My first film today was TRUMBO, directed by Jay Roach. For the first few minutes, I had to get over its visual style. It seemed a little cartoony, and the cinematography seemed more like television than film…but then it took its hold on me with a sharp screenplay and terrific performances. This is the story of Dalton Trumbo, one of the “Hollywood 10” who was Blacklisted during America’s fear of people affiliated with the Communist Party. The script is terrific, and the story is playful but serious – and Brian Cranston is wonderful in his Big performance (during the Q&A, the director noted that “Trumbo didn’t just talk, he performed.”). This is a film that had the packed house bursting into applause during certain key moments, and I think it’s a film that would certainly go over well with NEON audiences. We’ll see what the distributor has in mind (not to mention the crowded marketplace this fall)! (NEON favorite Helen Mirren plays Hedda Hopper – and she chews up the scenery with her wickedly upsetting material. One other supporting role that stood out was John Goodman’s. You’ll love him.)
DISORDER, directed by Alice Winocour, was the next film of the day. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts (a regular face at THE NEON – RUST AND BONE, THE DROP, and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD…and possibly THE DANISH GIRL this Fall), this is the story of a man with PTSD who is hired to work security for a wealthy family while the husband is away on business. This psychologic turned invasion thriller is marked with great performances, edge of your seat tension and incredible sound design.
Up next was MAGGIE’S PLAN, directed by Rebecca Miller. This seemed like new territory for a Rebecca Miller film to me. It might be in large part to Greta Gerwig’s presence, but it felt more like a Noah Baumbach/Woody Allen comedy. That said, this love triangle comedy starring Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore certainly has some wonderful moments (and Julianne Moore steals every scene she’s in as a Danish professor). The story is about a single woman (Gerwig) who is determined to have a baby and finds herself in a relationship with a married professor.
Lastly, I saw my favorite film of the festival so far – BROOKLYN, directed by John Crowley. In this lovely 1950’s period film, Saoirse Ronan plays a girls who moves from Ireland to Brooklyn in order to have a better life. We witness a wonderful transformation from reserved wallflower to a more confident, stunning woman. With a screenplay by Nick Hornby, this film works on all levels. The screenplay is great, the performances are wonderful, and the cinematography will make you swoon. Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson (seen earlier this year in EX MACHINA), Emory Cohen (who you might recognize from THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES) and director John Crowley were in attendance for an insightful Q&A.
After all my screenings, I met different people at a couple different locations for cocktails. It was a nice mix of business & pleasure to cap off the day.
More tomorrow. Thanks for reading!