Sundance online: 'Fair Play' and other festival picks to watch at home

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

'To Live and Die and Live'

Detroit native Qasim Basir returned home to write and direct this raw drama about a Detroit filmmaker who returns home to bury his stepfather, and Basir filmed Detroit in a way that hasn't quite been captured on film before, with a vibrancy and buoyancy that will shock many an outsider. "I wanted to shoot Detroit beautiful because no one does that," Basir told The News earlier this month. "It's always the blight, the decay, the destruction. So it was like, alright, if I have a chance to photograph this city in a way that no one's done it, that would be kind of cool, as a backdrop to this story." "To Live" stars Amin Joseph, Skye P. Marshall and Omari Hardwick and is an ode to the Motor City's new beginnings.


From "Stand and Deliver" to "Dead Poet's Society," from "Summer School" to "School of Rock," something clicks when a story about a teacher breaking through to their students works, and "Radical" works. "CODA's" Eugenio Derbez stars as a teacher in a resource strapped school in Matamoros, Mexico, who throws out the rulebook so he can connect with his students and meet them where they're at. Those students include a budding genius — Jennifer Trejo plays Paloma Noyola Bueno, who has been touted by Wired magazine as "The Next Steve Jobs" — and several other kids who've been kicked around and just need a chance. "Radical" is far from radical; its adherence to convention is its strength. Sometimes, when it's done well, that's enough.

'Kim's Video'

Director David Redmon relates to the world through film, so it's no surprise that his documentary (which he co-directed with Ashley Sabin) includes references to David Lynch, Michelangelo Antonioni, Brian De Palma and more. What is surprising are the turns he takes in this story about the former New York video store and its storied collection of films, and how it ended up traveling to Sicily and eventually back to New York, which is where it belongs. Part documentary, part heist film, "Kim's Video" blurs the lines between being an observer and a participant in glorious, thrilling ways. It's a film nerd's fever dream.



At 44, Gael García Bernal can still pass for being in his mid-20s, and he gives a dazzling performance as a budding pro wrestler in "Cassandro," which is based on the true story of gay amateur wrestler Saúl Armendáriz and his rise to stardom. Bernal gives a very physical, wholly convincing performance as Armendáriz, who goes from wrestling in body shops to the biggest venues in Mexico, with the help of his trainer Sabrina (Roberta Colindrez). Bernal and director Roger Ross Williams have a love for pro wrestling and a compassion for their subject which comes through in their telling, and there's even an appearance by noted pro wrestling fan (and sometimes pro wrestler himself) Bad Bunny. In wrestling terms, this one's a roll-up win for the 1-2-3.

'Fancy Dance'

Lily Gladstone ("Certain Women," Martin Scorsese's upcoming "Killers of the Flower Moon") leads this sturdy drama about an Indigenous woman, caring for her niece after the disappearance of her sister, and her travails with the law and the system. As Jax, Gladstone is tough around the edges but her eyes are deep with compassion; she's lived several lifetimes, not all of them good, and you can see it in her shoulders and the way her character carries herself. Shea Whigham is her father, who doesn't quite know how to do the right thing, and Isabel Deroy-Olson is all innocence as Jax's niece Roki, who just wants to get to the upcoming powwow to dance with her mother one more time.


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