Today was the first day!
Though screenings for the public didn’t start until this evening, there were several options for press and industry (aka P&I) starting at 9am. I don’t review films that I don’t watch in their entirety, so I won’t write much about the first film I saw (a portion of) today. I knew going in that I didn’t have 3 hours to spare, so I watched the first 2 hours.
Then I left that screening in order to attend my first full film – this year’s big winner at Cannes – PARASITE. “A family of cunning derelicts scheme to enter a wealthy household’s employ in this genre-bending, Palme d’Or–winning thriller of class struggle from South Korean master Bong Joon-ho.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Bong Joon-ho directed SNOWPIERCER, MOTHER, and THE HOST – which all played at THE NEON. PARASITE is a terribly interesting film. What first starts as almost a zany and fun “stick it to the rich” comedy, has a sudden tonal shift and becomes much more caustic. This film is a brilliant achievement with a lot to say about class, but I suspect the unsettling material in the third act might make it a hard sell to many of our regulars.
My next film of the day was PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – “Hired to paint a portrait ahead of a prospective marriage, an artist in 18th-century Brittany finds herself falling for the reclusive would-be bride, in the Cannes Queer Palm–winning fourth feature from writer-director Céline Sciamma.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Full of lovely photography and told at an elegant pace, this film is absolutely gorgeous. There’s very little music in this film…in fact, there is no traditional score – just a couple moments of music used with great craft. That said, the sound design is exquisite – crackling fire and creaking floorboards add their own rhythms. And I’ve never watched brush strokes on canvas with such interest. The script is marvelous (it won the screenplay award at Cannes – of which it clearly deserved), and I wrote down several lines I want to remember. The chemistry between the two leads sets the screen ablaze, and the director makes so many compelling and wonderful choices. A true gem. There is no trailer yet for this film, just some clips. Check this one out:
My last film of the evening was also my first public film of the day – THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. “Director Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin) brings his sardonic wit — and a stellar cast that includes Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw — to Charles Dickens’ classic autobiographical novel.” (taken from TIFF catalog). Armando and Dev and several other cast members were part of a post-screening Q&A after this evening’s screening (but sadly no Tilda!), and their attendance certainly added to the glitz of opening night. This re-telling of the beloved Dickens’ novel is told with a very contemporary visual style, and some bold choices are made – and many are well executed. There’s a lot of comedy in this adaptation (the screenplay is by VEEP’s Simon Blackwell), but I felt a certain mania in this version that led me to never really care about anyone. I laughed numerous times and there are certainly some really terrific moments…but overall, it wasn’t as strong as I had hoped. There is no trailer (and very few images yet) for this film.
Tomorrow has 2 of my highly anticipated films on the docket. Can’t wait!
Thanks for reading,