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Cinema’s Missing Link
Sasquatch Sunset takes the movies back to their primal roots.

Cinema’s Missing Link

🎞️ Movies on tap · Sasquatch Sunset · Things to see · Places to go · Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

Abbreviated newsletter sans Nashville section this morning. Heavy focus on activities. Preds game three tonight against the Canucks. Chasing that 2017 playoff run energy.



Those who claim that Hollywood offers nothing new have clearly never seen Elvis’s granddaughter and the guy from The Social Network in full sasquatch makeup shitting in the road. It’s a scene that comes midway into Sasquatch Sunset, the latest film from the Zellner Brothers that instantly became a legendary audience polarizer at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. 

The movie’s premiere prompted The Atlantic’s Shirley Li to deem the film part of a long line of arthouse “crowd upsetters,” a jumping off point for her to meditate on why audiences want to watch films that are “exercises in perseverance.” As the lead-up to Sasquatch Sunset’s release earlier this month reached its crescendo, articles that erred on the side of clickbait rather than Li’s thoughtfulness dominated the conversation around the film. Perhaps it was a marketing tactic from the movie’s distributor, Bleeker Street, or just an organic groundswell of outrage because that’s the most viable genre of online discourse. 

Yet, for a movie that allegedly had Sundancegoers running for the exits, there’s nothing in Sasquatch Sunset that raises the ick factor of late-90s comedies. The truly shocking aspect of the film is that, in a cinematic climate of multiverses, convoluted worldbuilding, and franchise mythologies, its radical minimalism proves that the driving force behind the movies hasn’t changed all that much since the silent era. 

Confident in their narrative’s appeal, the Zellners have no interest in intricate plot mechanics. Within its 90-minute runtime, the film follows a quartet of Sasquatches (Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, Nathan Zellner, and Christophe Zajac-Denek) as they go about business as usual in the Pacific Northwest. Until the now-infamous highway territory marking incident, the film feels sequestered in a timeless world, the type of pastoral reverie that’s the stuff of Greenpeace flyers. It’s a depiction with a host of double meanings, a reminder that the natural world continues to endure and that human understanding of it is so limited that we make up and celebrate mythic creatures because we can never know the true reality of unchartered terrain. 

The Zellners could have gotten a lot of mileage out of National Geographicing these Bigfeet. But the entire point of Sasquatch Sunset is that humans have an innate drive to sanitize nature so they can feel in control. There’s a reason the average episodic on Animal Planet excises the scratching and humping and barrage of excretions that the film quite easily normalizes. The movies have spent decades training us to laugh at Cameron Diaz’s jizzy hairdo and Jason Biggs’s pie fornication. While the Zellners know that the lowbrow moments in their film are as sophomoric as they are hilarious, they are reflective enough to wonder why these rote aspecats of life remain so comically potent. 

Throughout their careers, the Zellners have shown an interest in human frailty when facing the natural world, whether through the harsh Minnesota winters of the masterful Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter or the wild west of their revisionist cowgirl epic, Damsel. However, with Sasquatch Sunset, the unrelenting danger of the natural world becomes pervasive. At times, the film seems like a slasher movie where the Big Bad lurks in everything from a toxic leaf to a downed tree. Yet, it’s also a nature where such threats aren’t sinister. The Sasquatch Quartet knows that they could be snuffed out at any second. They mourn their dead. But they have a natural drive to keep living, to search for a place where they can enjoy the small pleasures of their existence. 

Like their characters, the Zellners have a firm belief in reality over illusion, a great irony on display in a movie about sasquatches. They know that sincerity is the key to movie magic. It’s why they favor makeup and prosthetics for their actors over the motion capture we’ll see yet again in the latest sequel to the latest remake of The Planet of the Apes in a couple weeks. It’s also why the skunks, turtles, cougars, and porcupines who serve equally as harbingers of doom and hilarity aren’t the sloppy CGI stuff of the “live-action” The Lion King. In the end, Sasquatch Sunset provides one of the most achingly real and humanist stories to hit screens in quite some time. It is, indeed, an exercise in perseverance. But so is a life well lived–pratfalls and all.  JEROD HOLLYFIELD

Sasquatch Sunset is now playing in theaters.


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View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🪕 The Cox Family @ Station Inn, 9p, $25, Info
+ country / Americana group

🪕 Leftover Salmon & The Infamous Stringdusters @ Ryman Auditorium, 7p, $45+, Info
+ Colorado-based jamgrass pioneers

🪄 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in Concert @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $88+, Info

🪕 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info

🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info


The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week. For a complete list of upcoming releases, check out our 2024 Film Guide

Challengers Zendaya stars as a tennis prodigy whose career takes unexpected turns when she falls into a love triangle with two best friends on the circuit (The Crown’s Josh O’Connor and West Side Story’s Mike Faist). Regardless of how it pans out with audiences, director  Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria, Bones and All) continues his reign as Hollywood’s greatest risk taker. Now playing in theaters. 

Boy Kills World Late April is the perfect time for a post apocalyptic vigilante movie about a brooding mute (Bill Skarsgård) going after the family dynasty who slaughtered his clan and facing off against a homicidal cereal mascot. Now playing in theaters.

Kim’s Video New York’s seminal video store and the weird and winding tale of how its collection found its way into the hands of the Italian mob get the documentary treatment. Through Sunday at The Belcourt. 

Le Samouraï Jean-Pierre Melville’s stone-cold classic stars Alain Delon as a hitman who upholds the way of the samurai and exudes a cool that’s equal parts classic Hollywood and 60s French pop-culture. The type of movie 4K restorations were made for. Now playing at the Belcourt. 

Alien It’s Alien day, so have a gut-busting good time seeing the sci-fi classic on its 45th anniversary. Now playing in theaters.