Sundance Recap: Part III

Mental instability, poverty, a disappearance, and a docu-thriller

White Bird in a Blizzard
White Bird in a Blizzard

I am sad to say this is my last Sundance post, but it is filled with plenty of decadent drama.

Infinitely Polar Bear: Based on writer/director Maya Forbes's real-life experiences, Infinitely Polar Bear is about a man named Cam (Mark Ruffalo) who suffers from bipolar disorder and how his wife (Zoe Saldana) and their children deal with it. The family struggles financially because Cam cannot hold a job because of his illness. Maggie ends up getting into Columbia's MBA program and proposes to peruse her dream while Cam takes care of the kids so the clan can finally make good. The film's main focus is Cam's relationship with his kids ( Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide). The film has a cluster of sweet moments and the child stars are great, but I felt the film was light and very restrained on specifics of mental illness.

Skeleton Twins: Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are twins who both decide to end their lives on the same day. Due to a timely twist of fate, neither dies, putting the pair back in each other's lives after a 10-year rift. Having only seen Hader in comedic roles, it was shocking (in the best way possible) to see him play a gay, darker character with a slew of depression issues. Wiig's character is in the same boat, with a marriage that's anything but ideal. Over the course of the movie, the siblings reconnect and continue to struggle with their personal demons. The storyline is routine, but the script is balanced and well-written; Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for U.S. Dramatic film.

Rich Hill: Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Award for Documentary feature, Rich Hill depicts three boys (Andrew, Harley, and Appachey) battling through poverty in Rich Hill, Mo., where the film's directors, Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palmero, grew up. Andrew’s father has a string of odd jobs and has trouble paying the bills, Harley has a blazing temper and lives with his grandma because his mom is in prison, and Appachey lives life with a smoking habit and not much supervision. None of the boys have much guidance and their outlook on the world is harsh – with good reason.

White Bird In A Blizzard: This is the first time I have ever seen a film by Gregg Araki, and the experience was sinfully delightful. Based on the novel of the same name by Laura Kasischke, the story revolves around Kat Connor (Shailene Woodley) and her family, which is at the height of dysfunctionality. Her father, Brock (Christopher Meloni) is a pushover, and her mom Eve (Eva Green) is an alcoholic who hates everything about her life and yearns to escape the role of suburban housewife. Things take a spooky turn when Eve disappears without a trace, sending Kat and her dad into a waking nightmare enhanced with nudity, sex, and mystery. It's a lot to take in in just 91 minutes. White Bird In A Blizzard marks the most adult role Woodley has had to date, and her performance alongside Green is fierce, fiery, and unapologetic.

The Green Prince : Even though this movie is a documentary, I felt like I was watching spine-tingling thriller. The Green Prince tells the tale of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the Palestinian son of a Hamas leader who became a spy for Israeli's Shin Bet. The film is based on Yousef’s book, Son of Hamas. At 17, Mosab was arrested for buying illegal weapons and was in prison in Israel, where Ben Yitzhak, a handler for the service, persuaded him to start working for them as a tipster. Amid all the hysteria, the film has a delicate, softer side when discussing Yousef's move to U.S. and his conversion to Christianity.

Sundance Top Five:

1) Whiplash

2) Life Itself

3) Boyhood

4) Rudderless

5) The One I Love

Welp, that does it!

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Sundance Film Festival, Rich Hill, Infinitely Polar Bear, White Bird In A Blizzard, The Green Prince, The Skeleton Twins, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, poverty, depression, Gregg Araki, Shailene Woodley, Sundance

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