Stories

Best of Sundance 2021

From pandemic-era stories, via portraits of grief, to the serendipitous 1969 trilogy, the Letterboxd crew recaps our favorite films from the first major festival of the year.

Liked reviews

There’s a moment near the middle of The World to Come where Vanessa Kirby’s Tallie, heading home during a raging blizzard after a visit with a woman for whom she clearly has feelings that she can barely comprehend, takes shelter in an abandoned shack that turns out to already be occupied by menacing, shadowed, strange men. She could stay there, safe from the deadly conditions outside but at the whims of these men, or she could venture back outside, into…

I was folding laundry when I started this movie… As it would turn out this is not the type of movie you fold laundry to. If I had truly wanted to get some chores done I perhaps should have turned on another film. Sonic The Hedgehog, maybe. Or the Tomb Raider remake from a couple of years ago. I have yet to see Galaxy Quest but that strikes me a perfectly capable film to have on in the background while…

Mass

Mass

★★★★

Why do I want to know about your son? Because he killed mine.

There's a lot weighing on the hearts and minds of those directly affected by violence. Mass gives us the opportunity to be fly-on-the-wall in a room with the parents of a mass-shooter and the parents of one of the shooter's victims. They're looking to heal.

It's heavy subject matter for sure, but Mass does SO WELL handling this volatile content. It would have been so easy for…

Pleasure

Pleasure

★★★★

It's a shame that this is going to have a difficult time getting a US release*, as it's one of the most thoughtful, sensitive films at the festival. I feel like this isn't being painted in the best light, given the midnight slot, the very limited tickets (even more so than Passing) and how this surely would've turned into a conversation about **walkouts due to X-rated content** in person. I hope people can see this, because there's a lot more…

Oh, God. Oh, Jesus. Oh, Christ. This is hard.

There is a specific type of prejudice that infects folks across the world. A type of self-hatred among colored folks that automatically promotes the notion of white as the ideal. This leads to dubious products such as “skin-lightening” creams having record sales in the modern day despite proving dangerous. Or some black parents favoring their lighter-skinned offspring.

But at one point - before even the noxious societal compromise of JIm Crow…

Sundance 2021 #2

This film has a pitch-black premise for a coming-of-age drama: teen boy finds an abandoned bunker in his yard, knocks his parents and sister out, and traps them in the hole so he can roam free. But it never quite delivers on the disturbing promise of this premise. From a technical perspective, this film is creepily satisfying in its smooth tracking shots and shadowy frames, the camera slithering around to follow John as he haunts his own…

A bleak but accurate example of how beauty and depression are sexualized and abused. Really emotionally intense and there isn't a turn around in the film in terms of a moment of hope or light. I personally really enjoy how the filmmakers didn't try to make fixed statements on childhood fame, depression, and abuse, but brought the viewer into discussion on the specifics of Björn's life and really focused on telling his story.

In sum I would say when choosing…