I’m up to my old TIFF tricks now. Long days/nights…minimal sleep.
My first film today was The Weinstein Company’s big Oscar hopeful for this year – LION, directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel. This is the story of a little Indian boy who gets lost in the streets of Calcutta – hundreds of miles away from home. After eventually being adopted by an Australian family, 20+ years later he begins a trip to find his birth family. Once again, I found myself interested in trimming this film down. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m watching dozens of movies…but I’m finding most material would be better if trimmed down. This film shouldn’t be 2 Hrs & 10 Min…it should be 20-30 minutes shorter. That said, what it accomplishes is indeed lovely, and the story is wonderful. The final bit of archival footage at the end resulted in even more tears.
I met up with a friend to catch the next film on my list – A UNITED KINGDOM, directed by Amma Asante (director of BELLE). This is the film about the relationship between Seretse Khama (a former African royal) and his wife Ruth Williams. Being a black man, alarm bells go up on each side of the fence when he courts and eventually asks for a white Englishwoman’s hand in marriage. This film feels old-fashioned in a good way. The storytelling is very direct – nothing edgy here, just solid storytelling, and I came away feeling as though I’d just had a good (and entertaining) history lesson. David Oyelowo is fantastic as Khama – his speeches are particularly moving and seem like they could stand alone as inspirational messages about race and patriotism. Rosamund Pike plays Williams, and she’s lovely as usual.
After lunch with a friend from Dayton I hadn’t seen in almost a decade – who now works at Almo Drafthouse (in Austin), I took a little nap before heading to my two evening screenings. Next up was a film I had already seen at an exhibitor screening. I almost never see a film at TIFF that I’ve already seen…but because I got a tip that Pedro Almodovar was in town, I got a ticket to JULIETA. Unfortunately, the tip was some bad intel. He wasn’t there. That said, I had tweeted a hopeful message that I wished Rossy de Palma would attend…and imagine my giddiness when she was introduced – her first time to Toronto. The film was even better with a second viewing – it’s richness in color and layers of storytelling all the richer. This is the story of a woman who decides to stay in Madrid in hopes that her daughter will return – someone who left her side 20 years before. With an exceptional score and great performances (Julieta is played by three different actresses in different stages of her life), this film is lovely. It’s hard to let an Almodovar film stand on its own without comparison. When compared to his other work, it falls short of being one of Almodovar’s masterpieces…if it stood alone, it would be heralded as superb. And P.S. The Q&A was delightful…and Rossy was so funny, warm and personable. I got my picture taken with her at the stage door, and my day was made!
Tom Ford’s second feature film NOCTURNAL ANIMALS was my final film of the day. I’ve been waiting 7 years since A SINGLE MAN to see what Tom Ford would do next, and this new film is exceptional! Starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon, this is the story of a woman who receives an advanced reading copy of her ex-husband’s novel which is a terrifying story that hits a little too close to home. The film uses certain visual devices to distinguish three different stories happening at once – the present story, the story of the novel and flashbacks to the relationship that spurred the novel. The costume design, sets and photography are stunning, the performances are incredible, and the story is intense and emotional. With a late 2016 release in store, I think this film will certainly begin to create some award buzz. (no trailer is available yet)
I then went out to meet up with a bunch of industry folks for a couple beers. That 5:50am alarm is gonna be hard.
Thanks for reading,