Sundance Film Festival: ‘Nanny’ leads the parade

When a character took a severed human leg out of the fridge in the horror movie “Fresh,” I burst out laughing and then stopped. I have that luxury because, like everyone else this year, I didn’t have to fly to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival but attended this impressive version of luxury at home. So I just fast-forwarded to the terrifying appearance of the leg cutter. As for the movie, it would have been fine without my love: It has received rave reviews and will be released by Hulu, the Disney-owned company because, sometimes, dreams come true. become the truth.

The human leg was part of a colorful parade of body parts on display at this year’s Sundance, including an actual tomb of amputated limbs, dismembered heads and dissected intestines. The specter of horror conductor David Cronenberg haunts “Resurrection,” a macabre performance that didn’t quite hit the spot with stellar Rebecca Hall, while other films owe fame to Jordan Peele’s 2017 Sundance hit.” Get Out”, especially “Master” (about a black student and professor at a white-dominated university) and “Emergency”, an entertaining film about three friends who are trapped in a white nightmare.

I don’t like “Fresh,” the movie that uses the bizarre in captivity to end questionable feminism, although I could have liked it with more company. Watching a horror movie alone is not like being in a movie theater full of other people, even in Sundance. There, audiences tend to get super-excited and excited just to be in the room, seeing a movie for the first time, and often with filmmakers in attendance. The solemn atmosphere of the festival can certainly be misleading and turn trivial things into events, but the buzz of such hype is always drowned out by the joy of experiencing and discovering. explore with others.

This is the second year Sundance has been forced to abandon its live plans because of the pandemic. The festival has established sound and mask-vax protocols, and the Utah county where Sundance takes place has higher vaccination rates than New York or Los Angeles. But Utah also had the third-highest rate of Covid-19 infections in the country as of Monday, as The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported. And, to be honest, given how often I come home from Sundance with a bad cold or the flu (including an assault of a mysterious bug that has let me down in 2020), I don’t. bother booking another expensive apartment.

Instead, I moved into the living room, connected my laptop to the TV, and streamed from the festival’s easy-to-use website. In between movies, I texted some of the co-workers I hung out with at Sundance while we were in Park City. In 2020, we shared our love with “Time,” a documentary by Garrett Bradley about a family’s struggles with the American prison system. (I covered the 2021 edition of the festival.) This year, we’re again dealing with must-sees and must-haves. “I told you it was terrible,” my friend told me of “You’ll Never Be Lonely,” a shocker about a witch. She sighed. We also keep coming back to a favorite: “Wow Nanny,” she texted. Oh, yes.

Featured in this year’s U.S. drama competition, “Nanny” is one of the other choices that I deeply regret not being able to meet the audience, because of both her visceral shocks and her lush beauty. it. In this case, I would sit still, like I did at home, where distractions in the house can make it difficult to pay attention, especially when a movie isn’t powerful enough to keep you completely. That was never a problem with “Nanny,” which captivated me from the start with its visuals and mystery, emotional depth, and tight control that writer-director Nikyatu Jusu maintains over the material. hers.

Set in New York, the story revolves around Aisha (the excellent Anna Diop), a Senegalese immigrant who recently took up the position of nanny. Her new workplace, a posh space as sterile as a magazine layout, sounded the alarm immediately, as did the white owner’s oversmirk and haunting instructions, Amy (Michelle Monaghan). Set reminiscent of “Black Girl”, Senegalese auteur The classic 1966 film by Ousmane Sembène about the horrors of postcolonialism. It was an obvious aesthetic and political break for Jusu, who nevertheless quickly and confidently turned in his own direction.

Like some of the other selections at this year’s festival, “Nanny” is a horror film with a profound difference; unlike too many other filmmakers, Jusu was never boxed in by genre. Instead, horror movie conventions are part of an expanding toolkit that includes narrative ellipses, bold use of color, and figures from African folklore, including a trickster. trick in the form of a spider and a water spirit named Mami Wata. Here, clichés like the oppressive house, controlling master, and vulnerable heroine prove far more complicated than they appear, deftly reinterpreted for a heart-wrenching story. this suffering, this obsession.

Women in distress are familiar characters on screen, but this year there are a number of different types of directors stabbing knives in the neck. At one point — between streaming, smiling, grimacing, crying, and sometimes getting impatient — I realized I didn’t bother counting the number of women and people of color on this year’s show. . I’ve seen enough fictional stories and documentaries with different kinds of people that I didn’t begin to forcefully describe filmmakers. Yes, there are a few Sundance relatables, the eternally cute and sly white children of Indiewood, but not enough to trigger you back to the old days when the carnival was clogged with Tarantino clones.

The celebrity in the auteurist scene at Sundance these days is Jordan Peele, whose radical use of the genre continues to feel relevant to the traumas of contemporary life. The upside to the horror stories on this show is clearly a matter of usability, cinematic imitation, and curatorial discretion. With all the screen appearances this year, I would imagine that festival director Tabitha Jackson and show director Kim Yutani have a strong stomach and a strong sense of humour. They are certainly feminists too, which if pleased, needless to say and might help explain why there are three movies about abortion.

The two movies I’ve seen – the good action drama “Call Jane” and the information-rich, certainly documentary “The Janes” – are not horror movies in the usual sense, but more like examples. More common examples of the genre, they also highlight the body, and specifically the female body, in danger. Every movie visit again Jane Collective, a group of women and some men from 1968 to 1973 helped women in Chicago have safe abortions before the procedure was a constitutional right. And while the image of a member (Elizabeth Banks) on “Call Jane” learning to abort by practicing on a pumpkin may not be a Halloween joke, I still laugh.

On a conspicuous, quantifiable level, this year’s show reaffirms that the true diversity of filmmakers also delivers on acclaimed cinematic diversity. It is easy to think of representation as an abstraction, as a political satire, as a rallying cry, as boring. Again and again this year, the sight of all these bodies, especially women – including Emma Thompson letting it all unfold beautifully in the light-hearted comedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” – is a reminder that these avatars are not marked boxes. They embody the truths, pleasures, and terrors of women and people of color, who have long acted as canvases for fantasies of difference that have gained control of the image. theirs. Sundance Film Festival: ‘Nanny’ leads the parade

Fry Electronics Team

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