I only got to see three films today. 🙁
8 o’clock this morning was my on-line ticketing window to secure tickets for the second half of the festival. I got up early (with very little sleep), showered and got ready for the day and logged on right at 8:00…and the system was down. I stuck around for another 15-20 minutes, hoping it would be back up. At about 8:30, I decided to pack everything and hustle to the physical box office (which means I missed my first screening of the day). Luckily, I beat the crowds of people who were also experiencing technical difficulties and I secured all the other tickets I wanted for the next several days.
My first screening was instead at 10:45. FREE SOLO, directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin, was another film that my PR friend highly recommended (I had more faith in this film than I did in CLIMAX as it comes from the directors of MERU – which was wonderful). Here’s the brief description from TIFF: “The documentarian duo behind 2015’s acclaimed Meru return to high altitudes, this time as renowned rock climber Alex Honnold attempts to do what no climber has done before: ascend free solo — without safety ropes — up the 3,000-foot cliff of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park.” More than just an outdoor adventure documentary, this film is also a very interesting character study about a man who had to teach himself how to hug (because it’s something people do – but he never had). I never knew or understood exactly how much planning would go into something like this, and it’s pretty spectacular. The last 10 minutes become incredibly emotional – for Alex’s girlfriend, the entire camera crew and the viewer.
WILDLIFE, directed by Paul Dano, was my second film of the day. “In Paul Dano’s evocative and emotional directorial debut, a teenage boy (Ed Oxenbould) in 1960s Montana experiences the breakdown of his parents’ marriage and his mother’s (Carey Mulligan) struggle to keep their lives afloat after his father (Jake Gyllenhaal) leaves.” This low-key and quietly observed film is about a boy who is caught in the middle of his parents’ discontent. It’s a slow burn that actually packs quite a punch. The production design is lovely, the performances are strong, and the “small town America” vibe seems just right. One issue I had with the film was the teenage boy. Though playing 14, at times it seemed like he’s pushing 25…he just has a certain look that is hard to nail down an age. At the end of the day, it’s a really well-made film, and I think Dano will have quite a career as a director (and IFC is going to push for an Oscar nomination for Mulligan).
After the screening, I came back to my apartment and tended to some NEON business before heading to IFC’s WILDLIFE party. I met a few new folks (cinema operators and a critic) and enjoyed some deliciously crafted cocktails. Mulligan and Dano were at the party and seemed quite at ease…they know they have a great film on their hands.
THE OLD MAN & THE GUN, directed by David Lowery, was my last film of the day. With scenes shot partially in Dayton, I was all the more interested to see this film. And boy was I happily surprised. Here’s the TIFF synopsis: “Academy Award winners Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek lead an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, and Casey Affleck, in director David Lowery’s true-life dramedy about an unrepentant bank robber and jail-breaker determined to live life by his own rules.” This is one of the best films I’ve seen so far at TIFF 2018. It’s tender and funny and laced with (non-sappy) cinematic nostalgia. I think it’s a gem, and I’m delighted that we are set to open it on Oct. 12. (Our FilmDayton preview on Oct. 11 has already sold out!) Take a look at this new trailer. Dayton (though playing the part of St. Louis in the film) is featured quite a bit!
And now I need to finish up my NEON weekly newsletter. If all goes as planned, I’ll be back to five films tomorrow.
Thanks for checking in!