Today was one of those packed days…and I’m thinking I might finish typing this while in line tomorrow morning (so I can get at least 5 hours of sleep).
I saw 5 films on Day #1.
First off was an Iranian film called CLOSED CURTAIN by Jafar Panahi & Kambuzia Partovi. This is a film about a man who goes into hiding with his dog – residing in a “friend’s house” where he blacks out all the windows and fears any sounds of people outside. A strange woman finds her way into the house, and tensions mount. About half way into the film, the story reveals itself. Not everything is as it seems…for this is a story being written/imagined by a director. This is a film about inspiration and character development…and how one creates under certain constraits. Not knowing Panahi’s story (of being under house arrest in Iran) could make this film a little more difficult to initially understand…though I eventually found the cinematic riddles/metaphors to be a little obtuse and tedious. (There’s a side story about how dogs are not allowed to be seen in public…and the dog in this movie steals every scene.)
(CONTINUED at 7:00am Friday morning)
Francois Ozon’s latest film – YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL – is a sexually charged film about a girl losing her virginity over the summer…and how she eventually is drawn into the power-play of sexuality. At 17, while still in high school and living at home, she begins leading a double life of a prostitute. She uses on-line pornography as tutorials, and she steals her mother’s clothes to look more sophisticated. Told over the course of 4 seasons, this film has a couple clunky moments and on-the-nose song choices (and a little too overscored – though I do love the score). It even visually references BELLE DE JOUR – which is clearly loved by Ozon. Overall, I rather liked the sexual politics of the film…and I loved the ending. (Last year, I saw Ozon’s last film – IN THE HOUSE…it ended up being one of my favorites.)
ABUSE OF WEAKNESS is Catherine Breillat’s latest film – based loosely on her personal story of dealing with the aftermath of a stroke and being swindled by a man who she came to admire (who was supposed to star in her next film). This film stars Isabelle Huppert, and she is out of this world! The control of her body and speech are unbelievable! Though a bit too long and sometimes a bit frustrating (though I’m guessing that might be the point…as dealing with an illness and its physical challenges can be much the same). The psychology of what makes people do things that seem out of character is a driving force of this film, and it’s worth seeing just for Huppert’s incredible performance.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS stars Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg – which should seal the deal to mainstream America that Radcliffe can do a lot more than play a boy wizard (many already knew this given EQUUS and other examples). Though produced by Killer Films (known for a variety of indie gems over the years – BOYS DON’T CRY, FAR FROM HEAVEN, and many many more), this film seemed more “Hollywood” than anything I saw on Day #1. This is due mostly to its simplistic script. The visual style is rather nice, and most of the performances are really quite good, but it seemed a little too easy and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot – especially in the first 20 minutes (and the use of some contemporary music killed a few moments instead of making them relatable). Overall, I came away liking several things about the film – but it’s far from being a masterpiece. (Part biopic, part thriller!…you didn’t see that coming, did you? Without the opening scene set in prison, you wouldn’t really guess the film was heading that direction.)
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE was my final film of the day. Jim Jarmusch’s vampire movie isn’t what many might suspect. It’s not at all a horror film! This is a love story about 2 sophisticated people who have lived for hundreds of years. Told in a bit of a hallucinogenic haze, this film is actually full of humorous moments and thoughtful insights to today’s world. (Tom Hiddleston’s character – who plays opposite Tilda Swinton – is contemplating suicide…due mostly to being so disenchanted with the monstrous actions of today’s human beings – who he refers to as “zombies”). Told in a languid, poetic fashion, this is a character driven film with lots of long, slowly moving scenes with beautiful music and photography. Some might find the film boring (especially if they’re looking for a traditional genre film), but I thought it was rather lovely. Tilda was NOT there! Though disappointing, it was nice to see and hear Jarmusch and Hiddleston discuss the film (I didn’t previously know who Hiddleston was…but fans were shrieking with delight when he emerged from his car). Mia Wasikowska was also in attendance. She had little to say.
3 Films today. Maybe 4!
More later! Thanks for reading!