Today was my last day of screenings, and even though I feel like I’ve been away for months, I’m actually a little sad to be packing my bags. There are several films I didn’t get a chance to see, and every year I think I’m going to take part more in the industry activities (indiewire talks, a variety of lectures, etc.) – but I don’t. I just end up cramming in movies.
First off today, I saw STONEWALL, directed by Roland Emmerich. This film was lambasted before anyone saw it. Criticism soared across the web based only on the trailer, and I must admit that I went into this screening with very low expectations…and I was pleasantly surprised. Though not a masterpiece by a long shot, it’s better than I anticipated. The story of the actual Stonewall Riots is only a portion of this coming-of-age tale about a young guy kicked out of his home and now living on the streets of NYC with numerous other LGBT youth. This is a fictional story set in the midst of some recognizable events and characters, and despite some giggles at some inappropriate moments (due to trite material) it worked emotionally for several people around me in the cinema.
YOUTH is director Paul Sorrentino’s follow-up to his masterpiece THE GREAT BEAUTY. It’s a lovely film about two long-time friends (Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel) vacationing in the Swiss Alps. Though not much “happens,” there’s a lot of discussion about life – both present and past, and there is an abundance of cinematic poetry. The two men are on different paths. One is finishing a screenplay for what should be his next great film and the other is retired with no intention of returning to his work (even at the request of the Queen of England). Though perhaps a bit too avant garde for some, I devoured this film and its interesting gaze.
My last film of the festival was THE WITCH, directed by Robert Eggers. This period thriller/horror film set in 1630’s New England was a smash at Sundance, and I have to admit that I have a secret thing for witches. From Margaret Hamilton to Angelic Huston, from Shakespeare’s “double double, toil and trouble” to Miller’s trials – I’ve always been fascinated by them. Though stylish and sometime startling, The performances and period details are very well executed, the cinematography is moody and beautifully done, and there are some genuinely haunting moments…but something wasn’t working for me. Perhaps the score which purposefully misguides us numerous times helped to create a distrust in the storytelling – I’m not entirely sure what was creating the disconnect for me. That said, as much as this film is about a witch, it’s even more about paranoia and distrust and a creepy devotion to the Bible. During the Q&A, we heard the director talk about all of his research for this film – from court documents and diaries from that era to architectural elements, his knowledge of the subject made me appreciate the film a bit more. I think this film will certainly find a devoted audience…but I wasn’t 100% sold.
And now it’s time to pack my bags. I’ve met some great people during this trip – critics that write for international publications, people who curate festivals in other markets and numerous lovers of cinema. I’ve seen old friends, I’ve had good food, I’ve seen numerous movie stars and famous directors, and I’ve watched 34 movies. It’s been a blast. Thanks for checking in on me.
I hope to see you soon. All the best,