Sundance at Home Review: The Most Highly Anticipated Films of 2022

Sundance at Home Review: The Most Highly Anticipated Films of 2022

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Sundance at Home Review: The Most Highly Anticipated Films of 2022

From Ye's three series filmJeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy to Phoenix Rising the reenactment of Evan Rachel Wood's relationship with Marilyn Manson-- these four picks are the ones to watch out for

From Ye's three series filmJeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy to Phoenix Rising the reenactment of Evan Rachel Wood's relationship with Marilyn Manson-- these four picks are the ones to watch out for

Text: Greg Krelenstein

A virtual Sundance still presented plenty of fun to be had on your couch.  Sundance is known for its powerful documentaries and this year some of the most exciting ones were music bent exploring the industry’s most dynamic performers and musical scenes.

See below for our top picks:

Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy - Act 1 (Vision)

In the first part of the three-series film,  Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy - Act 1 (Vision),  showcasing the moment before Kanye West exploded onto the music scene as a solo artist and light-years prior to becoming the controversial industry figure we know today.  Through his early professional days in Chicago and New York, the first act focuses on West’s journey for a record deal from Roc-A-Fella, having achieved some success producing for other musicians, most famously Jay Z.  The trilogy was directed by West’s friends Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah (aka Coodie & Chike), a duo that worked with him on music videos and had faith in their collaborator to abandon their own career and follow him around. The act concludes when he lands a rising artist segment on MTV News and you can already see where he was going. The best scenes are with his mother, Donda.  Offering the advice that “You can stay on the ground and be in the air at the same time,” it’s the humanity in those scenes that are the heart of the film and provide clues to why she’s been one of the driving forces in his career leading up to his latest record. The film is set for a nationwide theatrical release on February 10 ahead of a Netflix premiere on February 16.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising, directed by Amy Berg, is the retelling of events of abuse by one of Hollywood’s most dynamic young actresses, Evan Rachel Wood by her ex fiancé Marilyn Manson.  We first came to know her as a troubled teen in films such as Thirteen and the alt girl appearing on the iconic Vanity Fair cover featuring Young Hollywood starlets including Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, Lindsay Lohan, and Amanda Bynes.  Though the anecdotes of her personal struggles could be a movie onto itself, and one not yet resolved as there will be a second part not screened at the festival, it’s where her journey to break free from their painful relationship and rise from the ashes of it that gives the film some redemption.  Through the creation of the Phoenix Act, a survivor-led nonprofit coalition Wood helped assemble, she’s effectively helped in the struggle of domestic violence victims by extending the statute of limitations in the U.S. There’s no real ending here as Manson hasn’t faced any formal charges, but the fire in Wood has been ignited and she’s added perhaps her most important credit to her resume – activist. Phoenix Rising: Part One: Don’t Fall” is the first chapter in a two-part documentary. With part one airing at Sundance, HBO will premiere part two later this year.

Nothing Compares

Nothing Compares follows the life and career of Sinead O’Connor, from her abusive childhood through her unexpected success with the Prince penned smash hit Nothing Compares 2 U to the infamous SNL appearance during which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II.  Through the artist’s own voiceovers and talk show clips, we are reminded of the three incidents that led to her retreat from mainstream culture.  Standing with the hip-hop artists who boycotted the 1989 Grammys because the rap awards were not televised, she performed with the Public Enemy logo painted into her shaved head. As her star was rising, she refused to go on stage in New Jersey if the venue played the U.S. national anthem during the Gulf War American Patriotism wave causing radio stations to stop playing her music. And after first reports of child abuse by the Catholic Church broke, she performed Bob Marley’s “WAR,” on SNL, tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II,  announcing: “fight the real enemy.” And like the recent reassessment pop culture showed to other females including Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, the documentary explores a time before it was trendy for celebs to be political.  Directed by fellow Irishwoman Kathryn Ferguson, this portrait of the singer examines how her early trauma spawned a true revolutionary whose spark can be found in today’s female pop-culture leaders. The film is been bought by US Network, Showtime.

Meet Me In The Bathroom

Based on the hit 2017 book of the same name by Lizzy Goodman, Meet Me In The Bathroom revisits the Lower East Side and Williamsburg indie music scene of the early 2000s that spawned such acts as The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and LCD Soundsystem. Tightening the source material to focus only on a few of the scene’s brightest acts (the exception being the prominence of the art project Moldy Peaches), directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern use archival footage with voiceover to tell the story of a New York that now seems as vintage as the CBGB’s of the punk scene that preceded it.  The film also places the music within the political and technological climate of the period – 9/11 happened only a month or so after The Strokes released their debut album, but also Napster, MySpace, and Ipods.  The film works best when it focused on the personal anecdotes of the scene’s leaders. The most captivating being Karen O, who with the help of some alcohol and the styling of Christian Joy, became a true rock god superhero, yet inside was facing the pressures of being a half white-half Korean woman in a male-dominated scene.  The film plays like a nice time capsule “coming of age” tale of the last music era that was consumed with cool, even as the bands skyrocketed to success. This film is still seeking distribution.

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