Friday, September 12, 2014
Thanks for coming back to check out my last day of screenings at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Even though I didn’t see as many as I have during some years, I had a great time and managed to see 30 films, visit with lots of people in various aspects of the industry, and attend a couple fun parties.
My first film today was Susanne Bier’s A SECOND CHANCE. I was first introduced to Bier’s work at my first TIFF back in 2002. That’s where I saw OPEN HEARTS (her film from the Dogme Movement) and I fell in love…BROTHERS, AFTER THE WEDDING, the Oscar winning IN A BETTER WORLS – all great films. Bier is truly a gifted storyteller, but this new film is just too over-the-top for me. A veteran police officer and his wife are new, proud parents…but when the baby dies in the night of SIDS, the cop decides to swap his dead child with a mistreated baby from an ill-kept apartment to help nurse back his terribly depressed wife. This film is like a more cinematic, 2-hour episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU. Though the craft is there, the story and the script seem too big and even trite at times. Though I was engaged and wanted to see what happened, I was ultimately disappointed. (The lead actor, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is from GAMES OF THRONES. I’m sure there will be added appeal due to his presence.)
I usually only name films that I finish. If I walk out early, I don’t feel a review is warranted. That said, I watched the first 20 minutes of a movie today to kill some time. My plan was to leave early because I needed to get to a different screening. The movie was X + Y, and I was truly engaged (Sally Hawkins is in it, so that adds to the allure). I wish I could have finished it, but I wanted to get to ST. VINCENT in time.
ST. VINCENT is Bill Murray’s most recent film. It’s the story of a grumpy, older man who ends up babysitting his new next door neighbor’s kid when he gets home from school. Murray takes the kid to the race tracks, teaches him to defend himself on the playground and adds a few new colorful words to his vocabulary. Though a little “easy” sometimes, this film is a crowd-pleaser.
My last film of this year’s fest was LEARNING TO DRIVE – a film starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley. What a perfect way to end the fest! This is a film about a middle-aged woman who has just been left by her husband. Feeling even more trapped in her life by not being able to pick up and go visit her daughter, she finally takes the driving lessons she needs in order to get a license. Clarkson is luminous in this film, and her chemistry with Kingsley is spectacular. Clarkson attended the Q&A, and she told this audience that this is a film she’s been trying to make for 9 years. It’s touching, it’s very funny, and it’s a liberating film in regards to finding and taking control of yourself. I hope it finds distribution!
After the screening, I met up with a childhood friend who now lives in Buffalo. It’s been 5 years since I saw him last, and it was so great to catch up.
Thanks so much for checking in on my TIFF experience. It’s been a great year, and I’m going to miss this wonderful city.
In the next few days, I’ll try to upload a few photos I took on my phone and come up with a mini-recap.
All the best,