On Saturday I went to the midnight screening of Halloween and didn't get home until 3am on Sunday, so I'm combining both days' recaps since one movie technically spanned both days. So far I've been having a pretty good hit rate with the movies I've chosen. I haven't hated anything, and I've been really into quite a few. One of them is on today's list! So let's get to it.
VOX LUX: This is possibly my favourite film of the festival so far (but I've been warned that's only because I haven't seen Widows yet). Natalie Portman stars and executive produces this incredibly wild ride that deals with the origin story of a turn of the century pop star, her fame, her addiction, her family and her understanding that the narrative is all that matters. After the brutal opening that I'm not sure earned its existence, the story follows Portman's Celeste through the early trappings of fame and into her adult resurgence as a star marred by both tragedy and scandal. The difference forces at play converge to create an immensely enjoyable set piece which is essentially NATALIE PORTMAN: LIVE! I enjoyed every bit of it. The film has an odd framing device and doesn't do much to justify its choices, but it embraces the absurd and forces you along for the ride. (Read my full review at Jezebel.)
BOY ERASED: Like Rafiki, this movie made me seriously contemplate the way looking and longing can be dangerous for queer people when it is weaponized against them. Boy Erased deals with a young man going to a conversion camp after admitting to his parents that his is attracted to men. Over time he comes to realize that the "therapy" is abusive and unjust, and actively harmful to the people it purports to help. Lucas Hedges does marvels with his face conveying shock, confusion, awe and terror in a flash, and Nicole Kidman recalls her Lion performance as the silent mother who finally finds her voice. The movie is difficult and frustrating largely because of the number of retrograde ideas touted as fact, but it is strong narratively and has several solid performances.
HALLOWEEN: Not having seen any of the other films in this franchise, I wasn't sure what to expect beyond the confines of the wikipedia page, but I'm happy to report that this retconned sequel to the original film is a great ride. What could easily have been a simple slasher flick is elevated by its comedy, and also its acknowledgement of the impact the original has had on the genre. Rather than opt for something silly or banal, the movie acknowledges the trauma of the movie's main characters and examines how that trauma has been passed down through generations. It's a great, fun film that I suspect will be getting great reviews.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: I think I want to write a little more about this film at some point. While I enjoyed it thoroughly, there were some glaring omissions in the narrative that recall the historical struggles of women of colour within the feminist movement. The documentary is an accomplishment though, and tackles some tough issues backed by hard data. It is a great film that puts into perspective how desperately the need for reform is within the entertainment industry, and how that lack of parity affects women at all levels.
*Header photo courtesy TIFF