By some miracle, I made it to every single one of my five films today. I’m still congested and I’m currently sipping on some honey and lemon to try to make sure I make it through tomorrow’s five films, but I’m glad I made the effort even though I thought I would die. Today’s films were right up my alley and demonstrated to me that I have a very clear sense of what my taste is when it comes to movies. Today was a good day!
FIRST MAN: This is the only film I didn’t love. It wasn’t terrible, but considering that it’s already getting Oscar buzz, I expected a lot more. The performances are pretty wooden, especially Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong. And while there were some gorgeous scenes on the moon and some brilliant use of sound design, it felt stilted and uncomfortable. I have to assume it’s just not up my alley.
DUELLES (MOTHER’S INSTINCT): I’m not entirely sure what drew me to this little French thriller, but I’m so glad I saw it. It is exquisitely acted and does an amazing job changing the perspective enough to leave you just a little bit unsure about who is responsible for all the curiously dangerous things that keep happening. The ending annoyed me a bit because I prefer my villains punished, but the movie really uses the gaslighting trope to create a tense atmosphere that’s begging for release.
THE PUBLIC: This was on my list from the second I saw the trailer. Emilio Estevez directs a not quite tense story that deals with homelessness, addiction and public services centered on the occupation of a public library by its local homeless patrons as they seek refuge from the historic cold of Cincinnati. The performances are strong and the banter is funny and quippy in a way you wouldn’t expect given how quickly the situation devolves into danger. Definitely recommend it, if only for the issues it raises about the disdain we have for people on the margins.
COLETTE: I was delighted by how much I loved this movie. Expectedly fantastic performances from Kiera Knightly and Dominic West and a surprisingly good turn from newcomer Denise Gough as Colette’s trans lover. I loved the way the story deals with the abusive power dynamic between Colette and Willy and how she learns to take control of her life and ownership of her work. It’s a coming out story across 20 years and a feminist tale of reclamation. I loved it.
THE WEEKEND: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film, but it was a pleasant surprise. It turns out that Sasheer Zameta is pretty good when given some decent material to work through. This is the exact kind of aimless, mumblecore, character driven story that white people get to make all the time, and it was great seeing it cast with only black people, dealing with the mundanities of a protracted breakup. It was fun and funny and treats the inner life of a black woman seriously. Really enjoyed it.
*Header photo courtesy TIFF