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Sundance Review || "Last Days in the Desert"

Director Rodrigo García claimed two themes interested him most in his articulation of Jesus' untold 40 day fast in the desert. The first: the primordial idea of how a boy becomes a man, a step that Garcia contents happens "with or without his father's help of permission." The second theme surrounds the notion of creationism, both in a spiritual and storyteller's sense. García himself underwent a creation process in the construction of Last Days in the Desert, weaving a fictitious narrative out of a notable absence in Jesus' origin story - only mentioned in passing in the Gospels but entirely bereft of detail. This absence of a story drew García to the project, offering him an entrance into a narrative that felt to him inspired, fresh and wildly important.  

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Sundance Review || "People, Places, Things"


Having retired from his role as the Hiphopopotamus, Jemaine Clement frequents our living rooms and theaters all too infrequently. His 2014 cameo in Muppets Most Wanted didn't nearly suffice to fill our favorite Kiwi quotient and we've yet to take in his lauded vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows (though we eagerly anticipated its eventual stateside arrival.) Nor can we really kid ourselves into believing that Clement's existence beyond Flight of the Concords has been far-reaching - though his role as Boris the Animal was an easy highlight of Men in Black 3 and tapped into his unrealized Hollywood potential. So it's with a heaving sigh of relief that we can announce that Clement has finally been given a role worthy of his gawky stature in the delightful, funny and tender People, Places, Things.

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Sundance Review || "The Witch"

What do 1630, a silver cup, Christian fervor and a goat named Black Phillip have in common? The Witch. Unholy goodness through and through, Robert Egger's feature film debut is a horror masquerading as a costume drama that's as beady, black and misshapen as the center of a goat's eye. Beneath the dirt-stained, leather-bound waistcoats, the perfumed, toity language of the New World, the white bonnets and constrictive girdles, The Witch has a vicious, illict and suspicious center and though admittedly scaled back on "scares" is deeply atmospheric, deeply disturbing and deeply great.

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Sundance Review || "Z for Zachariah"

There are so many pivot points in Z for Zachariah that it becomes hard to nail down exactly what director Craig Zobel intended for it. At one point, it seems decidedly about gender politics, at another about race relations, and eventually it boiled down to themes of suspicion, greed and jealousy. Spliced with a domineering amount of ambiguity. All this from a cast of three. To call it thematically rich may be overly generous - maybe thematically crowded would hit the nail on the head more - but nonetheless, it strives for something thoughtful and great, even when it comes up just short.

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