It was a very full day!
My first film this morning was BLACKBIRD. “A terminally ill mother (Susan Sarandon) invites her family to their country house for one final gathering, but tensions quickly boil over between her two daughters (Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska), in Roger Michell’s (My Cousin Rachel, Le Week-End, Venus, Hyde Park On Hudson, Tea With The Dames – all films that played at THE NEON) remake of the award-winning 2014 Danish film Silent Heart.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film is a powerhouse of female talent. It strikes some wonderful chords and will be a film that will invoke numerous important discussions…but there were some over-the-top moments and on-the-nose dialog that kept me from loving it. That said, I ran into two women on the street after the screening, and they absolutely loved it. Am I a little jade? Perhaps. (There is no preview for this film yet.)
HOPE GAP was my second film of the day. “A together-forever couple (Annette Bening and Bill Nighy) unpack the many complications of splitting up, in Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson’s razor-sharp drama. Featuring brilliant performances from Bill Nighy and four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening, this exquisite drama from writer-director William Nicholson will resonate with anyone who has ever navigated the choppy waters of long-term love.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Now here’s a film for adults. The two central performances are incredible, and each side of this divorce-in-the-works will have you cringing. And the fact that their son gets used as a pawn is all the more upsetting. With lovely photography, colorful characters and a great script, I could see this film having a life with us at THE NEON.
LA BELLE EPOQUE was up next. “In this high-concept comedy from Nicolas Bedos (Mr. & Mrs. Adelman), a luddite cartoonist suffering an existential crisis hires a VR company to recreate a happier time in his marriage, as he tries to reconcile the golden-hued past with an inescapable digital present.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I haven’t seen anything this fresh and original since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. This wonderful film is a brilliant love story wrapped in a comedy. It’s truly French, and I could have stuck with it for hours. The performances are on point (I want more Fanny Ardant), and the dialog is fantastic. This is the first film of the festival where inventive editing has truly stood out. This is a gem.
I met up for a quick cocktail (and charcuterie board) with a friend and colleague from Fox Searchlight. In addition to catching up about life in general, we talked about the upcoming slate of films from Searchlight and all the films we’re seeing at the festival. I love this kind of one-on-one with someone I like and admire so much in the business. After our meeting, I came back to my apartment and typed for a bit…and then I met up with some Daytonian friends who were at TIFF as part of a “bucket list” experience. They had just wrapped up 5 films over the last 36 hours and I was about to head into my next screening…so our meeting was brief but sweet.
WAVES was my last film of the day, and there’s a lot of buzz around this film. “Cracks begin to show in the perfect façade of a young athlete’s life, in this palpable and unexpected drama from Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night, Krisha).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This beautifully yet unsettling film has so much going for it, and I think critics will truly take notice. The story is accessible and we root for the characters and cringe whenever they make poor decisions. There are so many interesting choices. The aspect ratio changes several times throughout the film, and the storytelling shifts focus, too. So much is working for this film, and the languid pace is quite lovely. That said, I would personally like to trim it down. Currently at 135 minutes, I wish it was more like 115/120. Unfortunately, I felt like the projection at this particular venue was too dark. Having just seen the trailer online (below) there was a more interesting and vibrant film under the surface…but projecting the film on an IMAX screen with a “dim” bulb created a hurdle that wasn’t necessary.
After my last screening, I met up with some industry folks at a casual gathering. People from Magnolia Pictures, Netflix, IFC and a couple PR firms were gathered at a quaint restaurant called the The Town Crier. It was a nice cap to a full day of films, and now I’m ready for bed.
Thanks for checking in!