Today was another day with 5 films…and it was an impressive day of films. That said, I’m not quite certain how/why I’m still standing.
LEAN ON PETE, the new film from Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND, 45 YEARS) was my first film of the day. This is a touching story about a teenage boy who is mostly left to fend for himself – his mother abandoned the family and his father works a lot and is consumed with a new relationship. While on a morning run, the boy stumbles across a race track stable and is taken with the idea of getting to know how to tend horses. Lean on Pete is an older quarter horse with whom the boy becomes enamored, and a slow, eloquent, sad story follows. This film won’t be for everyone…and though I didn’t like every turn it took, I ultimately think this film is a gem. (there is no trailer yet for this film)
A FANTASTIC WOMAN, the second film in the festival directed by Sebastian Lelio, was my next film for the day. It is brilliant! When her boyfriend wakes up not feeling well and dies due to complications of an aneurysm, Marina notifies the family…and trouble ensues. Marina is a trans woman, and the family doesn’t want her to be a part of the man’s wake. Sad and inspiring and with a couple fantastical moments, this movie will end up as one of my favorites of the festival.
PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN, directed by Angela Robinson, is the story of William Marston’s polyamorous relationship and the creation of the Wonder Woman comics. The story focuses heavily on the controversy of the early days of the comic that included lesbianism and BDSM. Though beautifully shot and containing some wonderful performances, there were some details that kept me from fully embracing this story. The script seemed contrived and too easy at moments, and the framing device of a hearing with Child Study Association of America could easily have been a powerful scene instead of a recurring element that ultimately weakens as the film progresses. This film will find an audience, but its rough edges will keep it from going too far.
FACES PLACES, the new documentary from Agnes Varda and JR, is a cinematic, magical gift. I adore so much of Varda’s work, and this film was just the warm and joyful and insightful film I needed. If you have a chance to see it on the big screen, don’t miss it! Check out the trailer below for a taste. (added note: JR was in Dayton several years ago with his mobile photo printing truck! You might remember large scale photos pasted to the Dayton Art Institute and the former Chin’s building.)
LOVING PABLO, directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa was my last film of the day. This is the story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar as told by one of his lovers – famed journalist Virginia Vallejo. This engaging story has two great central performances from Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. And though I was fully engaged and admired many of the filmmaker’s choices, I found some of it hard to take. When rampant killing sprees are backed by celebratory-like rock music, it seems as though the filmmaker is elevating the crimes to “rock star” proportions. Almost as though they should be admired (which doesn’t sit well for me). Overall, I liked the film…but I doubt I’ll revisit it.
Thanks so much for reading. Only two days left for my festival experience.