I was in bed by 12:30 last night, so getting up by 6:00am wasn’t so rough today (it will get much worse later in the festival). That said, the line was already about 15 deep when I arrived at the industry box office at 6:40 (by 7:30/7:45, it was at about 100).
BURN YOUR MAPS, directed by Jordan Roberts, was my first film of the day. This is a film with Jacob Tremblay (the little guy from ROOM) & Vera Farmiga, and they give really wonderful performances…unfortunately, I can’t say the same for everyone else. This is a story about how a kid begins to say that he’s actually Mongolian. He becomes “obsessed” with wearing traditional costumes and shepherding his make-believe goats. His parents are having marital problems after the loss of a child, and the desire for the boy to connect with his “true heritage” is a pleasant distraction for his mother…and a source of frustration for his father. The story eventually “takes” us to Mongolia, and budget restrictions rear their heads. There were some lovely moments in this film, and it will certainly find its fans – but overall, it wasn’t a big success for me. (There is no trailer currently available, so a photo is all I can post.)
FRANTZ was up next for me. Francois Ozon is a French director who has made some of my favorite films (I adore UNDER THE SAND, 8 WOMEN, SWIMMING POOL, TIME TO LEAVE and IN THE HOUSE). That said, he’s quite unpredictable and difficult to nail down as an auteur, and he’s made a couple magnificent clunkers, too. Tone, themes and genres are often in flux, and this film lends itself to that sentiment quite well – as it’s his most accessible work. Gorgeously shot in black and white, this post WWI story is about a German woman who meets the French man who has been visiting her fiancee’s grave. The film is shrouded in mystery, and and to tell you more of the story is to reveal too much. In both setting and a story with twists-and-turns, this film had me thinking of A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT – a film that I admire much more than critics did. This film has found American distribution with Music Box Films, and I hope the timing works for us to be able to bring it.
A MONSTER CALLS, directed by J.A. Bayona, was next on my list. People may immediately want to dismiss a story about a pre-teen boy who is visited by a monster as being too fantastical or juvenile…but this lovely film connects and works on so many levels and is certainly not for children. Dealing with repeated nightmares and constant fear of the declining health of his mother, the boy summons a monster who comes to tell him stories…and potentially save his mom (played by Felicity Jones). Though I thought the film could use some trimming, it’s ultimately quite wonderful (albeit a challenge to market).
AMERICAN PASTORAL, the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor (based on the novel by Philip Roth), was my final film of the day. With a story that spans from the late 40’s to the early 90’s, this beautifully shot and gorgeously art directed film stars McGregor and Jennifer Connelly. Examining the breakdown of American society via looking at an American family who has to deal with the radicalization of a daughter who eventually becomes an underground terrorist, this film sadly falls a bit flat and didn’t live up to my hopes for the material. Though the look of the film and the performances are solid, I came out feeling like the film never really hit the mark.
Tomorrow morning is an important one for me. There are two tickets for Sunday that I really want to make sure I get for Monday – LOVING and LA LA LAND. Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading,