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Blame my Catholic upbringing, but guilt is my almost constant companion. At work there is guilt for not watching TV anymore, which leads to guilt at home for spending too much time watching TV. Even if I can part with those millions of screens, I often feel guilty because I’m having too much fun – or not enough. There is a lingering guilt over childhood misdeeds (too irrelevant and therefore embarrassing to admit being remembered here), and there is growing guilt right now that I’ve spent the life of this review talking about myself .

The point is: guilt can come from anywhere. Right or wrong, useful or hindering, immutable or fleeting, the sense of doing something wrong (and the resulting fear of wondering how bad it was) can drive people to do a number of things, and at this one Year Else Varies In a number of indie episode entries at the Sundance Film Festival, guilt is a driving narrative force—even when it’s absent.

Take Richie Mehta’s true crime drama, “poacher.” Based on a 2015 investigation into the largest elephant ivory poachers in Indian history, the eight-part series (three of which were screened at the festival) follows a handful of Indian field officials, NGOs and police officers tasked with abducting this wild animal -Terrorists in court.

Mehta, who last premiered the similar “Delhi Crime” at Sundance in 2019, sticks to genre basics. Mala (Nimisha Sajayan) is a top-notch IFS agent who was called from exile to work on the case. She can be stubborn, energetic, and doesn’t always stick to the book — but she gets the job done. Alan (Roshan Mathew) is her number-crunching partner. Though not officially an officer, his knowledge of snake venom makes him a popular point of contact for doctors and lumberjacks, and soon his knowledge of data helps him on a much larger case. (Yes, he’s a computer nerd and a snake expert.) Both are subordinate to a chief (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) who must spend a lifetime soliciting favors in order to solve one last case before retiring.

While no one says “I’m getting too old for this shit” or gives up their badge in disgust (at least not yet), “Poacher” wears its clichés with pride and serves up satisfying thrills while toning down the violence that’s prevalent in Mehta’s final series. (Episode 3 begins with a brief, gruesome shot of a CGI elephant with its tusks removed.) But what’s keeping his latest work from becoming a modern-day parody of ’80s cop movies is his characters’ motivations. Mala, Alan, their colleagues and most of the civilians express their outrage at anyone who harms elephants, but it’s not revenge that drives our two heroes; it’s guilt. Tasked with protecting India’s native creatures, Mala and her team all believed that elephant poaching had been eradicated nearly two decades earlier. When they find out it’s happening right under their noses – and at an unprecedented rate – they’re naturally angry at the poachers, but they’re just as angry at themselves.

In a monologue, Mala expresses a nationally internalized guilt: The Native Americans are so ashamed of the country’s poaching history that they feel an additional responsibility towards the world’s largest existing land animal. This layered appeal helps ground “Poacher,” but messes up another indie episodes entry. “Chanshi”, Created by and starring Aleeza Chanowitz, follows the twenty-something of the same name who flees her life in Brooklyn to start anew in Israel. Chanshi is introduced on the flight to Tel Aviv and dreams of Israeli soldiers wanting to have sex with her. It turns out her subconscious is pretty literal, and from the second she sets foot in the Holy Land, Chanshi just wants to sleep with every “tall, dark Mizrahi” man she can find, preferably in uniform.

That would be all well and good, except that she’s reportedly there for her best friend’s wedding – oh, and Chanshi herself is already engaged. Despite telling her orthodox fiancé Mendy (Dor Gvirtsman) and family in New York that Noki (Marnina Schon) needs her help with the wedding preparations, Chanshi is actually in Israel to give up her American life entirely. What she doesn’t anticipate, however, is the pressure to return from Noki, her extended family, and even the men she’s trying to sleep with. As she plans to make aliyah, Chanshi is reminded of her obligations – obligations she is dying to forget through a parade of hot Israeli lovers – and her ambitions are twisted into a deadlocked knot of indecisiveness. It’s clear that she hoped that her actions – flying to Israel and sleeping with other men – would sever all ties, but it turns out that orthodox Jews aren’t quick to sever ties with any of their own.

Chanshi Sundance 2023 Indie Episodic Aleeza Chanowitz

Aleeza Chanowitz in “Chanshi”

Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

However, Chanshi, especially as the lead actress, is underexplored in four episodes. Her quest initially feels monotonous and more than a little gruesome, as Chanowitz offers no backstory to her character’s “escape” and revels in Chanshi’s parade of selfish choices. Noki is a much more accessible and engaging route into a story of oppression and loss, but her arc is also too slow to form, leaving the series drifting almost halfway through the first season.

“The Night Logan Woke Up” on the other hand is acutely focused. ‘Mommy’ and ‘I Killed My Mother’ filmmaker Xavier Dolan returns to motherly territory in his first TV series, a mystery soap opera that explores the mysteries of a Quebec family following the death of their – you guessed it – mother come to light. Like Pedro Almodóvar’s fierce twin, the Larouche family is captured with black borders and a faded color palette heralding horrific events to come, as well as many past transgressions yet to be uncovered. Affairs, nightmares, secret siblings and a literal mystery box are just some of the juicy facets revealed over the first two hours, as Dolan – in the adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s play – introduces each key player, offering clues to their tormented histories (both shared and personal) and blasts a group of loved ones just holding on for what it is.

Even before Madeleine (Anne Dorval) dies (an inevitability promised shortly after meeting her), The Night Logan Woke Up looks into his character’s troubled self-esteem. Denis (Éric Bruneau) may be the de facto family patriarch, but he has nightmares about his mother’s suicide and hangs around with old stuff. Julien (Patrick Hivon) oozes intensity, whether he’s terrified of a menacing figure chewing behind him in class or dashing outside his mother’s bed before it’s too late. Elliot, played by Dolan himself, is the black sheep and Mama’s favorite boy; A contradiction that sent him to rehab 120 days earlier, from which he is released only to say goodbye to a dying parent. Chantal (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau) may be the “backbone” of the family, but she can no longer reach her husband Julien and the weight of responsibility has her eyes elsewhere.

With just five episodes total, The Night Logan Woke Up hums through its first two hours and seems destined for big payoffs and operatic tragedies. His close-knit but deeply troubled family makes for an emotional spectacle that’s as captivating as it is harrowing, and couldn’t be further from the final indie episode entry. “Willie Nelson & Family.” The only documentary in the bunch, the five-part series from Thom Zimny ​​and Oren Moverman casually hops through the life and career of its star singer-songwriter. Nelson talks about his love of old westerns, his intolerance of assholes (Nelson describes his philosophy with three rules: “Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a goddamn asshole.”) and , most of all, his deep love for God and family.

Willie Nelson Documentary Willie Nelson and Family Sundance 2023

“Willi Nelson & Family”

Timothy D. Easley / Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

His daughter, Lana, and son, Lukas, are among the awesome conversation heads who help chronicle their dear aged dad’s artistic and personal aspirations, though Zimny ​​and Moverman balance the music icon’s broader influence with country stars like Kenny Chesney and others, according to the Texas Monthly -Author John Spong. (Dolly Parton, Roseanne Cash, Brenda Lee, Bill Anderson, and many more also make appearances.) Rarely attempting to be more than a loving ode to a beloved character, “Willie Nelson & Family” can be scattered in its structure, subject to subject and Decade to decade without major transitions. (It has a real “five hour movie” feel to it.) But best of all, the series embodies Willie’s trademark rhythm: not trying to follow the beat, but fitting the music to its meaning.

It’s also the opposite of guilt. Willie surrounds himself with family and friends. Other famous musicians tell several stories about the famous singer who came to their recording sessions or to one of their shows simply because he likes to play their music. As informal as he is welcoming, he walks the path of a man too high in life (and so much weed) to waste it sweating on the little things. Even Nelson’s notorious IRS scandal – when he owed $32 million in unpaid taxes in 1990 – is portrayed as little more than disappointment at his bosses’ bad advice, a bit of extra work for the singer (he produced a double album entitled The IRS Tapes” with all profits going to his account) and an illustration of family taking care of family. (When the IRS confiscated and auctioned his fortune, his beloved Trigger guitar was smuggled back to him by close friends, and many of his favorite possessions were gifted or rented back to him for a small fee.)

Whatever you attribute to Nelson’s fame as a country musician and loving family life, his sane demeanor (as portrayed in the docuseries) serves as an antidote to the turmoil created by “Poacher,” “Chanshi,” and “The Night Logan Woke Up.” ” stream. It doesn’t necessarily make better television, but it certainly seems like a better life.

The Sundance Indie Episodic Lineup 2023 is available to stream until January 29th.

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Sundance Indie Episodic Review: Xavier Dolan, ‘Poacher’ Top Section – World Time Todays

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