Hello Daytonians & Film Lovers!
Thanks for checking in to see how everything went with my first day of screenings. I got up early and was in the Industry Box Office line by 6:55…and there were still several people ahead of me. This line starts a little earlier each year, and some folks have joked about possibly camping out. I’m glad to report that I did get the tickets I desired for Saturday – including the premiere of THE DANISH GIRL.
After grabbing tickets, I went to my first screening – HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT, directed by Kent Jones. This is wonderful, and film lovers will delight. Using the famous book written by French New Wave darling Francois Truffaut as a launching pad, this film explores that famous interview and is such the careers of both Hitch and Truffaut. We get interviews from contemporary directors who have great relationships with the book (Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Oliver Assayas and more), and numerous sound bites from the week-long interview back in the 60’s. Hearing Hitchcock talk about his work will delight cinema theorists…especially when he talks about what’s really happening during a certain scene in VERTIGO. (There is no trailer available for this film yet…just one of these famous stills.)
Next up, I saw 45 YEARS, directed by Andrew Haigh. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, this is a film about a couple preparing for their 45th Wedding Anniversary party. Early in the film, Courtenay’s character receives a letter that the body of a former girlfriend has been found in the ice (she died in an accident while hiking by a glacier decades before). The news shakes him to his core, and his wife begins to take offense that he still seems to care so deeply about someone else. Full of some wonderful performances and always aware of the passing of time, this film makes you realize how quickly the foundation can be shaken from below your feet. The sound design (and lack of score except for incidental music) was particularly interesting. Though still a little “flummoxed” with the ending, I ultimately like this quiet, slow-paced film.
Before going back the apartment to get ready for Opening Night, I saw one more film – EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE, directed by Wim Wenders. After Wenders made PINA (one of my favorite documentaries ever) in 3D, he decided that he would continue using that format for narrative film. It’s certainly interesting to see a film where 3D is used as an artistic tool instead of an effect-driven gimmick. That said, this film was all over the map. Meandering, overscored, and dotted with some bombastic moments and a weak screenplay, I found it difficult to care too much about the characters.
Last up, I went the official Opening Night film – DEMOLITION, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (director of DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and WILD). TIFF has a reputation for programming “not-so-great” films for Opening Night (THE JUDGE, SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL, etc.). But tonight’s film was quite good…perhaps the best they’ve programmed over the past decade. This is the a about a man who seems to be unable to feel anything after the death of his wife (she dies in a car accident that leaves her husband unharmed). Jake Gyllenhaal gives a wonderful performance as a man who is incapable of feeling emotions. Driven by work, he is otherwise disconnected with the life he’s living. Though there are moments written into the script that seem more driven by potential audience pleasure than character development, I rather liked this film.
Glenn Kiser, a director & friend who visited Dayton for The Dayton LGBT Film Festival a few years ago, invited me to the Opening Night screening and Party. We had a great time catching up and the party was quite a sight (“people watching” is quite fun in this scenario, and complimentary booze certainly helps to make things merrier).
It’s 1:30am, and I need to be up in 5 hours.
All the best,