Brief notes on three more TIFF pictures
Maybe I would be a fan of Jan Hrebejk if I saw more of his pictures? He's been submitted three times for Oscar consideration in Best Foreign Film but of the three I've only seen his most recent Kawasaki Rose which I liked quite a lot. We don't yet know if the Czech Republic will submit his latest, Honeymoon, but it's an involving drama about our past selves and how well we know the ones we love. I really liked the gradual unfolding of its story-puzzle which takes place during a wedding weekend in which an uninvited gayish stranger spoils the proceedings for the bride and groom though they don't quite know why. Or maybe someone does but they're not saying. The relationships were intriguing and the groom is the sexiest ginger bearded actor this side of Fassbender. Though it maybe pushes too hard aesthetically in its climax, the final shots really moved me.
Of note: Fans of Nastassia Kinski will be delighted at the marquee treatment she receives here. She's not in the film but her late 70s early 80s stardom is a key plot point. B/B+
François Ozon and a British Costume Drama after the jump
YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL
The latest picture from one of the world's sexiest directors (François Ozon) charts the erotic awakening of a beautiful 17 year old over the course of one year. The movie is divided up into seasons starting with her 17 year old birthday summer. If you can get past her skeletal body in certain angles of certain shots, lead actress Marine Vacth is more than an apt visual description of the movie's title. At first Young & Beautiful feels like a generic French coming of age tale, a Pauline at the Beach with much less character but as the girl grows more confident in her sexuality, the film becomes darker, more involving and weirder though still and always very French. Ozon is smart enough to broaden the scope so we're not just getting sexual promiscuity but a family portrait, too. I loved the final spring chapter, the will she or wont she ambiguities, and the "liberal but not that liberal!" backfire frankness of her family. But something was missing for me. When it was over I tweeted this.
Cinephiles don't appreciate François Ozon enough -- is it because he rsvps to The Great Directors party but never *quite* shows up?— Nathaniel Rogers (@nathanielr) September 8, 2013
The tweet started a healthy conversation but afterwards I wondered if I was too harsh. Ozon has done great or at least near-great work multiple times, his peak being that one-two-three punch of Water Drops on Burning Rocks, Under the Sand and 8 Women (2000-2002) If you've never seen those pictures you're in for a treat. This one is worth a tumble, too, if you're in a French awakening mood.
Of note: Frequent Ozon muse Charlotte Rampling (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) appears late in the film, and is as marvelous as ever. B
I started writing a huge-ass piece on this one, a British period drama, but it kinda got away from me morphing into three different reviews each of them wanting to be longer still. Then I discovered that the movie isn't due until May of next year so abort...abort. I hope they take this time to do some fine tuning. Or even reshoots! It's a true story about a young biracial girl raised as a sort of half member of a wealthy powerful white family in England when slavery was legal and the part she played in a history-shaking decision involving the highest court in the land. This historical anecdote is great fascinating drama but the execution is all over the freaking place. In a year filled with a rare generous helping of films about racial identity and cruel systemic political inequality it doesn't have the weird pizazz of Lee Daniels' The Butler, the brute force of 12 Years or the clear immediacy of Fruitvale Station so holding it until 2014 is the right idea. No Grade
Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double Feature: Tom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars