After my successful turn in line this morning, I was off to my first screening – MISS YOU ALREADY, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Many people refer to this type of a film as a “chick flick.” Though there are many films that get this label, there are a handful of these guilty pleasures that I have absolutely adored over the years…and I was hoping to find a new BEACHES today. Hardwicke takes the story of two best friends since childhood (Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore) and gives it the energy and style of her film THIRTEEN. There’s lots of crazy camera moves and a series of montages in an attempt to keep it fresh, but I feel that style detracts from this already overlong story. Though there are certain elements of this film that work (namely Collette), I was mostly disappointed. However, I was still moved by the ending – so I still had some sort of emotional attachment.
I had only planned on 4 films today, but when I had a window of time, I snuck in another film instead of a nap. SLEEPING GIANT, by first-time Canadian director Andrew Cividino, is a lakeside summertime coming-of-age story about a teenage boy of privilege and his friendship with two much rougher boys living with their grandmother for the season. It’s pretty early on in the film that we feel the powder keg sensibility of what’s in store, and the story becomes a little predictable. But the cadence of the contemporary youthful dialog is just right and the boys’ performances are all strong. What’s especially lovely about this film is the subtext. This is one of the stronger films I’ve seen so far…but a hard sell – teen dramas that aren’t really meant for teens are always tricky (even when they’re as wonderful as ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL).
THE LADY IN THE VAN, directed by Nicholas Hytner, was next on my list. Hytner was in attendance for this film, and the Q&A was fantastic. Based on the memoir and subsequent play by Alan Bennett, the films stars Maggie Smith (who originated the role in the play in 1999). As this was the world premiere, it was Hytner’s first time seeing the finished film with an audience, and he had such eloquent things to say. Maggie Smith is divine, and I must say that it’s smarter, funnier and significantly more touching than the trailer alludes. (Sony Classics has picked this up, so it’s pretty certain it will get a NEON run.)
Then I got to see the North American premiere of THE DANISH GIRL, directed by Tom Hooper (KINGS SPEECH). This lovely film isn’t without a couple problematic moments, and it will certainly have its LGBT detractors – harping that it’s too “easy.” That said, I think it works. With lovely art direction, exquisite costumes and incredible performances across the board, this is a love story about artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander). Lili, first introduced to us as Einar Wegener, is known to be the first recorded person to receive sexual reassignment surgery in the 1930’s. Her diaries, posthumously used as the basis for the book MAN INTO WOMAN, remain highly regarded work for the transgender community. There will certainly be a lot of award season buzz for this film. (In addition to a fantastic Q&A with Tom, Eddie and Alicia, the audience at this screening included many stars from other films at the festival – including Johnny Depp (his wife Amber Heard plays a wonderful role in the film, and she was stunning tonight).)
TE PROMETO ANARQUIA, directed by Julio Hernández Cordón, was my last film for the night. This gritty film set in Mexico City is about two skateboarder boyfriends and their attempt to make some cash. It feels a bit like some of Gus Van Sant’s indie work (less GOOD WILL HUNTING and MILK, more PARANOID PARK and ELEPHANT). There are a lot of scenes where we simply see people traveling through the landscapes of the town with a loud, music-driven soundtrack. And there a handful of scenes with dudes showing off their machismo – which I understood their intent but felt were some of the weaker moments. The storytelling was uneven and overly long, and I think some of the plot points were haphazardly executed. About 25 minutes in, I considered leaving…but I’m glad I stuck it out.
I finished up the night with cocktails and catching up with some friends from NYC. Some high profiles films are on the docket for tomorrow – looking forward to them.
Thanks for reading!