Sundance 2023: Fairyland, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Magazine Dreams | Festivals and awards

The beating heart of “Still” is of course Fox himself, who reads some of his books as narration and answers Guggenheim’s questions. He reveals, opens and never gives pity. There’s a shot early in the movie where Fox falls on a sidewalk, and for a moment I wished it wasn’t there. I didn’t want to see one of my childhood movie heroes in that state and thought maybe it should have been cut. And then Fox stamps the stage with a brilliant one-liner that produced a massive laugh in the crowd. He is always an entertainer, even when he is having a hard time. And his willingness to share that struggle and push through it is an empowering thing of beauty, as is the relationship with Tracy Pollan which really elevates the final act of this film.

Fox said in the Q&A after that he’s overwhelmed by how lucky he is to have such a beautiful family, and it’s one of the most moving displays of support I’ve seen from a doctor in a long time. Hearing Fox explain what his wife and children mean to him is simply amazing. There is something ironic about a star who rose to fame on a show called “Family Ties” discovering that family was what would be most important to him in the end.

While I expect audiences to lap up “Still,” there was visible backlash in the crowd that watched the premiere of the brutal “Magazine Dreams,” a drama that is a bit ofTaxi driver,” a little bit of “Pumping Iron,” and a lot of the mega-talented Jonathan Majors. The star of “The last black man in San Francisco” and “Creed III” gives his all to this film, fearlessly throwing himself into a role that demands more than most actors are capable of giving. It is a disturbing journey into the mind of a man who has shaped his body with anger even as he has destroyed his soul. It’s a big ask to spend more than two hours with someone so mentally unstable that it feels like almost every scene could end in an act of violence, but Elijah Bynum has made a film designed to push viewers to a place of toxicity that makes them uncomfortable. It certainly does that and then some.

Majors plays Killian Maddox, a bodybuilder who dreams of being on magazine covers as his idol. When he’s not writing “Stan”-esque letters to the king of bodybuilding, he’s tending to his grandfather or pining for a local cashier (Haley Bennett). He spends almost all his free time working on his body, which includes not only weightlifting, but a regular steroid regimen that has caused his health to teeter on the edge of a fatal diagnosis. He can’t cut his body to remove the tumors steroids have left on his liver because the scar would hurt his career. And then there’s Killian’s anger. Feeling cheated by life, he lashes out, leading to a series of violent, disturbing exchanges as the film threatens to descend into grave tragedy.

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