What Ever Happened to Baby Ben?

Wyatt Garfield/Sundance Institute

Resurrection (2022)

At first glance, “Resurrection” looks to be a thriller about a woman confronting the reappearance of her former abuser. The film calls her sanity into question in a misogynistic manner, then boasts a conceited genre-shifting climax that is more noxious than clever. Following “Here Before,” “Encounter,” “False Positive” et al., this gaslighting-as-narrative-device trope is now a very troublesome trend.

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Doing the Right Thing

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Emergency (2022)

“Emergency” is one of those one-crazy-night movies (“Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Superbad,” “Dazed and Confused” et al.), about two college kids attempting to make history as the first Black students ever to complete a tour of every Greek party on campus in one evening – but the plan derails with their discovery of an unknown white girl passed out in their living room. They try to do the right thing and get her help, mindful that they are risking their lives because of the optics – strangers presume their guilt in this scenario based on skin color. Indeed, this well-trodden trope takes on a sense of somberness and urgency in the age of Black Lives Matter.

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I'm Like a Bird

IFC Midnight

Hatching (2022)

“Hatching” functions like the hybrid of a dark fairy tale and an adolescent horror. It’s utterly implausible, yet it isn’t explicitly sci-fi or supernatural. It falls into the body horror subgenre somewhat, but it’s more gross than it is scary.

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Scenes From a Marriage

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Lucy and Desi (2022)

Those vexed by the revisionist history in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” may be looking forward to Amy Poehler’s documentary “Lucy and Desi” – both films focusing on the off-screen relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, stars of the storied 1950s CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy,” and released three months apart by Amazon Studios/Prime Video. The good: “Lucy and Desi” is built around Ball and Arnaz’s own words culled from cassette tapes in the private collection of their daughter, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill. The bad: Her involvement does kind of place the documentary’s objectivity in doubt. One can’t shake the feeling that she’s pushing her own narrative about her parents.

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Study Hell

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Master (2022)

The opening scene in “Master” crosscuts between an older Black woman and a younger Black woman both moving into a residence hall. The reason for the juxtaposition is not readily apparent. Is the older one experiencing déjà vu as she moves in? Are there parallels to be gleaned from this montage?

It’s not revealed until a bit later that the younger woman isn’t in a flashback and that their moves are in fact contemporaneous. Professor Gail Bishop (Regina Hall) is the first Black woman to assume the position of master at the Belleville House on the Ancaster College campus, where Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee) is the lone Black incoming freshman. What ensues is akin to a supercut compilation of Microaggression’s Greatest Hits.

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At Your Own Yellow Peril

Benjamin Loeb/A24

After Yang (2022)

Asians are often derided as robotic; in “After Yang,” the titular Asian is literally a robot. Jake (Colin Farrell), Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) form the performatively picture-perfect interracial family, and Yang (Justin H. Min) is part of that picture, too, albeit it enters slightly later, both literally and figuratively, during the film’s opening sequence.

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Roast in Translation

Eric Lin/Sundance Institute

blood (2022)

Essentially “Lost in Translation” with the sads and more interactions with the locals, “blood” takes place in Japan, the seeming destination of choice for lonely whites in search of je ne sais quoi. Newly widowed photographer (bien sur, what else could she possibly be?) Chloe (Carla Juri) arrives in the Land of the Rising Sun, which she previously visited with now-deceased husband, Peter (Gustaf Skarsgärd). She is apparently there taking pictures of the Japanese doing Japanese things, and she greets everyone and everything with wide-eyed wonder and amazement like Nicole Kidman shilling for AMC Theatres.

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Proof of the Pudding


Sundance Institute

Bill Cosby was a bona fide ’80s cultural icon. In his documentary series “We Need to Talk About Cosby,” W. Kamau Bell acknowledges Mr. Cosby’s influence on his initially choosing a career in comedy – the same inspiration that spurred a generation of Black comedians. Of course, the urgency to discuss Mr. Cosby now stems from the fact that he’s better known over the past decade for being a serial rapist.

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Mise en scène de crime

Courtesy photo

Be Somebody (2021)

“Be Somebody” exudes the vibes of a Chinese knockoff “Knives Out” because of its lavish baroque set décor, but it quickly quashes any comparison with that whodunit by readily revealing who did it.

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A Sticky Wicket

Courtesy photo

83 (2021)

It’s no secret that jingoism plays as big a role in Bollywood as do extravagant musical numbers. Considering how often India is underestimated despite the rest of the world benefitting from its massive talent drain, it is more than entitled to toot its own horn. The film “83” recounts a specific moment of great national pride in India’s history – the Prudential Cup ’83 – when its underdog cricket team beat the odds and rivals from seven countries and became champion of the world.

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