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!