Halfway through the festival, my longest day: Six interviews! Here are the headlines:
Michael Nyqvist (Colonia): The star of the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy has a Christopher Walken-quality to him.
Andrew Haigh (director of 45 Years): The filmmaker has the best film of the festival, but he doesn’t seem to know it. Humble, interesting fella.
Anders Thomas Jensen (director of Men & Chicken): According to Jensen, star Mads Mikkelsen is more like the socially inept lead of his film than the suave Hannibal.
Burghart Klaubner and Lars Kraume (lead and director of The People vs. Fritz Bauer): Important German movie, committed team. I told them I was originally from Chile and Klaubner went on singing “Venceremos”.
Atom Egoyan (Remember): The Canadian is in fine form following his best movie since The Sweet Hereafter. He may take a break after this one.
Nanni Moretti (My Mother): Interviews through translators slow the proceedings to a crawl. Add Moretti’s thoughtful responses and you could be typing in real time.
Spotlight (USA, 2015): If you were concerned about Tom McCarthy’s otherwise spotless filmography following The Cobbler, you shouldn’t be. The writer/director is in fighting form in Spotlight, a dramatization of the Boston Globe‘s coverage of the Catholic Church systematic cover-up of cases of child molestation in 2001.
An ensemble piece that follows the All the President’s Men model to a fault, Spotlight xeroxes on the journalists and editors that exposed the Boston Archdiocese’s practices when dealing with pedophile priests, as opposed to tackling individual cases. It also highlights the necessity of investigative and long form journalism, an endangered species in the era of infotainment and Buzzfeed.
There is certain coldness to Spotlight that may turn off some folks. I found it refreshing. The film doesn’t revel on the victims’ pain. All the emotion comes from watching the crack journalistic team at work, from the top echelon to the foot soldiers. Spotlight features a highly competent and likeable cast, including Michael Keaton (who is curiously good at playing journalists), Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams and a twitchy Mark Ruffalo. My only problem with the movie is the title: Sounds like someone somewhere is hoping for a franchise. Four rightfully angry prairie dogs.
Brooklyn (UK/Ireland/Canada, 2015): Not the most fashionable subgenre anymore, the period drama can provide a powerful experience if properly done. While traditional to a fault, Brooklyn has several factors running for it: A powerhouse performance by Saorise Ronan, Nick Hornby’s mighty pen and the timelessness of the immigrant plea.
Ronan (Hanna, Atonement) is Eilis, an Irish maid who –facing few opportunities at home- decides to try her luck across the Atlantic and leave her mom and sister behind. While never entirely over her homesickness, Eilis inches towards a career in accounting and meets an Italian fella with whom she falls in love. An unexpected event sends her back to the Irish countryside. The homeland is a lot more welcoming this time around (job offer, a suitor), enough to make her reconsider her return to Brooklyn.
True, the plot is not particularly ground-breaking, but Saoirse Ronan and director John Crowley (Boy A) keep it breezy and fun. The insane chemistry between Ronan and relative newcomer Emory Cohen makes Hornby’s dialogue crackle and their romance, quite moving. Just as good are the boarding house scenes, in which a stern Julie Walters tries to provide some wisdom to her young and perky tenants.
As date movies go, you could do a lot worse. Three wistful prairie dogs.
Tomorrow: Just one interview! I may actually get to watch movies.