I’m back in Dayton. Yesterday evening and this morning were a whirlwind, so I didn’t have time to type this review until just now…sitting in the comfort of my living room. Yesterday morning was taken leisurely, and I eventually saw 2 films in the afternoon and evening…then I went out for some cocktails. Upon waking up this morning, I decided to fit in one more film before scurrying to the airport at Noon. Thus this update includes films I screened on Friday and this morning.
EASTERN BOYS is a film about a French man who hires a male prostitute only to have his entire life uprooted by an entire gang of Eastern European hustlers. It’s a scary film with long takes that forces us to deal with the situations, and it eventually makes way for a sort of love story that changes course. There are moments in this film when my heart was beating so fast that I found myself holding my breath. The film is sexually frank, and the lead hustler is both sexy and terrifying. Though there are moments when we don’t understand a character’s motivations (like not immediately calling the police…though I’m guessing shame played a role), I ultimately really liked this film.
ROCK THE CASBAH is a beautifully directed film about the gathering of a family for an important funeral. Set in Morocco, this film is both funning and touching…and it’s full of amazing performances by a couple women I love – Hiam Abass and Nadine Labaki. The film is narrated by the ghost of the recently deceased, played by Omar Sharif, and the film tackles some important issues – one being the role of women in Moroccan society. Directed by Laila Marrakchi, this is a really solid crowd-pleaser by a woman who is shaking things up. (Abass, Marrakchi, and actress Morjana Alaoui came out for a Q&A after the screening.)
A PROMISE was my last film of the festival. Unfortunately not the best. From veteran director Patrice Leconte, directing for the first time in English, this film is based on the novel JOURNEY INTO THE PAST by Stefan Zweig. The story follows a love triangle about an ailing steel factory owner (Alan Rickman), his young wife (the lovely Rebecca Hall), and the factory owner’s assistant (the adorable, but new to me, Richard Madden – I’ve never seen GAME OF THRONES). The costumes and sets are lovely, but the story is relatively bland with some clunky dialog and there’s some questionable camerawork (some camera moves actually made me angry). There’s an audience for this film…but it just didn’t cut it for me.
So here I am. Back at home and just beginning to think of all the films I saw. 32 in fact!! It seems like weeks ago that I was heading into CLOSED CURTAIN. In 9 days, I’ve been to far off lands, outer space, and familiar territory. I’ve seen a couple masterpieces, and I walked out on a couple stinkers. TIFF is always a highlight of my year, and I appreciate your interest in reading my thoughts.
All the best.
I hope to see you soon at THE NEON!