I got to sleep in today because my first film started later than usual, and I was glad I got an extra hour in bed. Here’s why: Last night had me attending my first true parties of the festival. First was a gathering with lots of LGBT industry folks – people in PR, critics, film buyers, distributors, programers, etc. It was a nice event, and I saw a handful of people I’ve met before and was introduced to a handful more – these parties are a lot about networking, so I’m glad I went. I was a little baffled that it was after 1:30 when I decided to leave, but upon arriving at my apartment, there was a party for A24 right across the street…and a friend had put my name on the list…so I had to check it out. Though it was “winding down,” it was still a pretty terrific party. I saw several people I knew (including some crossover from the earlier LGBT party), recognized numerous celebrities from films I’ve screened (WAVES, HARRIET, JOJO RABBIT, and more), and then I saw Jon Hamm. (swoon) This party was super casual and people didn’t seem to have their guards up…what a fun way to wrap up a great day.
MY ZOE was my first film of Day #7. “A recently divorced mother is driven to extremes in this seventh film by writer-director-actor Julie Delpy — a suspense drama unlike anything she has done before.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This film goes in a direction you’re not anticipating. It’s a very straight-forward drama – well-acted, solid script, etc…and then you start to realize some new-fangled, sci-fi technology…but maybe it’s not so sci-fi. This film will spur a lot of interesting dialog. (So many films at this year’s festival are about divorce and the strains they induce.)
THE KINGMAKER was my next film. “Acclaimed documentarian Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles) aims her lens at Filipino politician and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who, despite disgrace, remains unbowed and enmeshed in her nation’s politics.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Imelda Marcos is a great subject. She’s funny, charming, charitable, and fumbles a bit. She seems like the crazy, rich aunt you never knew you had….until the truth starts pouring out. Greenfield set out to make a very different film, but the story you see unfolded before her, and she couldn’t stop filming. What was supposed to take a year or so took five years to make, and you simply can’t believe it. It’s political corruption like you’ve never seen…and the gullible public who seem to keep inviting it in. This is a cautionary tale! During the very interesting Q&A, Greenfield said that Imelda would answer every question she ever asked except one. She wouldn’t answer “How do you feel about Donald Trump?” I’m so glad my friend Charlie suggested I see this film. He’s the person who suggested I see FREE SOLO and BIGGEST LITTLE FARM last year…and look what happened to those!
Though HUSTLERS doesn’t initially seem like a film I’d be screening at TIFF, a critic friend told me that it’s much better than the trailer alludes…and that JLo could garner an Oscar nomination. So, I found a way to squeeze it in…only to arrive and the venue and find out that the projector won’t start due to an AC issue. This just goes to show that no venue is surefire – technical issues happen everywhere. Thus I’ll have to wait and see HUSTLERS when it gets a theatrical release. “Inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article that went viral, Hustlers follows a savvy crew of former strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Stiles.” (taken from TIFF catalog)
LUCY IN THE SKY was my last film of the day. “After returning to earth, an obsessive astronaut (Natalie Portman) begins to question her place in the universe — including her relationships with her gentle husband (Dan Stevens) and her alluring crewmate (Jon Hamm) — in the debut feature from accomplished television showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion).” (taken from TIFF catalog) During the first few minutes, I liked what I was seeing. The sound design (and especially lack of sound) was great, the idea of someone returning from space and not knowing how to reintegrate was an interesting idea…but things got muddy pretty quickly. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mind frame, but at the end of the day, I think this film is a mess. More and more directors are playing with aspect ratio these days (though never as well as Xavier Dolan or Wes Anderson), and though some scenes had motivation for a change in ratio, the director admitted that sometimes he just wanted to play. And it shows – the shifts simply don’t make sense. And there’s more that doesn’t make sense. At one moment, when Portman is purchasing items in a hardware department, she reaches over and grabs a wig…duct tape, hammer, box cutter, wig…makes no sense! I realize this film is about a woman in the midst of an existential crisis, but I ultimately didn’t care about anyone. The accent is bad, the Dorothy Hamill haircut is bad, some of the green screen work is bad. I rolled my eyes and shook my head numerous times during this film….and I’m ultimately sad that such a lackluster film has happened to such a great distributor.
Only 2+ more days.
Off to bed.
Thanks for reading,