Pinocchio teaser sundance recap Navalny

The first teaser for Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio is here; a secret Sundance documentary has been revealed and the logline is wild; how Lucy and Desi made TV what it is. All in today’s Movie New Rundown.

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Box Office Change-up: This past weekend, Paramount’s horror “requel” Scream was overtaken by Spider-Man: No Way Home, which continues it’s big performance in theaters this winter season, Variety reports.

The Fifth Installment in the Franchise: “Why wasn’t this Scream titled 5cream?” my friend Ryan wants to know. Good question, Ryan.

Pinocchio Teaser: Remember my distinction between different types of teaser trailers last week? Well, the teaser for Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio film is here and it fits all of my acceptable criteria for the format. In fact, it’s a 53 second clip but there is only about 30 seconds of footage. A true teaser through and through. We also get a first look at Geppetto, who narrates.

Secret Sundance Addition: Yesterday, the 10th film in the festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition category was announced as Navalny. “Directed by Daniel Roher, who had unparalleled access to its subject and his inner circle, the film is a revealing documentary thriller about Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny,” the Sundance press release notes on the Navalny addition.

The Navalny Logline: “In August 2020, a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was deathly ill. After he was taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, German authorities confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.”

Sundance Sale: The first major acquisition of the festival was NatGeo taking on the buzzy volcano documentary Fire of Love. I hear the footage is absolutely stunning and I’m a bit disappointed with myself that I missed it. Chris Lindahl from IndieWire has the full report on what the size of that sale means for the rest of the deals to come this week and later after the festival.

I Love Lucy: For our winter print issue, Being the Ricardos cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth gave me a history lesson on just how revolutionary Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s iconic TV show was. You can read that piece here. We also recommend Amy Poehler’s new documentary Lucy and Desi, which just played Sundance, which shows how their love helped build the entire TV industry.

And Now: Here are some quick thoughts on a few films I enjoyed at Sundance so far:

Brian and Charles: An immensely charming and frequently hilarious look at a lonely inventor in Wales whose lo-fi robot named Charles Petrescu, comes to life unexpectedly. I talked to director Jim Archer about filming Charles Petrescu’s blank mannequin face and also about how contemporary mockumentaries haven’t yet adapted to how modern documentaries look and feel. “It could only make it funnier, to make it more serious and to make it look like ‘Oh, this could be a Netflix doc on the Welsh countryside, but there’s a robot in it,’” Archer says. Read my full talk with Archer on Brian and Charles here.

RIOTSVILLE, USA: Sierra Pettengill’s archival-only documentary examines a town constructed by the U.S. military in the ’60s, solely for practicing their riot response. Pettengill’s film is ultra-timely but the project has been in the works for half a decade. I would call Jace Clayton’s ambient score a standout, but honestly, the film is so thoughtfully constructed, it’s all of one piece.

Watcher: I was really taken with this tense barebones thriller. It feeds you just enough information throughout to keep you constantly terrified. The “Is she imagining this?” elements of the stalking at the center of the story never feels overly conspiratorial nor does it play like overt gaslighting — like it often does in other films of this ilk. It’s very unsettling. Scream-queen Maika Monroe delivers a captivating performance as a young American actor living in Romania who believes her stalker might just be a serial killer on the loose. I’m a sucker for films about voyeurism (Rear Window, anything by De Palma, etc.) and the “Who’s stalking who?” idea that Watcher plays with is a lot of fun, despite, as I said, also being very unsettling.

What Do Cooper Raiff and Kanye West Have in Common?: Answer: Unabashed and undying love for their mothers. It’s quite sweet. Between his debut Shithouse, which follows a homesick college freshman who misses his mother and sister, and his buzzy Sundance follow up Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raiff has shown an honest interest in motherhood. “I’m also always thinking about what it means to be a parent,” Raiff said in our survey when asked about the spark of inspiration for Cha Cha Real Smooth.

For Kanye: This comes as no surprise. His last album DONDA was named after his late mother and her voice features prominently throughout the album. In the first part of the three-part jeen-yuhs, which premiered this weekend at Sundance, it was wonderful to get an inside look at the relationship between Kanye and Donda West. Revisiting Chicago after moving to New York City, there is a moment in part one where Donda West affirms Kanye’s vision and his talent. This comes at a time where Kanye is feeling down about his struggles to get people to take him seriously as a rapper and not just a producer. This moment is particularly heartwarming in a documentary that has its fair share of moving moments.

Follow All of Our Sundance Coverage: Here. The link has much more to browse now than when we first shared it ahead of the festival last Thursday, including an interview with Bill Nighy, whose performance in Living drew raves. My interview with The Cathedral director Ricky D’Ambrose is coming later today.

Main image: Guillermo del Toro with Pinocchio. Photo by mandraketheblack.de / Netflix

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