards lots of headroom in the boxy frame, and I honestly don’t know if what we’re looking at is amateurishness from a lost first-time director, or a striking theoretical attempt to get at the cadences of a novel without squashing it down into cinema, or if it even matters which of those it is. I don’t know if it’s good, and I don’t know what in God’s name it has to do with ’20s racism (obviously, yes, “performing identity”, but you can get at that without being so weirdly alien as this), but I know that this caught me way off guard, and I’ll certainly take that when I can get it.
7:00 PM MST – Eight for Silver (Sean Ellis, USA / France)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The period trappings are unabashedly handsome, and they bring with them a certain prestige movie seriousness of intent that works well to counterbalance the inherent silliness of the material. This is a by-the-books werewolf movie that’s stately and consequential and historically grounded, in other words. But, it’s still a by-the-books werewolf movie, and there comes a point where too much po-faced gravity ends up feeling a bit more pretentious than is good for the material (not to mention that this comes in at a none-too-tight 113 minutes). I mean, this is still a movie that uses grey-corpse-screaming-at-me-nope-I-was-dreaming jump scares (in fact, it uses that particular jump scare three times). To be sure, parts of it work superbly (the horrifying silhouette of a particularly grisly scarecrow, flashes of werewolf visible around laundry whipping in the wind), and almost all of it works at least passably. But it could certainly do with letting in a little air in, and not pretending that has Something To Say about imperial arrogance.
Also, major points added for having a werewolf design that doesn’t look like the usual ape/terrier model; points then removed for having it look like a boiled hyena from a PS3 game.
Rob’s Thoughts: Beautiful cinematography, solid performances, fun mythology and elevated gore…oh and werewolves. Who doesn’t like werewolves?!
Searchers (Pacho Velez, USA)
Brennan’s Rating: > (Full review)
10:00 PM MST – Coming Home in the Dark (James Ashcroft, New Zealand)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Lord save us from vicious, awful grind house darkness that couches itself in Themes – this is basically about a guy getting shot in the kneecaps because he fell victim to the Bystander Effect, there’s no reason to gussy it up with a feature-length philosophical debate about guilt and moral responsibility. I can easily imagine a New Zealand version of Wolf Creek using this same launching pad, two killers tormenting a family just because they could; the moment it becomes clear that the dad has A Secret, I could feel my interest ratchet down by a full half-star. And that’s not even looking at the way it all kind of unravels in the last act, with a couple might big contrivances and one glaring loose thread.
All that being said, James Ashcroft has the goods – this is a deeply distressing thriller, and you don’t get that kind of distress from just any old schmuck with a camera and a soft-spoken psychopath to put in front of it. The film is a little guilty of accelerating so fast that it has nothing left to build up to (the first shocking act of brutality pretty much trumps every other shocking act of brutality for the rest of the film, and arguably makes the whole thing just one long denouement), but the looming darkness, the wide angle shots inside a car, and the increasing feeling of fatigue all build up to a pretty potent, draining nihilistic thriller. I won’t be returning to this anytime soon, or at all, but I’ll surely be watching for whatever Ashcroft does next.
DAY 2: FRIDAY, 29 JANUARY
10:00 AM MST – Homeroom (Peter Nicks, USA)
Rob’s Thoughts: Beautifully made, but a bit unfocused in the beginning, which made it hard to follow the message it was going for.
President (Camilla Nielsson, Denmark/USA/Norway)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Lacks the focus and power of Nielsson’s Democrats, to which this is effectively a sequel; there’s a sense of the documentary racing to catch up to real life, and while this gives it a great “you are there” feeling throughout its 130-minute running time, it might not have been such a sin if the opening hour had been trimmed down to a summary, rather than a beat-by-beat recap of events that are ultimately not really what the film is focused on. Also, this feels a bit more sympathetic to its subjects than the godlike POV of the last movie, at a little cost to its objective value. Still, “here’s a list of why this isn’t as great as one of the best documentaries of the last ten years” it the height of nitpicking, and the film has the great fortune to end on its most illuminating material, a real-time examination of how democracy can be manipulated right out in the open. Both as a narrative and as a collection of fly on the wall footage, this is terrifically exciting stuff. (Full review)
1:00 PM MST – Cryptozoo (Dash Shaw, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: I slammed into the art style like a brick wall: when the drawings are this exhaustively detailed (much like My Entire High School…, the idea seems to be “what does a bored kid sketch in math class?”, only this time the bored kid is a Dungeons & Dragons fan who’s going to be an art major in the fall), the trade-off is that there simply cannot be as much fluid movement. The paradox is that when the style is this detailed, you need fluidity or the whole thing just ends up feeling gruesomely zombie-like. This was my experience, anyway. And it doesn’t help matters that far, far too much of the action can be summed up as “naked people covered in blood saying ‘fuck'”. Like nothing else out there, but I think I take that as a good thing, honestly.
4:00 PM MST – John and the Hole (Pascual Sisto, USA)
Rob’s Thoughts: I kept waiting for something to happen or there to be more to it that never came. There’s also a secondary story that feels out of place.
The Pink Cloud (Iuli Gerbase, Brazil)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Opens with a scene so incredibly perfect at striking an ominous sci-fi tone that it’s no surprise that the rest of the film can’t match it; but it’s also so far away from anything else we get sonically, visually, or narratively that it hurts the film even more than simply setting the bar too high.
The film is basically a long-form metaphor fleshing out the old saw “marry in haste, repent at leisure”, but that’s not enough to support an entire feature, especially since it never becomes more than a metaphor – the fact of the global quarantine just never really has weight, with in-universe years passing by, and yet there’s never any sense of the world or the characters changing; pretty deep into the film, we’re seeing people play lockdown games that make it feel like it’s only been a week or two. The gorgeous rose tint to the whole movie, and the sturdy performances, keep this working well enough as a methodically artful domestic drama, but it lacks any real insights that aren’t pretty obvious just from the concept. I would certainly not mind getting more from this director, though; the craftsmanship and performance are strong, even if the script they’re supporting is just kind of whatever.
7:00 PM MST – In the Earth (Ben Wheatley, UK)
Tim’s Capsule Review: Easily Wheatley’s best film since A Field in England, to which this feels in some ways like a modern-day sequel (there’s also some Kill List in it, I am ecstatic to report), and I’d probably nudge it just a hair above that one. It’s imperfect at best, especially around its very active, in-your-face decision to make the COVID pandemic a very specific plot point in the first act that simply evaporates into nothingness thereafter; but once it finds its groove and starts to let us know what kind of film it specifically plans to be, it’s quite a fantastic ride, shaking off all the accretions of the director’s recent bigger-budget work to get down to the essentials of some spooky woods, some top-notch lighting (I am a huge fan of the already-divisive strobe lighting), and Hayley Squires and Reece Shearsmith are fantastic at crafting two very different forms of visionary madness from the sheer oppressive richness of the natural world. A rare horror movie that just keeps getting better and more terrifying as it goes further along and we learn more. (Full review)
10:00 PM MST – Knocking (Frida Kempff, Sweden)
Tim’s Capsule Review: The extreme camera angles (including several strapped to the lead actor’s chest, so her head appears stable while the rest of the world moves) are bracing and dynamic, except when they’re gaudy and distracting. So they end up with a middle-of-the-road score as a mathematical balance. Everything else ends up with a middle-of-the-road score on account of being so damn middle-of-the-road. The whole “something fishy is going on, only the one person who sees it can’t trust her own sense of reality” gambit is hardly as new as this film seems to think it is (indeed, this is already the second time I’ve seen that plot point crop up in a midnight movie at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. And this sure as hell is no Censor), but it’s executed tolerably well. The ashen-faced realism of the reflexive European art house style this leans out doesn’t really help give it that Hitchcockian boost it wants, either (director Frida Kempff is a documentarian by trade, and you see a lot of that in her work here – not in a good way). But there’s something in the sound mix, which the narrative foregrounds, that gives this some good jolts of tension, anyway. If I am reading the implication of the last ten seconds correctly, and their application to the film’s alleged themes, it would have been much better not to bury any trace of those themes or that plot development into the last ten fucking seconds.
Mother Schmuckers (Lenny Guit & Harpo Guit, Belgium)
DAY 1: THURSDAY, 28 JANUARY
6:00 PM MST – CODA (Siân Heder, USA)
Tim’s Capsule Review: There are at least three interrelated films here: the story of a teen girl chafing against the small-town life and family business that are keeping her dreams of becoming an artist choked down, the frustrations of being a hearing child of deaf adults (or CODA) who is unfairly thrust into role of being the bridge between her family and the hearing world, and a rabble-rousing message movie about, um, the monopolistic control of wholesale fish prices. As the last of these perhaps suggests, that’s a lot of material to cover, and the film doesn’t cover it all equally well, leading to a lot of abandoned plot streamers by the end. Also, what does get covered is a fever bog of clichés, and the gimmick of presenting them with a deaf family (and I’m sorry to say it definitely does feel like a gimmick, especially when the dad turns out to enjoy crude jokes and swearing, and that is the bulk of his personality) doesn’t really freshen things up nearly enough for this to feel like anything but Cute Indie boilerplate, from its gags to its musty old music cues to its intensely predictible dramatic arc. Deaf actors Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur are terrific as the charmingly caricatured parents, but it’s not their story, but a generic teen drama, and there are too many random tendrils of said drama for comfort. (Full review)
Carrie & Rob’s video reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-4UAHpF4M
Rob’s Thoughts: Emilia Jones is a breath of fresh air as the lead in this heartwarming coming of age story. Writer / Director Sîan Heder does it again shining a light on an underrepresented family unit thorough wonderful storytelling filled with heart and humor. How about Emilia’s singing?! Wow!
8:00 PM MST – One for the Road (Nattawut Poonpiriya, China/Hong Kong/Thailand)
Tim’s Capsule Review: This story about two old friends going on a road trip to help one of them tie up loose ends before dying of cancer definitely seems like a movie that sorts its viewers into camps: either it just isn’t gelling for you until its major plot pivot around the 3/5 mark and suddenly it all makes sense and finds it footing and there starts to be a purpose to all of the gauzy, achingly romantic lighting and fragmentary, fuzzy cutting. Or it has rich poppy energy and a light romantic touch up until it suddenly becomes heavy and goes for schmaltzy emotions that it has done nothing to earn. I’m in the first camp; I was a little irritated by the repetitive structure and a lot irritated by how shamelessly the film is allowing its musical choices (which are frankly rather strange – Cat Stevens? In a Thai film from the 2020s?) to do all of the emotional work and even some of the storytelling. But the introduction of bitterness and mortified regret as the plot develops do a lot to justify and explain what the film has been up to all along, especially regarding its wildly indulgent and extremely long flashbacks to the protagonists’ untroubled younger days. There’s no denying that it’s all very tacky with sentiment, and the aesthetic is a little too self-consciously dreamy in its “produced by Wong Kar-Wai” ethereal qualities, but I felt reasonably well-served, if never particularly dazzled.
10:00 PM MST – Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond, UK)
Tim’s Capsule Review: A clever tribute to the Video Nasties era, not so much in its style (which isn’t quite landing on “giallo pastiche”, though I think that’s what it’s going for), and definitely not in its tone, which is artfully opaque and nowhere even vaguely near “exploitation”. But beyond the explicit matter of its plot – this is a movie about the people who decided what actually made something Nasty, and the toll of watching so many gross movies on the spirit of someone with violent trauma in her past – this gets at the way that needing to control and limit art is at least as much about the hang-ups of the person doing the controlling as it is about any actual moral principle. Not that the protagonist is an authoritarian prude, but the deeper we get into the movie, the clearer it gets that censoring movies is an extension of her desire to censor her own memories. This is, in fact, almost explicitly stated by a character, but given how defiantly opaque the last part of the film is, I’ll spot it some stilted expository dialogue. Sags in the middle, when it becomes a non-investigation of an non-mystery, but it rallies splendidly for a florid, psychologically disordered climax that uses aspect ratios and tape noise as our main cues for whatever the hell is going on inside the character’s head. Overall, it Peter Stricklands almost as well as Peter Strickland does. (Full review)