The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Dir. Desiree Akhavan)
Based on the book of the same name by Emily Danforth, in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, we follow protagonist Cameron (Chloe Moretz) as she is sent to ‘God’s Promise’, a ‘pray the gay away’ type of conversion-therapy centre. Whilst there she meets Adam (Forrest Goodluck) and Jane (Sasha Lane) and finds solace in knowing that almost everyone else forced there is against the system they’ve been thrown into.
Akhavan’s previous feature, Appropriate Behaviour, saw her writing/directorial debut and was a well-received Sundance premiere, so all eyes are on what she does next. However, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community herself, it seems the heavy and delicate content of The Miseducation of Cameron Post is in good hands.
I’m excited to see a relevant coming of age film that has the confidence to tackle the traumatic idea of gay-conversion facilities which, despite the film itself being set in 1993, do unfortunately still exist in some parts of the world and are still legal in 41 states.
I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Sasha Lane, as she gave one of my favourite performances in recent years in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey. –MT
Colette (Dir. Wash Westmoreland)
A timely release from Still Alice director, Wash Westmoreland; Colette sees a fiercely relevant tale come to light. Everyone’s favourite period-drama darling, Keira Knightley, portrays 1900s French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, most well-known for penning the original text which formed the basis of famed film/musical Gigi.
In Colette, we learn that her husband Willy (Dominic West) originally claimed ownership of her ‘Claudine’ novels, and through her own discovering of her identity, their marriage begins to fall apart.
I cannot wait to be transported to 1900s France and see some of, what I’m sure will be, stunning costume and production design. It also seems that the film fits nicely with the current Time’s Up movement, what with a young woman’s creative voice being lost or even drowned by her husband. I hope Westmoreland will handle it as masterfully as I hope. –MT
I Think We’re Alone Now (dir. Reed Morano)
Reed Morano first began to gain traction after directing the first few episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale; which was arguably the biggest and most powerful television shows of the year. Following on from the critical success of The Handmaid’s Tale, which gained her an Emmy for outstanding direction, Morano has decided to tackle a post-apocalyptic world with I Think We’re Alone Now; the kind of sci-fi setting that is not dissimilar from the Republic of Gilead found in The Handmaid’s Tale. According to reviews at Sundance, I Think We’re Alone Now is a daring piece on the relationship between seclusion and companionship, in which Peter Dinklage appears content in a world alone, until a headstrong Elle Fanning turns up to show that he is not, in fact, the last of the human race. It is a fascinating concept for a film and, when in the hands of a talent like Morano, who has previously conveyed a knack for building dystopian worlds, it could turn out to be one of the most interesting releases of 2018. It won the U.S Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the festival, Fanning and Dinklage have both repeatedly proven themselves to be capable of wonderful performances, and with Morano’s ability as a cinematographer as well as a director, it is sure to look fantastic. What isn’t to look forward to? –HR
Damsel (dir. the Zellner Brothers)
The title of this zany Western may imply that a woman will be in distress but, if the reviews are anything to go by, then it is quite the opposite. Many critics have claimed that Mia Wasikowska’s Penelope, the titular damsel, is far from a helpless object of male affection and, rather, is a fiery force to be reckoned with; one that certainly does not require the aid of Robert Pattinson’s supposedly well-meaning Samuel. Wasikowska and Pattinson are two of the most exciting actors around right now and both have continuously chosen unusual roles that separate them from the mainstream, and which often emphasise their capabilities as independent talents. Damsel looks to be one of 2018’s most original films, and though it may not be to everyone’s tastes, it will certainly appeal to those, like myself, that relished Pattinson’s performance in Good Time and Wasikowska’s in Stoker. I cannot wait to see Wasikowska shine in a role that refuses to submit to men and to witness a comedic subversion of the traditionally serious, hyper-masculine Western. Damsel has unexpectedly ended up becoming one of the films that I am most looking forward to this year and is one that I cannot wait to return to upon reviewing in the future. –HR
Lizzie (dir. Craig William Macneill)
The infamous Borden murders from the 1800’s have been the basis for many stories, they have been recreated and theorized in countless ways, but this year’s Lizzie finally offers a fresh take on the old tale. In the form of a psychological thriller and gothic romance morphed into one, which suggests that Lizzie might have killed her own family (played by the fabulous Chloe Sevigny), with the help of her house maid and possible lover, Bridget (played by Kristen Stewart).
I love true stories, biopics, and films that deal with dark material, so this is just the perfect package for me. From all of the interviews the cast already gave, it is obvious that all of them, and mainly Chloe, care very deeply about this story and will give it justice and the respect that it deserves. –EJ
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot (dir. Gus Van Sant)
The first thing that peaked my interest in this project was its stellar cast. Helmed by Joaquin Phoenix, with supporting actors Rooney Mara (!!) and Jack Black, this is another true story that would be a huge mistake to miss from this year’s festival circuit.
Taking a huge left turn from Lizzie, Gus Van Sant’s new film is based on John Callahan’s memoir, who was an alcoholic from the age of thriteen, and at twenty one years old, becomes a quadriplegic after a terrible car accident.
The film showcases the cartoonist’s obvious struggles, while remaining hopeful through showing his relationship with his AA group. This one definitely is going to be a tear jerker, and honestly, I can’t wait. –EJ
Wildlife (dir. Paul Dano)
Paul Dano has been quietly plodding along as an indie powerhouse and arguably one of the finest actors of his generation, he’s now taken time out to direct his first feature, Wildlife, based on the novel by Richard Ford. Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal play a married couple in the 1960s (if that isn’t enough to make you want to see this movie, I think you’re probably a lost cause) who move to Montana and their marriage falls apart when Carey’s character falls in love with someone else.
The story is told through the eyes of their young son, who gets to view the marriage unravel through his own eyes. I’m personally really interested to see how Mulligan’s character plays (or doesn’t play) along with 1950s/60s housewife tropes and how this plays out against Gyllenhaal’s drunk father role.
Whilst the story itself might sound quite simple, I’m incredibly invested in seeing how Dano fares as a director, after having worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, Richard Linklater, Ang Lee, Denis Villeneuve and acted alongside greats like Daniel Day Lewis and Robert DeNiro, Chiwitel Ejiofor and Viola Davis, if there’s ever been someone to receive a decent amount of lessons in his field, it’s Dano. –CL
Sorry to Bother You (dir. Boots Riley)
Starring 3 of 2017’s most darling actors; Tessa Thompson fresh off Thor: Ragnarok, Lakieth Stanfield from Get Out and Armie Hammer riding off the success of Call Me By Your Name, Boots Riley’s directorial debut Sorry to Bother You seems like a ballsy and unique blend of comedy and sci-fi. Lakeith plays the lead role as Cassius Green, a telemarketer who discovers a secret held by the company he works for.
The film honestly, sounds completely insane, with orgy scenes, political activism, Terry Crews playing Cassius’ uncle, commentary on capitalism and David Cross portraying the ‘White Voice’ Cassius is told to use whilst on the phone to potential clients. It sounds fun and diverse and like its trying something new, which is everything you want from a Sundance movie. –CL