February 7, 2020

SHOWBUZZDAILY Sundance Film Reviews: “Save Yourselves!” & “The Fight”


SAVE YOURSELVES! (no distrib):  A moderately amusing sketch that doesn’t quite have the heft for feature length.  Writer/directors Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson satirize Brooklyn hipsters and sci-fi in their story of a couple, Jack (John Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani), who’ve decided to ditch their devices and spend a week in a remote cabin in upstate New York experiencing (or more accurately enduring) nature and one-on-one communication.  Unfortunately for them, this cuts them off from learning that an alien invasion has occurred (the creatures resemble Star Trek Tribbles more than a bit) and humanity is under assault.  Much of the humor comes from the couple’s narcissistic bickering and basic inability to make a plan or stick to it.  But this is no Shaun of the Dead, which managed to both subvert and deliver its zombie-movie tropes.  Save Yourselves! is very mild stuff, with a few chuckles to offer but very little plot and only superficial characters, and with an ending as casual as the rest of the story.  Its apocalypse is downright amiable.

THE FIGHT (Magnolia – TBD):  An inspiring (or depending on your politics, possibly infuriating) documentary about a selection of ACLU litigators doggedly doing battle with Trump administration policies.  Filmmakers Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg and Eli B. Despres follow cases dealing with immigration, abortion, voting and trans rights from filings through verdicts.  The team previously worked on the documentary Weiner, and The Fight uses a similarly unobtrusive technique to record the strategies, ingenuity and sheer work that goes into pursuing litigations against a federal government with massive resources at its command.  There are triumphs and also disappointments along the way, and the film is particularly effective at illuminating the human cost of the administration policies, and the effect on real people with each courtroom win and loss.  (Scenes of children being reunited with their parents after having been torn apart are hard to shake.)  The Fight is less concerned with the personal lives of its protagonists and even less with the ACLU as an institution, although it does pointedly note that the organization’s commitment to principles has led it to defend the free speech rights of racists and neo-Nazis, among others.  Mostly, the film concentrates on the ways that the legal system can still work on behalf of the poor and under-represented, and while unflashy in its style, it provides the satisfactions of a worthy tale well told.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."