Sundance 2014: Highs and Not so highs

Sundance 2014: Highs and Not so highs

A funny, perhaps Freudian slip occurred while I was putting together a list of my favorite and not so favorite films from Sundance 2014. I wrote the title “Love is Violence,” an accidental amalgam of two of the best (and very different) movies from the festival, Ira Sachs’ lovely and intimate multi-generational drama “Love is Strange” and Goran Olsson’s “Concerning Violence,” a found-footage stunner that focuses on the colonization of Africa and the process of decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s. ‘Love is violence’–now that’s a movie I’d like to see. 

At last count, I saw about 20 movies from Sundance 2014, and I’d say only about five were really terrific. If you’re a gambling person, that’s not great odds (20%), but if you go to a lot of film festivals, it’s really nothing to complain about. 

Below, find some rankings, links to reviews and further thoughts where I have not done so already.

The best

“Love is Strange” – review

“Concerning Violence” – doc overview

“A Most Wanted Man” – review

“Boyhood” – review

“The Green Prince” – review

The pretty darn good

“Life Itself” – review

“Listen Up Philip” – If I’d never seen a Noah Baumbach film before (or one by Cassavetes, Chabrol, Truffaut or Rohmer), I’d probably say it’s a masterpiece. 

“The Overnighters” – doc overview

“Infinitely Polar Bear” – review

“Web Junkie” – some sad, touching and telling moments about disaffected Chinese youth, internet addiction and China’s ideological apparatus

“Land Ho!” – fun in Iceland with old people, but I wanted more.

Memorable, but not for everyone

“We Come as Friends” – doc overview

“Jamie Marks is Dead” – moody, beautifully shot, and I applaud any movie where a character goes from horror-film monster to wounded, fragile soul within seconds.

Decent docs

“The Notorious Mr. Bout” – it could use some trims, but there’s one absolutely amazing character, a grizzled white-haired former U.N. inspector who nails the movie in a single line: “He is not ‘The Merchant of Death’; he is a merchant of some death.”

“Finding Fela” – doc overview

“Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger” – excellent digging, but boring filmmaking.

“Marmato” – doc overview

Not for me

“I Origins” – Mike Cahill may make some beautiful images, but as a devout atheist and unrepentant cynic, I find his films grandiose, overly precious and a bit naive. 

“White Bird in a Blizzard” – review

“Fishing Without Nets” – review

This Article is related to: Reviews



Basically I have watch a lots of my favorite Movie but I am so confused about choosing a best movie for me.


CONCERNING VIOLENCE is not CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Describing it as a 'found footage' work is a rather inexact and misleading.


List feels shaky. Missing obvious favorites of the festival (The Guest, Ping Pong Summer, Whiplash, The Signal, etc)


Freudian slip could have been worse, say in 1991 with contender "Sleeping With the Lambs"… errr, you mean "Sleeping With the Enemy" and "Silence of the Lambs." No, wait–you do mean "Sleeping With the Lambs," you beast.

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