In the past few days, we’ve made some big decisions as to our plans for the next several weeks. Some of our upcoming films have local connections, some are certain to be best picture contenders, and many are full of stars we love to see on screen. One thing is clear about each – it’s Oscar season!
Today was my last full day of movies, and it was a strong selection.
HONEY BOY was my first film of the day – directed by Alma Har’el and written by Shia LaBeouf (did you see his performance in THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON at THE NEON over the last few weeks?). “Actor and screenwriter Shia LaBeouf mines his own life in this confessional collaboration with director Alma Har’el, about the stormy childhood and early adult years of an actor struggling to reconcile with his abusive father (played by LaBeouf himself).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This tough story of the “bad boy” actor coming to terms with his upbringing is at times hard to watch – but certainly worth the ride. Performances across the board are strong – from the flashback scenes starring Noah Jupe (who is really fantastic) and LaBeouf to the more “current” scenes starring Lucas Hedges.
ROCKS – the title refers to the nickname of the main character – was up next. “British director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Suffragette) returns with this intimate, honest portrait of a teenage girl who suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I love when a film that is only minorly on my radar ends up blowing me away. I love this little gem. So rarely do we get stories about young black girls – and this one is strong and runs the emotional gamut. It’s honest, fresh, frustrating, complicated (though simply told) and full of life – sometimes jubilant and often heartbreaking. I hope this film gets a stateside release.
HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, my 31st film of the festival, was my last film of the day. “A working-class teenager (Beanie Feldstein) tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic, in this unconventional coming-of-age story based on British author Caitlin Moran’s semiautobiographical novel.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I felt like this film didn’t go over as well with the audience while I was loving it. There is a lot of really funny material – particularly in the first hour – that I felt others weren’t appreciating the way I did (you know that feeling when you’re the only one laughing). The dialog is sharp, and Feldstein is brilliant. But what starts as a charming and “innocent” film treads into adult territory as the main character is thrust into a grown-up atmosphere (which means the rating will keep the potential tween audience from seeing it theatrically). Sadly, as the film progresses, it starts to go in a rather predictable direction. That said, I felt like the film repaired some of its missteps by the end, and ultimately I found it quite satisfying. I left the film a much bigger fan of Beanie Feldstein. There is no trailer for this film yet…but here’s a little interview piece.
I met up with a couple friends for a last hurrah in the city and then came back to begin packing my bags. I have one more film early tomorrow morning, and then I’ll head to the airport.
Thanks for reading!
Hello Most Metro,
Things are winding down at TIFF. I’ve seen 28 films so far, and I have 1.25 days left. Today seemed like a “minor” day. Nothing extraordinary…but lots of tear to start off the day.
DADS, a sweet documentary, was my first film of the day. “Director Bryce Dallas Howard teams up with her father, Ron Howard, to explore contemporary fatherhood through anecdotes and wisdom from famous funnymen such as Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, and more.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This little film has a fantastic opening sequence – it’s funny, poignant, inclusive, and provokes reflection and introspection and brought me to tears right off the bat. There’s a lot to love about this little film, but it does lose some steam in the third act. (Am I getting old and tired, or do more and more films need recuts?) There is a lot of priceless material here, and the topic is valuable.
COMING HOME AGAIN was my next film. “A Korean American man cares for his ailing mother while trying to master her traditional cooking in the latest from Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club), based on Chang-rae Lee’s New Yorker short story.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film starts out in a languid manner – lots of lingering shots without much happening (except everything is happening). A young man is caring for his mother who is dying of stomach Cancer, and the days stretch on with little happening – thus the pace. But eventually some old wounds start to surface, and some additional players enter the scene – and the performances are not of the same caliber. In the last 25 minutes, I felt like the film went off its quiet rails and not at all in a good way. I don’t see much box office life for this one.
LYREBIRD, my last film of the day, just got picked up by Sony Classics. “In Dan Friedkin’s directorial debut, a soldier and member of the Dutch resistance (Claes Bang) investigates stolen art in the wake of the Second World War, including a Vermeer sold to the Nazis by a flamboyant painter (Guy Pearce).” (taken from TIFF catalog) Based on a true story, this movie goes big (at least the score and some of the performances do) and the audience seemed to like it. The mystery at the first act’s core was an easy solve, and the movie changes genres a couple times. Though there were aspects of the story I appreciated, my final response was more of a shoulder shrug.
Thanks for checking in.
Tomorrow is my last full day of movies, and then I need to pack my bags…I head home after one movie on Saturday morning.
I got to sleep in today because my first film started later than usual, and I was glad I got an extra hour in bed. Here’s why: Last night had me attending my first true parties of the festival. First was a gathering with lots of LGBT industry folks – people in PR, critics, film buyers, distributors, programers, etc. It was a nice event, and I saw a handful of people I’ve met before and was introduced to a handful more – these parties are a lot about networking, so I’m glad I went. I was a little baffled that it was after 1:30 when I decided to leave, but upon arriving at my apartment, there was a party for A24 right across the street…and a friend had put my name on the list…so I had to check it out. Though it was “winding down,” it was still a pretty terrific party. I saw several people I knew (including some crossover from the earlier LGBT party), recognized numerous celebrities from films I’ve screened (WAVES, HARRIET, JOJO RABBIT, and more), and then I saw Jon Hamm. (swoon) This party was super casual and people didn’t seem to have their guards up…what a fun way to wrap up a great day.
MY ZOE was my first film of Day #7. “A recently divorced mother is driven to extremes in this seventh film by writer-director-actor Julie Delpy — a suspense drama unlike anything she has done before.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film goes in a direction you’re not anticipating. It’s a very straight-forward drama – well-acted, solid script, etc…and then you start to realize some new-fangled, sci-fi technology…but maybe it’s not so sci-fi. This film will spur a lot of interesting dialog. (So many films at this year’s festival are about divorce and the strains they induce.)
THE KINGMAKER was my next film. “Acclaimed documentarian Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles) aims her lens at Filipino politician and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who, despite disgrace, remains unbowed and enmeshed in her nation’s politics.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Imelda Marcos is a great subject. She’s funny, charming, charitable, and fumbles a bit. She seems like the crazy, rich aunt you never knew you had….until the truth starts pouring out. Greenfield set out to make a very different film, but the story you see unfolded before her, and she couldn’t stop filming. What was supposed to take a year or so took five years to make, and you simply can’t believe it. It’s political corruption like you’ve never seen…and the gullible public who seem to keep inviting it in. This is a cautionary tale! During the very interesting Q&A, Greenfield said that Imelda would answer every question she ever asked except one. She wouldn’t answer “How do you feel about Donald Trump?” I’m so glad my friend Charlie suggested I see this film. He’s the person who suggested I see FREE SOLO and BIGGEST LITTLE FARM last year…and look what happened to those!
Though HUSTLERS doesn’t initially seem like a film I’d be screening at TIFF, a critic friend told me that it’s much better than the trailer alludes…and that JLo could garner an Oscar nomination. So, I found a way to squeeze it in…only to arrive and the venue and find out that the projector won’t start due to an AC issue. This just goes to show that no venue is surefire – technical issues happen everywhere. Thus I’ll have to wait and see HUSTLERS when it gets a theatrical release. “Inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article that went viral, Hustlers follows a savvy crew of former strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Stiles.” (taken from TIFF catalog)
LUCY IN THE SKY was my last film of the day. “After returning to earth, an obsessive astronaut (Natalie Portman) begins to question her place in the universe — including her relationships with her gentle husband (Dan Stevens) and her alluring crewmate (Jon Hamm) — in the debut feature from accomplished television showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion).” (taken from TIFF catalog) During the first few minutes, I liked what I was seeing. The sound design (and especially lack of sound) was great, the idea of someone returning from space and not knowing how to reintegrate was an interesting idea…but things got muddy pretty quickly. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mind frame, but at the end of the day, I think this film is a mess. More and more directors are playing with aspect ratio these days (though never as well as Xavier Dolan or Wes Anderson), and though some scenes had motivation for a change in ratio, the director admitted that sometimes he just wanted to play. And it shows – the shifts simply don’t make sense. And there’s more that doesn’t make sense. At one moment, when Portman is purchasing items in a hardware department, she reaches over and grabs a wig…duct tape, hammer, box cutter, wig…makes no sense! I realize this film is about a woman in the midst of an existential crisis, but I ultimately didn’t care about anyone. The accent is bad, the Dorothy Hamill haircut is bad, some of the green screen work is bad. I rolled my eyes and shook my head numerous times during this film….and I’m ultimately sad that such a lackluster film has happened to such a great distributor.
Only 2+ more days.
Off to bed.
Thanks for reading,
I’m now well beyond the half-way mark, and today’s 4 screenings took my grand total to 22 films so far…this means I’ll certainly hit the 30+ mark for this year’s TIFF.
AERONAUTS was my first movie of the day. “The Theory of Everything costars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite for Tom Harper’s high-flying tale about a 19th-century scientist and hot-air balloonist making altitudinal and meteorological history.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This thrilling adventure is a little too “easy,” but it is also rather fun. That said, I can’t imagine watching it on a television screen at home – the thrills are best felt on a big screen with a great sound system. Redmayne and Jones are charming as can be, and though the costumes are sometimes a little “too much,” I felt like there’s certainly an audience who will revel in this tale – and cheer for the bold and brave female character in the central role.
Though it’s getting a wide release that won’t include us at THE NEON, I had to go see THE GOLDFINCH – based on one of my favorite novels of the past several years. “Theo Decker (Ansel Elgort) was only 13 when his mother died in a museum bombing, sending him on an odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption. Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day: a priceless painting of a bird chained to its perch, The Goldfinch. The latest from John Crowley (Brooklyn) is based on Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Though I felt like the film was off to a great start – making a lot of great decisions, this movie is one that actually needs more time. We meet too many characters and never get to know them…which in turn makes the material lose its heart. We never get too attached. The source material is more intended for a mini-series than a 140 minute feature film, and I’m sad to say that I don’t think this film will go too far.
The new documentary THE CAPOTE TAPES was my third screening of the day. “Newly discovered interviews with friends of Truman Capote made by Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton invigorate this fascinating documentary on the author (and socialite) behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, while situating Capote in the 20th-century American literary canon.” (taken from TIFF catalog) There is so much to love about this film – because at its center is the brilliant, hysterical, and tormented Truman Capote. The interviews are divine, but the piece starts to lose steam in the last 30 minutes. Though there’s not much room in the “marketplace” for an hour-long documentary (too long for a short and too short for a feature), it would be a much stronger piece at 1 hour. That said, there’s so much good material here…but unfortunately, the director had to use cutaways because evidently there aren’t enough photos to put on screen during the tape recorded interviews…so he resorts to tracking shots of dinner plates, silverware and crystal goblets – thus so many visuals are uninteresting and do nothing for the story. Luckily, interviews are great – so I stuck with it…and feel I know Truman a bit better.
The premiere of HARRIET, the very first feature film ever made about Harriet Tubman, was my last film of the night. “Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons’ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.” (taken from TIFF catalog) From seeing the trailer, I was a little fearful that this film was going to be too polished and not raw enough. And though I think it could still use a little more indie grit, the story did indeed envelop me. Kasi Lemmons explained that they decided not to use the often seen violent tropes of other slavery stories, they wanted to focus on this movie being about freedom. Though we know some of what characters have suffered, we aren’t forced to watch it as with other recent films about slavery like 12 YEARS A SLAVE or BIRTH OF A NATION. Instead, we get an adventure film with a true woman – a human being, not a super hero – who saves lives and should inform us all. Though there were some devices that I thought wore a little thin, I still was completely invested in the story and loved learning more about this American Hero…and having many from the cast do a Q&A was incredibly insightful and all the more powerful. This film really got the crowd going, and I think it will be well received in Dayton, too.
I’m getting this done a bit earlier than usual…and heading out to a party or two tonight. My first screening isn’t until Noon tomorrow, so sleeping in is a possibility.
Thanks for checking in!
Hello Most Metro!
Today was my fullest day so far. I’m so glad I had an auxiliary battery for my phone.
MARRIAGE STORY was my first film of the day. “Academy Award nominee Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up, and a family staying together, stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, and co-stars Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Within the first five minutes of this film, I wrote “It’s incredible” in my notes. The script is fantastic, the performances are right on, and material is taxingly honest, and the supporting cast are lovely additions to the mix. At one point, I felt like “this is getting to be too long” (a feeling I’ve had numerous times this year), but then I reconciled it by thinking “getting a divorce is tedious and insufferable – so maybe that’s the point…perhaps it suits the material to be a little too drawn out. In a very clever marketing strategy, there are actually 2 trailers for MARRIAGE STORY…watch both in one sitting below.
After my first screening, I went to a delightful hour+ event in which Allison Janney was interviewed about her career – along with clips that illustrated some of her cinematic touchstones. This was a pretty hot ticket, and Allison’s mother Macy was the person who scored the ticket for me. In the coming days, I believe that TIFF will post this interview on-line, and I’ll make sure to share the link with you if I find it. Allison is funny, smart, gracious and a great storyteller – it was a delight to hear some of her personal history.
After listening to Allison, I got to see her new film – BAD EDUCATION. “Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano star in this fact-based dramedy directed by Cory Finley (Thoroughbreds), about an infamous school-larceny scandal that rocked Long Island in the early aughts.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film is pretty terrific (though I questioned some of the motivation for the queer content)! The story’s upsetting subject matter is handled in such an interesting fashion and Jackman’s performance is unlike any I’ve seen him give before. Janney is also in top form, and I think this film will get snatched up in no time. Below is the image being used with this film…there is no trailer yet.
THE TRUTH – with two leading ladies I adore – was next on my list. “Acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (Shoplifters, Like Father, Like Son) first film made outside his native Japan stars Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as a mother and daughter in the film industry whose professional collaboration triggers long-buried resentments.” (taken from TIFF catalog) My “review” of this film might be a little unfair because I was a bit tired when I walked into this screening. The first half hour was pretty wonderful, but then my eyes got very heavy and I fought to stay awake. Ultimately, I kept feeling like I wanted the pace to pick up – but maybe that was just my exhaustion speaking…or maybe it was a little too slow. At the end of the day, I think it’s a nice film…but it won’t get the roll-out that SHOPLIFTERS did for this director.
TWO POPES was my last film of the day. Fernando Meirelles and Jonathan Pryce and others from the team introduced the film, and Meirelles said that the reason he likes Pope Francis so much is because he wants to build bridges when so many leaders want to build walls. Of course that deservedly got a huge round of applause. “In 2013, progressive incoming Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) and conservative outgoing Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) debate the best path forward for the Catholic Church, in this surprisingly funny chamber piece from Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles (City of God).” (taken from TIFF catalog) That description kinda sums up the film…but not really. It’s not just a chamber piece, it’s a pretty big, fully realized film with two incredible central performances. I’m not a Catholic, thus I can never understand the ways of the church, but I’ve always felt like the regality surrounding the papacy seems to contradict some of the church’s messaging…and it appears that Pope Francis holds a similar sentiment. This film made me appreciate him more. Through flashbacks and archival footage, we get a much bigger picture than just two Popes chatting. Though the film loses a little steam in its third act, I think audiences will nonetheless adore it. I hope Netflix does a theatrical release – more than just a couple cinemas. (I personally know many people who don’t subscribe to Netflix who would love to see this movie.)
It’s time to call it a night. Four more films are on the docket for tomorrow.
Thanks for checking in!
Hello NEON Fans,
A lot came together today. Tickets for tomorrow fell into line and I squeezed in a film that I wasn’t anticipating.
My first film of day #4 was A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. “A jaded journalist (Matthew Rhys) reluctantly accepts an Esquire assignment to profile the children’s television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), and encounters a profoundly empathetic world view that changes his life forever.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film, though a little uneven, works in mysterious ways. I found the opening to be rather upsetting – as though there was a tongue-in-cheek approach to the reverence of Mister Rogers. Were they praising him while slightly mocking him? My initial thought was “this isn’t working”…and then the film strikes. I saw this film with a jaded press/industry audience, and there were numerous signs of sniffles and crying…and even a splattering of applause at the end (something that almost never happens at industry screenings). Tom Hanks is wonderful, and Heller (DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL and CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? both played at THE NEON) works some magic (though it certainly lacks some of the edginess that her earlier indies displayed). One really nice touch was a cameo (blink and you might miss it) of Fred’s wife in a restaurant scene…she arrives at just the right moment. Even though the Focus documentary about Rogers was our highest grossing film last year, being a big studio film, this one likely won’t make it to THE NEON.
Next up, I managed to wiggle in a screening of GREED. “Festival favourite Michael Winterbottom skewers the fast-fashion industry in this scathing farce about the grotesque inequality between a retail billionaire (Steve Coogan) and the female garment workers who toil on his trendy clothing line.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film is problematic. It’s a farce. The set-up is comedy, and the writing is scathingly good…perhaps too good. Instead of laughs, I found most of it cringe-worthy. The main character’s true lack of compassion seemed a little too probable – and thus quite hard to laugh at. That said, the film supplied a great deal of education as to how someone in this particular industry can make money – all legally (though drenched with moral irresponsibility). Title cards at the end of the film provided statistics as to how much money people in the textile industry make…and how the rich keep getting richer. It’s such an interesting piece on so many levels – and perhaps the only way to get people to see the statistics is to lure them with a comedy…but I was hardly laughing. (That said, there are some really great moments and material here.) There’s no trailer yet, but here’s a clip.
1982 “During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her, while his teachers — on different sides of the political divide — try to mask their fears, in this poignant debut feature from Oualid Mouaness.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I went to this film namely because it stars Nadine Labaki – a director and actress I greatly admire. (We’ve shown three films she has directed, including last year’s Oscar nominee CAPERNAUM.) This film is a slow burn, but when the war keeps creeping closer and closer, it becomes rather terrifying. There’s a strange device regarding Wissam and his drawings that I didn’t really feel was needed, but the performances and tone are strong.
Before my last film, I came back to the apartment and caught up on some NEON-related items and then I stopped by a gathering for The Art House Convergence. I ran into a couple friends there, but I had to quickly scurry to the Princess of Wales Theatre.
JOJO RABBIT was my last film of the day. This was the world premiere, and many people from the cast and crew were there. “Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) directs a riotous cast — including Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis — in this daring, touching, and comedic satire about a young German boy who discovers a Jewish girl hiding in his home and consults with his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film has raised a lot of eyebrows. I’ve heard numerous people chatting about how this film shouldn’t be working…it’s irresponsible…with sentiments the likes of “How can we have a comedy about Hitler Youth?” “How can Hitler be funny?” “This is sacred ground and we shouldn’t be laughing.” But satire about Hitler has been around for decades – from Chaplin’s GREAT DICTATOR to Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS. And one interesting fact is that Waititi (the director) is Jewish, and he’s the one playing the absurd imaginary Hitler. This film does tread a very risky line, and some may find it in poor taste. But ultimately, it’s a film about family and realizing that hate is a learned behavior. Waititi talked about how in 1933, Hitler came to power and little by little, he made changes. People realized the changes weren’t good…but they didn’t seem “that bad.” But he continued to make more and more changes…and citizens never revolted – they allowed the changes to happen until it was too late. Waititi believes that we have to find different ways to tell these cautionary tales – because we need to learn from mistakes. The production design, costumes, photography and performances are all fantastic, and this little film is an off-color gem.
Tomorrow is quite a full day.
Thanks for checking in,
It was a very full day!
My first film this morning was BLACKBIRD. “A terminally ill mother (Susan Sarandon) invites her family to their country house for one final gathering, but tensions quickly boil over between her two daughters (Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska), in Roger Michell’s (My Cousin Rachel, Le Week-End, Venus, Hyde Park On Hudson, Tea With The Dames – all films that played at THE NEON) remake of the award-winning 2014 Danish film Silent Heart.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film is a powerhouse of female talent. It strikes some wonderful chords and will be a film that will invoke numerous important discussions…but there were some over-the-top moments and on-the-nose dialog that kept me from loving it. That said, I ran into two women on the street after the screening, and they absolutely loved it. Am I a little jade? Perhaps. (There is no preview for this film yet.)
HOPE GAP was my second film of the day. “A together-forever couple (Annette Bening and Bill Nighy) unpack the many complications of splitting up, in Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson’s razor-sharp drama. Featuring brilliant performances from Bill Nighy and four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening, this exquisite drama from writer-director William Nicholson will resonate with anyone who has ever navigated the choppy waters of long-term love.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Now here’s a film for adults. The two central performances are incredible, and each side of this divorce-in-the-works will have you cringing. And the fact that their son gets used as a pawn is all the more upsetting. With lovely photography, colorful characters and a great script, I could see this film having a life with us at THE NEON.
LA BELLE EPOQUE was up next. “In this high-concept comedy from Nicolas Bedos (Mr. & Mrs. Adelman), a luddite cartoonist suffering an existential crisis hires a VR company to recreate a happier time in his marriage, as he tries to reconcile the golden-hued past with an inescapable digital present.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I haven’t seen anything this fresh and original since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. This wonderful film is a brilliant love story wrapped in a comedy. It’s truly French, and I could have stuck with it for hours. The performances are on point (I want more Fanny Ardant), and the dialog is fantastic. This is the first film of the festival where inventive editing has truly stood out. This is a gem.
I met up for a quick cocktail (and charcuterie board) with a friend and colleague from Fox Searchlight. In addition to catching up about life in general, we talked about the upcoming slate of films from Searchlight and all the films we’re seeing at the festival. I love this kind of one-on-one with someone I like and admire so much in the business. After our meeting, I came back to my apartment and typed for a bit…and then I met up with some Daytonian friends who were at TIFF as part of a “bucket list” experience. They had just wrapped up 5 films over the last 36 hours and I was about to head into my next screening…so our meeting was brief but sweet.
WAVES was my last film of the day, and there’s a lot of buzz around this film. “Cracks begin to show in the perfect façade of a young athlete’s life, in this palpable and unexpected drama from Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night, Krisha).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This beautifully yet unsettling film has so much going for it, and I think critics will truly take notice. The story is accessible and we root for the characters and cringe whenever they make poor decisions. There are so many interesting choices. The aspect ratio changes several times throughout the film, and the storytelling shifts focus, too. So much is working for this film, and the languid pace is quite lovely. That said, I would personally like to trim it down. Currently at 135 minutes, I wish it was more like 115/120. Unfortunately, I felt like the projection at this particular venue was too dark. Having just seen the trailer online (below) there was a more interesting and vibrant film under the surface…but projecting the film on an IMAX screen with a “dim” bulb created a hurdle that wasn’t necessary.
After my last screening, I met up with some industry folks at a casual gathering. People from Magnolia Pictures, Netflix, IFC and a couple PR firms were gathered at a quaint restaurant called the The Town Crier. It was a nice cap to a full day of films, and now I’m ready for bed.
Thanks for checking in!
Hello Dayton NEON Fans!
Today was my second day, and I’m calling it an early night…in bed by 11:00. It has been a wonderful and emotional day. I was delighted to see my all-time favorite director just steps away from my seat. (This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Almodovar, but it’s been several years…and tonight’s film will be a stand-out for the festival as well as the year.) I quickly snapped the picture to the left.
RADIOACTIVE was my first film of Day #2. “Based on Lauren Redniss’s award-winning graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi’s (Persepolis) biopic stars Rosamund Pike as two-time Nobel Prize–winning scientist Marie Curie, highlighting the groundbreaking discoveries she made with her husband, Pierre (Sam Riley).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film gave a great historical background on Curie and posed a lot of interesting questions (through the use of flash-forwards to historical nuclear events) as to whether her discoveries and work were “for good” or ultimately the destruction of societies. Though not without some wonderful moments that were both enlightening and even powerful, this film seemed rather clunky with its attempts to keep it “fresh and modern” while telling a very true story about an incredible woman.
VARDA BY AGNES “The last film from the late French New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda (Faces Places) traces her legendary career and life with characteristic humour and vibrant energy, presenting a portrait of an artist who lived through her films and revealed the extraordinary in the ordinary.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film, largely assembled from numerous lectures/master classes from recent years, is a long-form, cinematic essay as to how and why Varda worked. It’s full of wonderful moments, incredible artistry and ultimately a realization that there’s so much more of her work for me to discover. There was a lovely post-screening discussion with three women working in the industry…one being Lulu Wang, director of THE FAREWELL – who had incredibly insightful and inspiring things to say about Agnes and particularly THE GLEANERS AND I (a film that truly resonates with me, too). Though I don’t see this film getting a traditional release, I would love to bring it for a couple special screenings. The still photo below the trailer is a pic I took during the talk-back.
PAIN AND GLORY “An aging filmmaker (Antonio Banderas) grapples with an uncertain future and the circumstances that shaped his successful but troubled life, in Pedro Almodóvar’s self-reflexive consideration of identity and desire.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This gorgeous new film starring Antonio Banderas as well as other Almodovar favorites like Penelope Cruz Cecilia Roth, is a true winner – with the trademark Almodovar touches like a great score and incredible production design. It’s about recalling childhood, dealing with physical and mental pain, and the return of an old lover. I got emotional several times during this film, and I think we’ll be seeing it on some level this Oscar season. Almodovar and Banderas were in attendance. They gave a very moving and fun curtain speech and then returned to the stage after the screening for an insightful Q&A. For various reasons, there were tears throughout the evening, and Almodovar is always a charming and appreciative festival guest. I’m so glad I got to see him in conjunction with this wonderful film – which received a very long and heartfelt standing ovation.
I’ve got a few films tomorrow and will meet up with a couple different folks throughout the day. Looking forward to perhaps one more night of good sleep before some of the crazy long nights begin.
Thanks for tuning in!