My first film of my final day of screenings was PLANETARIUM – directed by Rebecca Zlotwoski and starring Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp. This is the story of two sisters who are mediums living in France and their relationship with a film producer. Though the concept is intriguing (“sometimes you have to turn off the lights to see something” was an early quote that had promise) and I liked moments of the film, this was the biggest mess I saw at TIFF. I don’t know what happened, but about an hour in, I felt like there were several films happening at once – and not in a good way. There were also a couple moments where Portman let out laughs that seemed like she was becoming completely unhinged…not her character, but Portman herself. Attempts at “kinda sexy/kinda creepy” were in full swing – but the results were mostly just on the creepy end of the spectrum, and I eventually couldn’t wait for it to end. Here’s a trailer…but you’ll have no idea what’s in store.
THE SECRET SCRIPTURE, directed by Jim Sheridan, was my second film of the day. It was also Rooney Mara’s third film in this year’s festival. Though Rooney was the star of the film, it was Vanessa Redgrave who shined. This is the story of an older woman in a mental institution who has keep a journal in between the lines and in the margins of her Bible. One of the first quotes we get from her journal is “I did not kill my child.” Through a series of flashbacks, we see her as a younger woman in the 1940’s. A true beauty, she turns heads everywhere she goes, and people in the town are quick to call her a whore…including the town’s priest who is clearly infatuated with her. Though I felt the story got a little muddled, it’s ultimately beautifully told and will easily find fans. The Q&A with Jim Sheridan was a treat. With Irish accent seemed to forgive all of his foul-mouthed responses, and the stories of working with actors (Vanessa Redgrave and the children from IN AMERICA in particular) were fantastic and full of insight. There’s no trailer for this film yet, but here’s a still.
My last film of the fest was THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, directed by Juan Carlos Medina and starring Bill Nighy & Olivia Cooke (ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL). In Victorian-era London, a detective has been given his first murder case – a case that has the city on edge as a serial killer is performing more and more heinous acts. This beautifully styled period piece is a far cry from what you’d expect given the costumes and set-pieces. With lots of blood and gory details of the crimes, it’s at times unsettling but ultimately rather predictable. There are some moments that should be big…but the materials isn’t there…so the decision was to over-score them – which actually ends up detracting from the scenes in question. I wanted to like this film more, but I came out feeling it was really quite average. There’s no trailer for this film yet, so here’s a still. (Upon looking for images from the film, I found out that Alan Rickman was originally supposed to play the part of the detective – which would have added a different level of eeriness.)
And so my screenings have come to an end.
I saw 30 films (not counting the two I walked out of), I met several great folks in the industry, I saw numerous big stars and directors, and I ate a lot of poutine. In all, it was an incredible trip.
So here’s the wrap-up. (All categories have films listed in the order in which I saw them.) My 3 favorites were: MOONLIGHT, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and LA LA LAND. Close behind were JULIETA, LOVING and SOUVENIR (BIRTH OF A NATION would be on this list, but I actually saw it several weeks ago and not at TIFF). Some really good films that are 100% worth viewing but didn’t make it to the very top of my list are MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, FRANTZ, LION, A UNITED KINGDOM, THEIR FINEST, MAUDIE, PATERSON, JACKIE, and UNKNOWN GIRL. For the other 15 films and how I felt about them, you’ll have to back-track through my blog.
Thanks so much for reading, and I appreciate your continued interest in THE NEON.
All the best,