Sunday, September 7, 2014
Last night was a late night again…so this morning started with a drag…but I don’t regret staying out until 2:00. I had dinner with an old friend (I met Bill in line for Almodovar’s TALK TO HER back in 2002) and then met a couple other friends for cocktails. It was a great night.
This morning started in line like all the other mornings. I managed to get the tickets I want for Tuesday public screenings (including WILD – the buzz for Reese Witherspoon is quite big), and I was then off to my first P&I screening.
TOUR DE FORCE was first. It’s a German film about a group of friends getting together for their annual bike ride. This year, the protagonist has chose Belgium as the destination – much to his friends’ consternation. Within the first act, it is revealed that he has chosen Belgium because physician assisted suicide is an option there. He has ALS, and his body is reacting worse and worse each day. The chemistry of the friends is quite good, and I liked a lot of the film, but I think it lost its way a couple times. Ultimately, I think there’s a really strong 80 minute film here. Unfortunately, the 95 minute version isn’t the best.
FACE OF AN ANGEL was my next selection. It’s the new Michael Winterbottom film that uses the murder of an American student traveling in Italy (the Meredith Kercher case is clearly the inspiration) as the jumping point for the film. This movie is about a filmmaker who has been offered the chance to write a screenplay and direct the film version of the murder and court proceedings. As he gets deeper into understanding the dynamics, he decides he’d rather create a film that speaks to the murder but isn’t actually traditional telling of the story. Daniel Bruhl, who I first fell in love with in GOODBYE, LENIN, plays the director, and Kate Beckinsale plays the journalist who has written extensively about the case. Sadly, I think the film becomes a self-reflexive jumble – with dream sequences and drug-induced hallucinations that create a frenzy of a film that ultimately doesn’t work. Though I like that the film makes us question the idea of “truth,” I wasn’t up for all the antics of this story.
I was quite excited to see MISS JULIE – the new Liv Ullmann adaptation of the classic play by Strindberg, starring Jessica Chastain and Collin Farrell. This is the story of a daughter of a count who is enamored by a well-spoken valet. What initially seems like flirting becomes a cat and mouse game for control of affections and desire – and certainly an examination of class. The production elements are divine, and Chastain’s performance is absolutely incredible, but I ultimately felt that the adaptation was rather arduous. There’s something to be said for honoring the text of a classic play, but I think this film needs tightening.
And then I saw the world premiere of THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – the story of Stephen Hawking, his relationship with his wife and his battle with ALS. I love this film! The photography is lovely, the evolving period aspects are perfect, and the performances are out of this world. I didn’t sense a false note in any moment, and I think numerous awards will follow. Eddie Redmayne was in attendance and spoke quite eloquently of the process of creating his body movements – which involved doctors and a choreographer. In addition to all the folks from the film (many of whom participated in the Q&A), there were several stars in attendance for the screening – including Andrew Garfield, Jon Stewart and Julie Taymor. THE NEON has tentatively put this film on the schedule right around Thanksgiving! (Look at this photo comparison…I’ve only just seen it, and it makes the film all the more impressive.)
Thanks again for checking in!