I’m starting to slow down. A bit exhausted and a little sore (eyes, butt, etc.), it was time to scale back to four screenings today. Tomorrow will be my last day, and I’ll see even fewer because I have a big event on the books. Dayton-based producer Karri O’Reilly (who has worked on numerous feature-length films around the world including BLUE CAR and CAROL) has a film premiering tomorrow night – MY DAYS OF MERCY (which shot in Cincinnati) – and she has invited me to be part of the festivities. You’ll get all the latest before I head out of town on Saturday afternoon.
My first film for today was FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL, directed by Paul McGuigan. Starring Annette Bening and Jamie Bell, this is the story of movie star Gloria Grahame and the last of her May-December romances. At first, I found Bening’s accent and whispy delivery a little hard to take, but I eventually accepted it and fell for the chemistry of her and Jamie Bell (who is absolutely darling in this film). The film has a jumpy structure, and I fear that some of our regulars (who prefer linear storylines) might get a little confused regarding the timeline. Regardless, I think this is a film that could do well for us – especially if Bening gets an Oscar nomination.
MUDBOUND, directed by Dee Rees (PARIAH), was my second film of the day. This film will get a very limited release (NYC and LA) and then go straight to streaming service on Netflix…which is too bad – because it works really well on a big screen. That said, I think it will still be a big award contender this year. With multiple protagonists/narrators, this is the story of two families in the deep South during World War II. The racial tensions are heavy, and the stories are so well developed – a white family and a black family are trying to do the best they can for their families as they farm their land and try to encourage their children to excel. This film, though set 80 years ago, is very timely…and it will break your heart.
DARKEST HOUR, directed by Joe Wright, has a lot of Oscar buzz for Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. This is a film about the weeks leading up to Dunkirk…which has been a very popular theme this year (CHURCHILL, THEIR FINEST, DUNKIRK, and some television too). This film is very polished and has some really wonderful moments, but I don’t completely agree with the Oscar buzz. Is it a complete transformation? Absolutely! But I think his performance borders on camp – as some of his choices are very hammy and singsongy. So I’m guessing I’ll be in the minority on this one.
MARROWBONE, directed by Sergio Sanchez (THE ORPHANAGE), was my final film of the day. This ghost story/thriller is in the vein of THE OTHERS and SIXTH SENSE – but is clearly made for a more tweenage crowd. It’s the story of a group of kids who lock themselves away from the world after the death of their mother. With lovely photography and successful moments intended to make your jump, it works on a certain level…but the story too conveniently leaves out important plot points so it can reveal them later – which feels like cheating. I also felt like some of the revelations were trite while others were genuinely fresh.
Only one day of screenings left. In some respects, those first movies I saw exactly a week ago seem so far away…but it also seems like I just got here yesterday.
I’m going to try and get a good night of sleep so I don’t scare people with bloodshot eyes tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,