Sundance London 2019
May 30, 2019
It is that time of the year when London turns back to American Indie films. Seven years after Sundance London first edition, Festival Director John Cooper continues to ask Londoners to "take a chance on American Indie films".
The festival is a small version of its Utah edition, that runs every year in January. The selection of the films does not necessarily come from the ones that won the awards. The Sundance Festival senior programmer, David Courier, together with Cooper, Director of Programming Kim Yutani and the Director of Programming and Acquisitions for Picturehouse Clare Binns choose the stories they think are more compelling to Londoners.
Sundance London 2019 continues to challenge our view of the society we live in by promoting thought-provoking films. And not only. The Sundance Institute is now conscious that very few people have access to the festival itself. They created the Collab, an online platform where creators can learn, share and connect. You can join for free here:
Amayzing Movies have seen them all and we picked up the creme de la creme for you!
The Brink (Alison Klayman, 2018) Y
Were you ever curious about who was the mind behind Donald Trump’s Presidency election? Be no more. Documentarist Alison Klayman follows Steve Bannon, who left his post as Trump’s White House chief strategist to create a coalition of far-right leaders in Europe. We can definitely conclude with astonishment that the recent European Parliament election was somewhat influenced by what Klayman captures on her camera.
Bannon is a former Harvard Business School student. But more important, he’s a post-modern Macchiavelli. Paraphrasing the Italian diplomat, very soon Alison understood that “the first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him”. By entering the conference rooms where Bannon tries to convince Nigel Farage (UK), Marine Le Pen (France), Matteo Salvini (Italy). Viktor Orban (Hungary), Mischaël Modrikamen (Belgium), the audience catches the moments in which Bannon’s oratory becomes flat. All that’s solid melts into air.
The Brink is a terrifying wake-up call. It goes down to the stomach and up to the head as quick as a Red Bull, one of Bannon’s favourite drinks.
Showtimes at Picturehouse Central: Sat. 1 at 12:30, Sun 2 at 16:00.
The Last Tree
May 31, 2019
The Last Tree (Shola Amoo, 2018) Y
The Last Tree is Picturehouse bet as a distributor house this year. From the 112 feature-length films showcased at Sundance Festival in January, Amoo’s second picture was probably chosen because it shows British people as we rarely see represented. (This is not a period drama.)
Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage, enjoys a happy childhood in Lincolnshire, where he is raised by a foster mother Mary. His friends are White. But soon he will have to adapt, as his mother comes back to London for him. They move to a tiny flat in South London, a Black and dangerous neighbourhood. His mother -- talented Gbemisola Ikumelo -- struggles with parenting. As a single mother, she doesn’t know how to impose authority rather than inflicting him aggression.
Storytelling is compelling and clever, emphasizing Femi’s coming out, his hesitations and questions on how a Black teenager must behave. Clearly he doesn’t fit in. His musical taste is nothing but expected from his race -- the soundtrack includes the super Whites The Cure. And he also is unsure if he should dedicate his time to study hard or develop delinquent habits along with his comrades.
Amoo counts with the help of his DOP, who explores colours and camera moves to create meaningful and rich layers. The Last Tree resonates with Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) in aspects such as representation, plasticity and identity.
A must see.
Showtimes at Picturehouse Central: Sat. 1 at 18:00, Sun 2 at 12:00.
May 31, 2019
Corporate Animals (Patrick Brice, 2019)
The Midnight programme at Sundance can be summarised as “anything goes”. From horror and comedy to works that defy classification, these films tend to surprise expectations and present creative twists. Corporate Animals is under this category.
Lucy (Demi Moore) is the egotistical, megalomaniac CEO of Incredible Edibles, America’s premier provider of edible cutlery. In her infinite wisdom, Lucy leads her staff, including her long-suffering assistants, Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams), on a corporate team-building caving weekend in New Mexico. But what they cannot predict is that they are about to be trapped underground, which leads to extreme explosions of uncivilised behaviour.
Dialogues are smart, rhythm is speedy, acting is funny. Corporate Animals conquers by its ability to compare the notion of success in business and a healthy and sporting lifestyle. The ultimate goal is to be fit.
But the film fails at some points due to excess of artificiality.
Nevertheless, by staging betrayals and manipulations, the characters show the essence of human condition.
Showtimes at Picturehouse Central: Sat. 1 at 22:00 and 22:15, Sun 2 at 13:00 and 13:20.