Sundance Film Festival Movie Reviews Roundup

The Sundance Film Festival sure is a crazy time. So instead of posting a bunch of separate articles for each individual film, we decided to post them all here! Check out each toggle for reviews of the films we saw at Sundance.

 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Directed by: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Starring: Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aïssa Maïga, Joseph Marcell, Maxwell Simba

Young William Kamkwamba lives with his family in rural Malawi, where he attends school regularly and shows great aptitude for his studies. Yet after land development and poor weather lead to a meager harvest, famine strikes the village, alarming the community and forcing William to drop out of school when his father (Chiwetel Ejiofor) can no longer afford the fees. Determined to find a way out of the life-threatening situation his family is facing, William sneaks into the school library to research – and soon conspires to build a windmill pump to irrigate the land. Caught between his father’s close-minded skepticism and the difficulty of creating a machine out of bicycle parts and scrap materials, William races against the clock to fight for his community’s survival.

Renowned actor Chiwetel Ejiofor makes his directorial debut with this inspiring true story. Based on Kamkwamba’s autobiography, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind brings the title character’s ingeniousness, perseverance, and hope to the big screen, reminding us how boldness and innovation can unlock seemingly impossible solutions.

Film Review

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a beautiful tale of perseverance, even in the face of extreme hardship and death. This film is not only beautifully shot, but each actor’s performance is also spot on and emotional.

Let’s just get this out of the way now: Yes, you will cry.

Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in the original production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) plays the librarian who helps William get the information he needs in the school library, even though he has been expelled because his family cannot afford to pay the school fees.

There is a great dry season in Malawi, which causes William’s family, along with the whole village of Wimbe, to experience hunger. William, even though he is no longer allowed to attend school, sneaks into the library with the help of some of his teachers and finds a book on how to make a windmill to produce water. After much pushback from his father, he is finally able to get the windmill built and help crops for the whole village prosper, even in the dry season.

After watching this film, you are immediately reminded how lucky you are if you live in a place where water and electricity are readily available. Even through all his hardships, William never gives up. When he gets kicked out of school, he never gives up. When no one, not even his father, believes in him enough to let him build the windmill, he never gives up. The main message of this film is that no matter what your circumstances, if you believe in something enough and give your absolute 100%, you can make a difference.

 

The Magic Life of V

Directed by: Tonislav Hristov

Starring: Slava Doycheva, Veera Lapinkoski

Wizards, magic spells, and heroic sword battles are just fantasy for some, but for Veera, they’re a meaningful part of conquering her inner trauma. When Veera transforms into her LARP (live-action role-play) persona V, the game’s fantasy battlefields give her a space to combat her psychological turmoil. Tormented by her past, Veera finds in LARP the support and solace she needs to become the hero of her own story.

Tonislav Hristov’s elegant film is an intimate representation of an epic emotional journey. Wielding a tight camera, Hristov deftly translates Veera’s internal struggle into nuanced cinematic moments. Images of Veera traversing snowy landscapes offer transitional reprieve between her battlegrounds. Flashes from home videos offer impressionistic glimpses into her childhood. Discussions about her father are a source of tension between Veera and her disabled brother, whom she cares for. Therapy sessions slowly reveal the complexities of Veera’s struggle. Yet remembering and speaking about these memories goes only so far – Veera will need V’s courage if she’s going to confront her most intimidating challenge of all.

MuggleNet was able to sit down with the director of this film. You can check out the interview, along with a review of the film, here.

 

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

Directed by: Joe Berlinger

Starring: Lily Collins, Zac Efron, Haley Joel Osment, Jim Parsons, Angela Sarafyan,

1969. Ted (Zac Efron) is crazy-handsome, smart, charismatic, affectionate. And cautious single mother Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins) ultimately cannot resist his charms. For her, Ted is a match made in heaven, and she soon falls head over heels in love with the dashing young man. A picture of domestic bliss, the happy couple seems to have it all figured out… until, out of nowhere, their perfect life is shattered. Ted is arrested and charged with a series of increasingly grisly murders. Concern soon turns to paranoia – and as evidence piles up, Liz is forced to consider that the man with whom she shares her life could actually be a psychopath.

This is the story of Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. Collins shines as Liz, while Zac Efron gives a performance that could redefine his career. Renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger, best known for his true-crime documentaries, proves to be the perfect match to bring this Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile true story to the screen.

Film Review

Ted Bundy’s story is one everyone knows. Even if you weren’t alive while everything was unfolding, you know it. Why is that?

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile explores what made Ted Bundy so prolific. The majority of the film is shown from his girlfriend’s point of view. Clips of news reports about the unsolved murders are split by clips of Bundy living his life happily. The film really ingrains into your head that serial killers do not all have one face, that even educated, attractive white men who never had any ‘warning signs’ can be capable of unspeakable things, things that are extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile.

Zac Efron’s acting as Bundy in this film is phenomenal. He brings to life the charismatic Bundy the media fell in love with. And for split seconds throughout the story, if you can manage to forget that this is a true story and he really did do all those horrible things, you may even find yourself feeling sorry for Bundy for a fleeting moment.

This entire cast is just one giant powerhouse that brings a side to the story that we don’t often get to see, the side of Bundy’s family and friends, and how everything affected them. Lily Collins’ portrayal of Liz Kloepfer, Bundy’s girlfriend at the time he is arrested, is heartbreaking and you will definitely find yourself in tears as she deals with the trauma that Bundy put her through.

This film is due to come out soon, and I highly recommend you go see it.

 

Stay tuned for more of MuggleNet’s Sundance coverage. Do you plan to see any of these films? Let us know in the comments below!