Today was a busy day. I considered seeing 6 films, but I was backed up with NEON obligations (the weekly newsletter, emails, etc.), so I only saw 5…and then met a friend for a quick drink at a little gay industry soiree. (I’m exhausted.)
My first film of the day was THE WIFE, directed Bjorn Runge and starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. This film opens with a husband and wife preparing for bed and awaiting big news. Within the first few minutes, we find out that he has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the couple are off to Stockholm to receive the award. Close’s reactions seem supportive but with reservation. It’s clear that something more is simmering under the surface. Though well done, this film is pretty simple. The handful of flashback scenes almost do the film a disservice – as they aren’t particularly well done (and performances don’t live up to Close’s). I think this film will find an audience, but its slow pace and somber tone will mean a limited reception.
I, TONYA, directed by Craig Gillespie, was my second film of the day. This film is based on actual interviews about Tonya Harding and the assault of Nancy Kerrigan. The film is a mix of colorful characters, and on the surface it seems like fun. That said, there are moments when characters break the fourth wall…and those moments made me feel that they were making light of the domestic violence in the film – and that was hard to stomach. Overall, it’s a good film with an absolute standout performance by one of Dayton’s own – Allison Janney (people are buzzing about a supporting Oscar nomination). I think many people will love this film, but I have some major reservations. The film made headlines a couple days ago when it got picked up for distributional after a festival screening.
BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE), a narrative feature about ACT UP PARIS, directed by Robin Campillo, was my third film of the day. This tender and engaging film about a group of activists during the height of the AIDS epidemic had me rather emotional. There tactics were rather non-traditional and a bit aggressive, but they were clearly responsible for the government taking notice. Though there are a couple narrative arcs in the story, it’s the one about the young couple (one positive and the other negative) that will break your heart.
A much-hyped film that made its premiere at Sundance – THE DISASTER ARTIST, directed by James Franco – was my next to last film of the day. This film is about the making of THE ROOM – a film that is regarded as one of the worst films ever made. Franco plays Tommy Wiseau – the director of the terrible film…and his brother James plays Greg Sister – Wiseau’s friend, co-star and collaborator. This movie works without knowing anything about the film on which it is based…but it helps. Franco’s performance seems so weird and out-of-control – but it’s truly based on a terribly odd man. This film is destined for cult status – much like THE ROOM itself.
My final film of the day was a documentary called SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, directed by Matt Tyrnauer. This is the story of a former Marine who opened a gas station in L.A. and catered to the sexual desires (either by himself or by finding and providing specific requests) of numerous Hollywood legends from the late 40’s to early 80’s. Based in part on Scotty Bowers’ tell-all book about his time and clients at the gas station, this films starts off like a gossipy recount. But then it turns into so much more. Unapologetic and full of stories, Scotty is quite a character and the film is both hysterical and terribly sad.
I have 5 films slated for tomorrow, too.
Thanks for reading!