Yesterday was jam-packed, and I had to be up at 5:30 this morning in order to get to the airport on time (I’m sure glad I got there 2 hours in advance as suggested – that place was crazed at 6:30am). Anyway, the following are the films I saw on my final day in Toronto.
First off, I saw a documentary called PATRON SAINTS. This short piece about residents in a nursing home could have been even shorter. In fact, I think that the poor image quality combined with the mostly poor camera work lend itself to being a better audio piece. The only thing that makes this piece interesting are the characters – and though it’s certainly compelling to see their images, it’s their stories (and sometimes heartbreaking questions) that really count. (Of course this trailer makes my criticism look off the mark…but perhaps a 30 minute film would have been better than 72 – given the minutes and minutes of shaky, outdoor, non-interesting photography).
Next up, I saw THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH – a French film (though with lots of dialog in English) with Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas. The story involves a man who has returned to Paris (we’re led to believe that he just released from prison – but we begin to question all of our beliefs) in order to try and get time with his young daughter – from whom he has a restraining order. Though he gets a few brief moments with her, he begins to write her a long letter – and eventually meets a muse (Kristin Scott Thomas) who insists that he return to writing a novel. I liked this film, but it has me wondering if there were key details that I missed (as the last 15 minutes left me a little puzzled). The trailer below is the French trailer (the only one available) – but there’s plenty of dialog in English.
After that, I saw THE AWAKENING – a supernatural thriller with Rebecca Hall (with a supporting role by one of my favorites – Imelda Staunton). This period film is about a woman who is called to an all boys’ school in order to disprove the rumors and fears that a ghost is responsible for the recent death of a student. Interestingly, each time she disproves the presence of ghosts, she falls into a depression – because she wants nothing more than to be able to communicate with her dead lover. The film will undoubtedly be linked to recent movies like THE OTHERS or THE ORPHANAGE…and that’s fair. That said, I think it’s quite good. The production values and performances make it stand out in its genre – and I jumped and shrieked with the rest of the audience.
Lastly, I saw BEAUTY – a film set in South Africa. The film is about a man who leads a very polished and respected life with his family – but secretly meets for group sex with a local group of closeted men. The lead character becomes interested in the son of a family friend, and the movie becomes a spooky tale of obsession. There are several critics/members of the gay community who loathe the depiction of gay men as leering, predatory creatures portrayed as nothing but wicked characters. Though I certainly understand their point (it doesn’t do much in helping to create positive images of the lgbt community), this film is actually a cautionary tale about repression. It’s the married men, hiding their true sexual identities, who should concern us. They’re the ones who tend to be filled with self-loathing, resentment, jealousy and thus potentially unleashed anger…the ones who tend to seem the most homophobic and vote against lgbt rights (see numerous news stories regarding political and religious leaders who have been caught hiring rent boys and had public restroom encounters). Though I don’t think this is a great film, it is well done and certainly unsettling.
So that’s it! 34 Films in 9 Days!
I’m home now…doing laundry, catching up on a bit of rest, and beginning to put all my thoughts into next weekend’s LGBT Film Fest at THE NEON. (You know about that, right???) www.daytonlgbt.com Tickets are on sale now! If you can’t make it to everything, I personally suggest WEEKEND, TOMBOY, Top Drawer Shorts, and CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE.
Hope to see you soon,