Friday, November 2, 2018

A delightfully goofy LA noir

More reviews from the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) in the order I saw the films. The festival continues until Sunday.

I must say I was disappointed in Becoming Astrid (Pernille Fischer Christensen, 2018). Sure, this period piece measures up in all the parameters – the setting is realistic and performance by newcomer Alba August as beloved children’s author Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking) is fine. But my expectation was this would be about showing how Lindgren became a great author. There are some moments – such as her wit and sarcasm, even at an early age, and some creative stories she makes up out of thin air, to the disdain of her religious parents. But this movie really is a story of Astrid’s strict upbringing, her first love and the travails raising her child. There is nothing about developing her craft.

I know The Happy Prince (Rupert Everett, 2018) is a great film because Colin Firth seemed so good in it, the costumes and editing are sumptuous, as is the cinematography (John Conroy) in its soft shades of gold and brown, almost chiaroscuro. But I confess to have lost interest about a quarter of the way in. Perhaps it was the difficulty of discerning the English accents, perhaps it was simply me in an afternoon stupor. Other people seemed to enjoy it. So, I’ll rest without saying anything more.

My second fave of the festival so far is Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018) (Mitchell is a Clawson MI native). This is a wholly bizarre humorous take on many things L. A. – the music and movie industries, the Hollywood Hills, swimming pools, slacker culture, zines, and cool people. Our hero, Sam (Andrew Garfield) can’t understand how a voluptuous neighbor he just met can disappear overnight. This sets him on a trail into subterranean Los Angeles – figuratively and literally – with a colossal amount of goofball twists and turns that might not have worked in any other director’s hands but in Mitchell’s ably do.

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