Today was looking slim initially. My only official film on the books today was NYAD – everything else came as surprises…and we all know that not all surprises are good.
My first film was from Cuba. WILD WOMAN, dir. Alán González (Cuba). “Yolanda, a Cuban woman, goes from dancing her heart out at a house party to running against the clock to find her son and skip town once a video circulates from that gathering that seems to incriminate her.” (TIFF Catalog) Not only did I feel like this film was missing a reel (that doesn’t really happen anymore), it also is as much about the landscape as it is about the main character. Though the lead actress was quite compelling and gives an honest and rather heartbreaking performance, not everyone is as good. I ultimately was only slightly invested to find out “what happens” at the end, and I don’t see this film breaking out.
My next film was my first “early departure” from TIFF. If you’re new to my blog, you might not know that I don’t review or name names for films that I don’t finish. I don’t think it’s fair to write reviews for films that I don’t watch from beginning to end. In this case, the idiot dialog and some really poor performances (it seemed like every line was said with a knowing smile) made me cringe a lot…and my eyes were starting to hurt from rolling so much. It was noted at the start that it was being presented courtesy of Paramount+, so maybe you’ll stumble upon it there one day – let me know if you watch a movie with some really big stars there in the near future.
Next up was a film I was anxious to see…and it didn’t disappoint. NYAD, dir. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin (USA). “Annette Bening and Jodie Foster dive into the dangerous waters of the Florida Straits, in this film based on the true story of the woman who, at the age of 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to the US without a shark cage.” (TIFF Catalog) This film was directed by the folks who brought us the incredible doc FREE SOLO – and it’s their first time directing a narrative. They’s got the chops to do it…and with Bening and Foster as the talent, it turns into crowd-pleasing gold. As a bonus, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & the real Bonnie (Nyad’s best friend turned coach) were in attendance to introduce the film and partake in a Q&A after. It was spectacular, and Bening is so very present and alive in this performance! The film is inspiring on a lot of levels, and every now and then, I saw a little glimmer of my friend Julia Reichert in Annette Bening. I’m sad that most people will see this on Netflix…it deserves a big screen with good sound.
I tried to get a ticket to the film AMERICAN FICTION tonight, but demand was too high – and even though I waited over an hour, at least 100 of us were turned away…so instead, I chose a documentary about a performer I admire but didn’t know much about. LIL NAS X: LONG LIVE MONTERO, dir. Carlos López Estrada, Zac Manuel (USA). “Watch superstar Lil Nas X transcend genres and defy expectations in this revealing, jubilant, and inspiring musical documentary.” This documentary, though certainly a PR piece, shined some light on a performer who is breaking down barriers. I admire how unabashedly queer and flamboyant Lil Nas has become in the public eye over the past couple years, and it was nice to get some background on him as well as explore some production moments of the tour I wasn’t able to attend. For all the quick fame and money that has come his way, Lil Nas still seems a bit naive but also grounded on some level…and that’s refreshing. Madonna makes a quick appearance in the doc – which certainly seems to give a nod to TRUTH OR DARE – which was groundbreaking 30+ years ago.
Tomorrow is my last full day of screenings. On some level, it’s hard to believe it’s winding down…on another, it seems like I’ve been here for months.
Thanks for reading!