I’m now well beyond the half-way mark, and today’s 4 screenings took my grand total to 22 films so far…this means I’ll certainly hit the 30+ mark for this year’s TIFF.
AERONAUTS was my first movie of the day. “The Theory of Everything costars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite for Tom Harper’s high-flying tale about a 19th-century scientist and hot-air balloonist making altitudinal and meteorological history.” (taken from TIFF catalog) This thrilling adventure is a little too “easy,” but it is also rather fun. That said, I can’t imagine watching it on a television screen at home – the thrills are best felt on a big screen with a great sound system. Redmayne and Jones are charming as can be, and though the costumes are sometimes a little “too much,” I felt like there’s certainly an audience who will revel in this tale – and cheer for the bold and brave female character in the central role.
Though it’s getting a wide release that won’t include us at THE NEON, I had to go see THE GOLDFINCH – based on one of my favorite novels of the past several years. “Theo Decker (Ansel Elgort) was only 13 when his mother died in a museum bombing, sending him on an odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption. Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day: a priceless painting of a bird chained to its perch, The Goldfinch. The latest from John Crowley (Brooklyn) is based on Donna Tartt’s bestselling novel.” (taken from TIFF catalog) Though I felt like the film was off to a great start – making a lot of great decisions, this movie is one that actually needs more time. We meet too many characters and never get to know them…which in turn makes the material lose its heart. We never get too attached. The source material is more intended for a mini-series than a 140 minute feature film, and I’m sad to say that I don’t think this film will go too far.
The new documentary THE CAPOTE TAPES was my third screening of the day. “Newly discovered interviews with friends of Truman Capote made by Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton invigorate this fascinating documentary on the author (and socialite) behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, while situating Capote in the 20th-century American literary canon.” (taken from TIFF catalog) There is so much to love about this film – because at its center is the brilliant, hysterical, and tormented Truman Capote. The interviews are divine, but the piece starts to lose steam in the last 30 minutes. Though there’s not much room in the “marketplace” for an hour-long documentary (too long for a short and too short for a feature), it would be a much stronger piece at 1 hour. That said, there’s so much good material here…but unfortunately, the director had to use cutaways because evidently there aren’t enough photos to put on screen during the tape recorded interviews…so he resorts to tracking shots of dinner plates, silverware and crystal goblets – thus so many visuals are uninteresting and do nothing for the story. Luckily, interviews are great – so I stuck with it…and feel I know Truman a bit better.
The premiere of HARRIET, the very first feature film ever made about Harriet Tubman, was my last film of the night. “Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons’ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.” (taken from TIFF catalog) From seeing the trailer, I was a little fearful that this film was going to be too polished and not raw enough. And though I think it could still use a little more indie grit, the story did indeed envelop me. Kasi Lemmons explained that they decided not to use the often seen violent tropes of other slavery stories, they wanted to focus on this movie being about freedom. Though we know some of what characters have suffered, we aren’t forced to watch it as with other recent films about slavery like 12 YEARS A SLAVE or BIRTH OF A NATION. Instead, we get an adventure film with a true woman – a human being, not a super hero – who saves lives and should inform us all. Though there were some devices that I thought wore a little thin, I still was completely invested in the story and loved learning more about this American Hero…and having many from the cast do a Q&A was incredibly insightful and all the more powerful. This film really got the crowd going, and I think it will be well received in Dayton, too.
I’m getting this done a bit earlier than usual…and heading out to a party or two tonight. My first screening isn’t until Noon tomorrow, so sleeping in is a possibility.
Thanks for checking in!