Things are certainly winding down here at TIFF. I screened 3 movies today (which means I have now seen 38 films at the festival) and then I did a little shopping and eventually met some friends out for drinks.
My first film of the day was JEREMIAH TERMINATOR LEROY, directed by Justin Kelly. First off, I think this is Kelly’s best work to date. Many critics and industry folks I’ve talked to mention the fact that several projects have been done on this very same subject…and thus they aren’t necessarily interested in seeing the story again. That said, I haven’t seen any of them, so I was interested. “In this captivating true story, a young woman (Kristen Stewart) spends years playing the public role of Jeremiah “Terminator” LeRoy, an enigmatic and celebrated literary persona created by her sister-in-law (Laura Dern).” This story is too bizarre to be true – but it is (and with MILLION LITTLE PIECES screening at this year’s festival, I guess it’s an interesting recurring theme – books that are later discovered to be untrue). Laura Dern is maniacal and fun to watch, and I ultimately think this is a solid film that could easily find an audience.
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN F DONOVAN, directed by Xavier Dolan, was next on my list. Critics have been savage regarding this next film from Dolan (the young director who has won awards at Cannes, made several films and still is in his 20s). This film is Dolan’s first English-language effort, and it has quite a cast. Here’s the mini TIFF synopsis: “Xavier Dolan’s highly anticipated drama about a young man’s calculated reassessment of his infamous, and ultimately disastrous, childhood correspondence with an American television star features an all-star cast, including Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Thandie Newton, Jacob Tremblay, and Ben Schnetzer.” This film was hung up in editing for a couple years, and I think I can see why. It has all the signature Dolan traits – and I have to admit I was entertained – I liked the story. That said, it seems like some of the actors are in different movies. Sarandon’s performance is so big and crazy that it doesn’t seem at all like the rest of the film…though Natalie Portman is a bit over-the-top, too. Kathy Bates is superb, and Michael Gambon’s short scene is lovely. The movie is currently too long, but I think it will eventually find distribution (at least via a streaming service).
COLD WAR, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, is the follow-up to Pawlikowski’s Oscar-winning film IDA (one of my favorites the year it played TIFF). “Pawel Pawlikowski’s formidable romantic drama features two musical performers in postwar Eastern Europe whose discontinuous love story is hindered by obstacles of time, space, and politics.” This film is full of absolutely gorgeous black and white cinematography (like IDA, the camera placement is brilliant), and the music (as well as overall sound design) is incredible. This was a great film to wind up my last full day of the festival.
I have one more film tomorrow morning before I pack my bags and head to the airport.
Thanks for reading,