Hi there, Folks!
I saw five films today, and I’m slated for five tomorrow. (We’ll see if that happens.)
THE LIE, directed by Veena Sud, was my first film of the day. The premise intrigued me, and then I heard a few people talk it up at a party a couple nights ago. Here’s the brief TIFF synopsis: “In this thriller from Toronto-born writer-director Veena Sud, two parents wrestle with the consequences of their teenage daughter’s lethal mistake, proving just how far any parent would go to protect their child.” This film has won my “most eye rolls per scene” award. Idiot dialog. Over-the-top moments complete with lots of furrowed brows and indicating. It’s a turkey. This film (ultimately about white privilege) had me wanting to leave within the first half hour. But because all other screenings were in progress, I decided to stick it out. I also stayed for smug reasons. 20 minutes into the film, I wrote down my suspicion as to how the film would end. I wanted to know if I was right…and I hit the nail on the head 100%. I really hate it when a bad film happens to an actor I like (Peter Sarsgaard).
TELL IT TO THE BEES, directed by Annabel Jankel, was my next film of the day. “Academy Award winner Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger star in this wrenching drama of a shunned small-town doctor and beekeeper in postwar Britain who befriends a struggling mother and son, helping them discover that love can be found in many forms.” This film is full of lovely period details and lush cinematography, but it’s the central performances that shine (while many other characters aren’t fleshed out). It’s a slower-paced film that works on some levels, but there are plot points and character attitudes that shift and change without much notice. In addition, there are special effects regarding swarming bees that are too over-the-top. There’s a line that comes toward the end of the film via voiceover that says “what I saw and what I thought I saw” – and that would have been helpful at the beginning (but maybe it was there and I really didn’t contextualize it). Ultimately, the message is great – but it’s not a film that will find great commercial success.
THE PUBLIC, directed by Emilio Estevez, was shot and set in downtown Cincinnati. “A sit-in by patrons at a public library escalates into a police standoff and a media sideshow, in Emilio Estevez’s arresting drama that explores issues surrounding homelessness, mental health, and community. Featuring Estevez, Alec Baldwin, Taylor Schilling, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Gabrielle Union, Christian Slater, and Michael K. Williams.” This film has some powerful moments and great messages (regarding homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and public libraries as a democratic pillar), but it attempts to tackle too many storylines in a short amount of time. The film has clearly been condensed for time, and though the narrative holes can easily be filled in by savvy viewers – it seems too choppy. This film has a lot of heart, but it still needs some editing help to truly make it sing.
COLETTE, directed by Wash Westmoreland, was my next film. Here’s the brief TIFF synopsis: “Keira Knightley stars in this historical drama about the eponymous French novelist, whose provocative debut — falsely credited to her husband — becomes the toast of Paris, triggering a battle for identity, equality, and self-determination at the dawn of the feminist age.” Here’s my brief response: LOVED IT. From the performances to the production design to the smart dialog, I really loved this film. I’m happy to report that we have it booked to open at THE NEON on Oct. 19. The heartfelt Q&A with this screening was spectacular…particularly Wash Westmoreland (STILL ALICE) talking about dedicating the film to his recently deceased co-director and husband. Knightley is superb, and the history lesson has me wanting to read even more of Colette’s work (I have only read some short stories and CHERI – now I want more). From the tone and look of the trailer, I suspected I would like this film…but it delivered so much more.
BOY ERASED, directed by Joel Edgerton, was my last film of the day. “The teenaged son of a Baptist pastor is forced into a gay-conversion program by his parents, in actor-director Joel Edgerton’s emotive drama starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges.” This film is meant for mass consumption – and for that reason, I give it a bit of a pass. The cast does a fine job with the material, and certain scenes even elicited rounds of applause from the audience…but there’s something a little too sterile for me to put the film on the top of the list. It’s as though the filmmaker was scared to get too close. And I get it on some level. At some point, a filmmaker (or distributor) has to ask “who do we want to see this movie?” If the film pushed the envelope too much, then it would only preach to the choir. In this instance, perhaps the film can actually be seen by more than the queer community…and possibly save some lives – and for that, I give it my blessing (plus the fact that Kidman is pretty awesome here). The Q&A with Kidman, Edgerton, and the author of the source material (as well as his mother) was pretty spectacular.
Thanks for checking in,