The films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival – soon to be on a screen near you?

Censor: Censor reminded me a lot of the Swedish film Evil Ed, and that’s not a bad thing. While it may lean a bit too hard into the ambiguous nature, the lead performance by Niamh Algar makes you buy into the unnerving feeling emanating from the world created by the story. Of the films I previewed at the festival, Censor is one of the most impressive in terms of its technique, especially with the production design and editing. The film almost perfectly recaptures the style and look of old 70s and 80s horror films that it tributes. It could have gone a bit further with how it handles the feelings of guilt and the line between fiction and reality, but those shortcomings don’t in any way ruin the film for me.

On The Count Of Three: This film could have easily gone sideways with such a tricky subject matter. Fortunately, Jerrod Carmichael, one of the festival’s major actor-to-director debuts, handles it masterfully. He treats the subject of mental illness and depression with the care they deserve while also bolstering the script’s clever usage of dark comedy. Carmichael and his co-star Christopher Abbott show us believable performances and demonstrate what truly great chemistry can do for a film. On The Count of Three all comes together for a sincere and brutally honest story that works.

Mass: For nearly two hours, director Fran Kranz makes a conversation between two couples feel more intense than most action movies. The lead actors of Mass (Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Downd and Reed Birney) demand your attention throughout the film by conveying uncomfortable feelings and grief in ways that make you feel as if you are part of the group. Kranz continues to reel us in by showing off his behind the camera talents, bringing you in and giving you your own seat at the table. This film keeps a steady pace, and the writing has some truly devastating dialogue. Mass is a wonderful example of a one-location set film using all of its limits to their fullest potential.

The Sparks Brothers: If you’re a fan of both Sparks and Edgar Wright, you’ll more than likely enjoy this latest collaboration, The Sparks Brothers. Creating a story that is far more entertaining to watch than your usual talking heads documentary, the duo’s stories are likable, and their creative process keeps you entranced throughout the film. If there is one issue, it’s that the documentary doesn’t have much in terms of conflict. The Sparks Brothers is a mellow and overall good film for newcomers or longtime fans.

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