Yesterday ended up being not as productive as I had planned. I only saw 3 films in their entirety…and the festival is officially starting to wear me out. The early morning line-up is dwindling. Some industry folks have already left town, and some of this drop-off is due merely to communal exhaustion.
First off, I saw a film called BELLE – a Fox Searchlight film (which means we’ll more than likely play it…but it won’t come out until next Spring) set in 18-century Britain about a mixed-race woman who is accepted by her affluent father and is brought up in high class society. Though not given all the same treatment due to her skin color and the fact that she is “illegitimate,” she is given a good education and is rather free-spirited. After asking lots of questions and meeting an idealistic son of the town vicar, she becomes instrumental in ending slavery in England. This film is beautifully shot and will be a crowd-pleaser – on par with films like YOUNG VICTORIA and THE DUCHESS.
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN is based on the true story of Charles Dickens and his secret relationship with a younger woman. Directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes, this is a lovely, intelligent film about a strong-willed woman facing her past. The lead character is played with a rich, layered performance by Felicity Jones (she had a small part in the under-appreciated HYSTERIA), and Sony Classics is positioning this film for a limited Christmas release – which makes it clear that they will push for some Oscar attention. The art direction, the costumes, and the performances are all lovely, and though the pacing is slow, lovers of mid-career Merchant Ivory films (like THE BOSTONIANS and MAURICE) will be delighted. Fiennes and Jones were present for a Q&A after the screening.
UNDER THE SKIN is the new, highly anticipated film by Jonathan Glazer – director of SEXY BEAST and BIRTH. (It’s been a decade since his last film.) Each of his films is distinctly different, and UNDER THE SKIN is partially experimental in form. The movie is about a young woman who stalks the streets of Scotland – looking for single, unattached men. The film is sexually charged and absolutely captivating. There’s very little dialog in this film, but the images and score create poetry. A lot more could be added in describing the plot to this film, but as the catalog states, “it’s best to allow UNDER THE SKIN to reveal itself.” Lead actress Scarlett Johansson and director Jonathan Glazer were in attendance for an insightful Q&A. I can’t remember the last time I saw such an abstract film with over 1500 people…it was a nice feeling…but it won’t be appreciated by the masses. (That said, there will certainly be a cult-like following for this film.) Watch the teaser to get a small sense of tone for this film.
Thanks for reading!