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Cinema Chat: Top picks at Sundance, 'Alice Cooper at 75,' 'Knock at the Cabin,' and more

Sundance Film Festival sign
Sundance Film Festival sign


This year, the Sundance Film Festival returned in-person events with a vengeance. After two straight mostly virtual editions, the festival got back to almost-normal with packed crowds squeezing into the shuttles and trudging up and down Main Street. The films with the most support were Chloe Domont’s “Fair Play,” which was on the online Sundance streaming platform and sold for a reported $20 million to Netflix, followed by Celine Song’s “Past Lives,” which was an A24 title since its origination and only played in-person in Park City. Both “Fair Play” and “Past Lives” are first-time features.

Critical consensus out of Sundance can be an unpredictable barometer for future success. Last year’s survey winner, “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” scored a big deal with Apple out of the festival but failed to garner much traction in awards season; the year prior, however, the survey was topped by two future Oscar winners, “CODA,” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.”


  1. “Fair Play”
  2. “Past Lives”
  3. “Magazine Dreams”
  4. “Rye Lane”
  5. “Eileen”
  6. “Theater Camp”
  7. “Passages”
  8. “You Hurt My Feelings”
  9. “Infinity Pool” (currently playing)
  10. “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt”


  1. “Scrapper”
  2. “Shayda”
  3. “Mamacruz”
  4. “Heroic”
  5. “Slow”


  • “To Live & Die & Live” (Qasim Basir)
  • “Sometimes I Think About Dying”
  • “Fantastic Machine”
  • “Cat Person”


  1. “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”
  2. “20 Days in Mariupol”
  3. “Little Richard: I Am Everything”
  4. “Kokomo City”
  5. “Beyond Utopia”
  6. “The Eternal Memory”
  7. “The Disappearance of Shere Hite”
  8. “Kim’s Video”
  9. “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields”
  10. “Judy Blume Forever”


"All Quiet on the Western Front" — OPENS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 AT THE STATE

A 2022 German epic anti-war film based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque. Directed by Edward Berger, it stars Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Hülk,Aaron Hilmer, Edin Hasanovic, and Devid Striesow. Set in the closing days of World War I, it follows the life of an idealistic young German soldier named Paul Bäumer. After enlisting in the German Army with his friends, Bäumer finds himself exposed to the realities of war, shattering his early hopes of becoming a hero as he does his best to survive. The film adds a parallel storyline not found in the book, which follows the armistice negotiations to end the war.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received positive reviews from critics for faithfulness to the source material's anti-war message. It received a leading 14 nominations at the 76th British Academy Film Awards and nine at the 95th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best International Feature.

"Knock at the Cabin" — OPENS TODAY AT THE STATE

A 2023 American apocalyptic psychological horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on the 2018 novel "The Cabin at the End of the World" by the award-winning horror author Paul G. Tremblay; it is the first adaptation of one of his works. The film stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird,Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint.

While vacationing at a remote cabin, a young girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed strangers who demand that the family make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse. With limited access to the outside world, the family must decide what they believe before all is lost.

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" — OPENS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 AT THE MICHIGAN

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert ("Swiss Army Man"), collectively known as The Daniels, the film is a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action adventure about an exhausted Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who can't seem to finish her taxes.


Cultura d'Italia Series (Thursdays at the State)

"Alice Cooper at 75" (a special book and film event) — PLAYS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 AT THE MICHIGAN

7:00 Book Signing | "Alice Cooper at 75" by Gary Graff

7:30pm | Pre-Screening Discussion with Gary Graff & Rob Reinhart

8:00 | "Super Duper Alice Cooper" film screening

Gary Graff, an award-winning music journalist based in Detroit, is a regular contributor to the Billboard and other publications, as well as to radio stations in Detroit and Milwaukee. He is the co-author of "Neil Young: Long May You Run," Rock 'n' roll Myths: The True Stories Behind the Most Famous Legends," and "Travelin' Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger" and is also co-founder and co-producer of the Emmy Award-winning Detroit Music Awards.

Rob Reinhart, an Ann Arbor native, owns a radio production company, has written and produced syndicated comedy for radio, voiced thousands of radio and TV commercials, and hosts the syndicated Acoustic Café radio show (heard in 120+ cities worldwide).


Part of the Late Nights at the State series

High-school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), always a bit of a misfit, doesn't expect life to change much when she moves from sunny Arizona to rainy Washington state. Then she meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a handsome but mysterious teen whose eyes seem to peer directly into her soul. Edward is a vampire whose family does not drink blood, and Bella, far from being frightened, enters into a dangerous romance with her immortal soulmate.


Part of the Films We Love series

Sweet-natured Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) falls for banker's son Tony Kirby (James Stewart). But when she invites her snooty prospective in-laws to dinner to give their blessing to the marriage, Alice's peculiar extended family -- including philosophical grandfather Martin Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore), hapless fledgling ballerina sister Essie (Ann Miller) and fireworks enthusiast father, Paul (Samuel S. Hinds) -- might be too eccentric for the staid Kirbys. From director Frank Capra.



A 2022 British drama film adapted from the 1952 Japanese film "Ikiru" directed by Akira Kurosawa, which in turn was inspired by the 1886 Russian novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Set in 1953 London, it depicts a bureaucrat in the county Public Works department (played by Bill Nighy) facing a fatal illness. It had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and received positive reviews, with Nighy's performance receiving particular acclaim. It received nominations for Best Actor (for Nighy) and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 95th Academy Awards. The film is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful.

"Women Talking" 

A 2022 American drama film written and directed by Sarah Polley. It is based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Miriam Toews and inspired by real-life events that occurred at the Manitoba Colony in Bolivia. The film stars Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, and Frances McDormand, who is also a producer on the film.

The film had its world premiere at the 49th Telluride Film Festival. The film received praise from critics for Polley's screenplay and direction, the performances of the cast (particularly Foy, Buckley, and Whishaw) and score. It was named one of the top ten films of 2022 by the American Film Institute, and at the 95th Academy Awards received nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

"Infinity Pool"

Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg ("Possessor," 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and son of director David Cronenberg) returns to Park City with a new sci-fi trip through the wicked exploits of foreigners abroad. Crushing violence and surreal horrors puncture this dark satire of the privileged few, centered on the depraved lead performances of Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth.


Highly anticipated new film from acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda ("Shoplifters;" "After the Storm;" "Like Father, Like Son")

The film follows two brokers who sell orphaned infants, circumventing the bureaucracy of legal adoption, to affluent couples who can't have children of their own. After an infant's mother surprises the duo by returning to ensure her child finds a good home, the three embark on a journey to find the right couple, building an unlikely family of their own.

Starring Song Kang-ho, who audiences will remember for his memorable role in 2019’s "Parasite," and who won the Best Actor Award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where the film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or.


An internationally co-produced 2022 road film directed byJerzy Skolimowski and inspired by Robert Bresson's 1966 film "Au Hasard Balthazar," it follows the life of a donkey born in a Polish circus. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022, where it won the Jury Prize. It is on the shortlist for the 2023 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

The world is a mysterious place when seen through the eyes of an animal. EO, a grey donkey with melancholic eyes, meets good and bad people on his life's path, experiences joy and pain, endures the wheel of fortune randomly turn his luck into disaster and his despair into unexpected bliss. But not even for a moment does he lose his innocence.

"Decision to Leave" 

From writer/director Park Chan-wook, one of the most prominent South Korean filmmakers working today "‘Oldboy", "The Handmaiden")

From a mountain peak in South Korea, a man plummets to his death, leaving the question: Did he jump, or was he pushed? When detective Hae-joon arrives on the scene, he begins to suspect the dead man's wife, but as he digs deeper into the investigation, he finds himself trapped in a web of deception and desire.

The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where Park won Best Director, and was also selected as the South Korean entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards. It was also named one of the top 5 international films of 2022 by the National Board of Review.

"The Whale"

From directorDarren Aronofsky, known for his psychological dramas "Pi", "Requiem for a Dream", and "Black Swan".

Starring Brendan Fraser as a reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.

Fraser has received a Best Actor nomination at the 80th Golden Globe Awards and is inspiring the discussion of a “Frasierssance” that may be upon us.

"The Fabelmans" 

A 2022 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and written and produced by Tony Kushner and Spielberg. It is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Spielberg's adolescence and first years as a director, told through an original story of the fictional Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who explores how the power of movies can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch. It is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg's real-life parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2022, where it won the People's Choice Award.

Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.

"The Menu"

A 2022 American comedy horror film directed by Mark Mylod, written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, and produced by Adam McKay, Betsy Koch, and Will Ferrellthrough their production banners Hyperobject Industries and Gary Sanchez Productions respectively. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo. It had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Young couple Margot and Tyler (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travel to a remote island to eat at Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant run by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), who has prepared a lavish molecular gastronomy menu where food is treated as conceptual art, although his approach to cuisine has some shocking surprises for the wealthy guests.

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Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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