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Sundance Day One: A Critical Roundup

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By Craig Hubert | The Sundance Film Festival began yesterday, and the reviews have started rolling in for the first three films to premiere: Cherien Dabis‘ “May in the Summer,” Sebastian Silva’s mescaline comedy “Crystal Fairy,” starring Michael Cera, and the documentary “Who is Dayani Cristal?” Reviews for all three have been mixed (or in the case of “Crystal Fairy,” slightly bewildered), which might have something to do with the conditions of Park City this year: there is a flu outbreak, and the violence of Hollywood has come under scrutiny via a protest of the festival by Utah’s conservative Sutherland Institute, who wants to ban “obscene” films. The atmosphere is charged, to say the least. Below, a roundup of the the critical response to the festival so far.

“May in the Summer”

“…every beat in the script  feels worked and reworked.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, EW

“…warmly conceived but largely formulaic picture is by turns sensitive and shrill, culturally perceptive and overly broad in its dysfunctional-family melodramatics.” – Justin Chang, Variety

“…it’s far from the least subtle, as her characters helpfully restate their personal and spiritual grievances every quarter-hour or so.” – Guy Lodge, In Contention

Who Is Dayani Cristal?

“Well-meaning, overly earnest and sometimes just plain ill judged.” – Alissa Simon, Variety

“…a step backwards towards the more didactic, moralistic docs of old, leaving little for viewers to deduce or feel for themselves.” – Damon Wise, Guardian

“It should be required viewing for anyone involved in making or enforcing border policy, not to mention the blowhards who have made a cottage industry out of debating it.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Crystal Fairy

“It’s a maddening, annoying, viscerally direct film that is probably my favorite thing I’ve seen in 2013 so far, not that I’ve seen much.” – Zach Baron, Grantland

“Although it’s not his intention, the movie functions as a powerful argument for staying straight: Don’t do drugs, and you won’t have to hang out with assholes.” – Sam Adams, The AV Club

“This is the experience of being the one sober wingman in a room of hallucinating assholes.” – Logan Hill, Esquire

Image: “Crystal Fairy”/Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

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