Like last year, a friend of mine and I again went to a one-day film festival this year. It was held this past Sunday in several Pathé cinemas across the country, with each cinema running the same programme. The day started at 10.30 am, ended at 11 pm and we could hog our seats in the same theatre all day. We saw 5 movies in that time and there seemed to be a theme this time around (although it wasn’t advertised as such): true stories!
The first movie we saw was Jackie (see trailer).
The movie is about the aftermath of the John F Kennedy assassination, told from the viewpoint of his widow Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman). She is interviewed shortly after the funeral by a journalist (Billy Crudup) and that interview is the thread throughout the whole story. The portrayal by Portman is fascinating, a woman filled with grief and mixed feelings, struggling to honour her dead husband properly, a woman who is insecure but at the same time she knows exactly what she wants and will take no crap. Billy Crudup really struck me as the interviewer. I vaguely knew his face and when I checked his credits later I realize I have seen several movies with him in it but I had never noticed him until now!
Portman was very good as Jackie Kennedy and Crudup did things to my insides with his intent gaze. The recently deceased John Hurt played a small, lovely role and when he came on, tears sprung to my eyes! I hadn’t realised he was in this and I loved him (and his voice).
However, I was never actually blown away, for some reason (although I did develop a little crush on Crudup in the movie). Maybe this is something more ingrained into the US psyche than the European one and therefore feels a bit distant? I don’t really know what it was, but it was a good movie, even though it wasn’t great, in my humble view.
We had a lunch break and then went on to the second movie called Their Finest (see trailer).
A young woman (Gemma Arterton) in WWII London thinks she is being hired as a secretary but is hired to write women’s dialogue for a British propaganda film. She teams up with two scriptwriters where she works especially closely with one of them (Sam Claflin). Bill Nighy plays the older has-been actor who gets a part in the propaganda film. This movie is not necessarily a true story but it certainly could have been! The movie is a bit of a romantic comedy, Bill Nighy has the most comic part and does it brilliantly but Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are great too. I know Sam Claflin and already like him (though melodramatic, I thought he was great in Me Before You) but my friend really discovered him on Sunday and has fallen a little bit in love. 🙂 The movie is feel good and light, champions women, but also has some darkness and yes, even tragedy, which even made me gasp at one point. Yep, I loved this movie!
After a 20 minute break, it was on to the next one. This time a German movie called Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben (see trailer, sorry couldn’t find one with English subtitles).
This is based on the true story of a young man (Kostja Ullmann) who dreams of training and working in the best hotels. There is, however, a problem: he only has 5% vision, so is virtually blind! No hotel will take him with his handicap and so he decides to apply for a hotel traineeship at an exclusive hotel without telling anyone he can’t see. With the help of his family and the friends he makes at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel that hires him, he is able to do well! Until, at some point, everything threatens to unravel because of his bad eyesight… This was another light-hearted movie, with some sad elements as well, and all the more amazing because it is based on a true story. At the end the real man who inspired this movie is also briefly shown. Yes, we enjoyed this one!
After the German movie we had a one and a half hour break for dinner. We went to a nearby Sushi restaurant which was delicious. Service was quick and we made it back just in time for the 4th movie, Hidden Figures (see trailer).
This was the movie I was most looking forward to! It’s the true story of three African-American women struggling to do work that challenges them at NASA in the early 1960s. The movie centres mostly around mathematician Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson) who struggles to show what she really is worth in a white man’s team of scientists. Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson who struggles to become an engineer at NASA and to do so must get her qualifications from an all-white college. Her speech at the court is one of the highlights of the movie. And then there is Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), smart mathematician and shrewd supervisor who fights for her women’s team and must stand up against white supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst). While I really liked Katherine’s geekiness and Mary’s spunk, I loved Dorothy’s humourous fierceness. And when at the end of the movie Vivian finally treats Dorothy with the respect she deserves, that was the one part of the movie that made tears spring to my eyes. This movie was pretty much exactly what the trailer promises and I loved it.
After another 20 minute break, we saw the last movie called Gold (see trailer).
This was the movie I was least looking forward to because I really don’t like Matthew McConaughey very much. It’s a movie about a sleazy mineral prospector digging for gold in Indonesia and getting investors on board to help make the dream of finding gold come true. This movie is also based on a true story! McConaughey is sleazy, and not just because of the way he looks in this. I really do not understand how he could get such a good-hearted girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard). The story was well told but I just hated that seedy, greedy feeling throughout the movie. While McConaughey really acts very well (and dares to look awful!), I just could not warm up to this movie, just like I could never warm up to The Wolf of Wall Street for the same reason, which received all sorts of accolades a few years back. Still, because it was well acted and well-told it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
The movies last year had been more harrowing (especially Room which had literally made me sob), the movies this year were a little lighter and my friend and I had a really great time! We certainly want to do this again next year. 🙂
And just to shake off the McConaughey feeling I now have, here are some lovely pictures to look at of my latest crush, Lucas Bryant (click on images to enlarge). 🙂 These are all stills from his latest project Shoot the Messenger, where he plays an investigative journalist and which is really quite good! I hope a follow-up season will be made!