A Sundance Festival Sampler
The New York Times / 29 January 2015 Back to News
PARK CITY, Utah — Every January at the Sundance Film Festival, a movie or two will pop, exciting a cinematic congregation that descends on this resort town praying for the next big thing and at times finding it. Last year the festival got the party started with “Whiplash,” one of its opening selections, and then sent attendees into raptures with “Boyhood.” No single title has dominated this year’s event, yet after a slow start that had some writing off the event before it really got going, good and great movies — from coming-of-age tales like “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” to documentaries like “Prophet’s Prey” and “Welcome to Leith” — affirmed that, once again, this was the place to be.
Among the most original selections this year are Michael Almereyda’s “Experimenter,” a conceptually exciting, intellectually searching portrait of the social psychologist Stanley Milgram (a superb Peter Sarsgaard), whose famous 1960s obedience experiments, in which subjects delivered punishing shocks on command, were later condemned. Making the most of an obviously low budget, Mr. Almereyda bridges the past and present with a movie that looks back at the Holocaust and toward Abu Ghraib. Mr. Sarsgaard, occasionally addressing the camera and sometimes accompanied by an elephant that materializes in the room, delivers a forceful yet intimate performance that expresses his character’s sincerity and the sinister undertow of his methods. Sundance could use more movies, like “Experimenter,” that are adventurous in form and thought, not just in subject.