By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall September 13, 2005 at 3:49AM
What a couple of days. As the weekend turned into a new week, the crowds at the Press screenings have grown and grown to the point where the lines have stretched and beyond the concession stands, into the utility hallways and back outside the theater for today's screenings of Mary Harron'sThe Notorious Bettie Page and Atom Egoyan's Where The Truth Lies*. That said, despite the throngs of increasingly pushy press folk, most of the films I have seen have failed to live up to my hopeful expectations. Tonight, head down and somewhat depressed for having worked my way through so many films, I made my way to the Cumberland Theater. And then, it happened. Finally, after days of so-so screenings, a film to talk about; Michael Cuesta's outstanding tragi-comedy Twelve And Holding.
The film is an extension of his powerful work in L.I.E. and is made with a mastery of tone that had me laughing, cringing and ultimately, profoundly moved. I don't want to give too much away, but the film revolves around the tragic death of a child, and the impact that death has on his friends, family, and his twin brother. Like L.I.E., Twelve and Holding deals with children in precariously adult situations for which they do not have the social and emotional experience required to succeed. And so, we know that our early laughs at the kid's awkward attempts at 'embracing life' and attempts to deal with their losses and new hopes will pay off with uncomfortable emotions later on, but that doesn't keep Cuesta from completely earning big laughs and big cringes. The most wonderful part of the film is that these emotional responses feel legitimate and real; the kid's actions feel earned. Earned emotions in story, performances, and direction have been in extremely short supply at this year's festival, so watching Cuesta's film was doubly satisfying because it scratched an itch that I have been feeling for days; a satisfying fiction film experience. I hope someone picks this film up very soon. I am not sure how it could be marketed, but it should be seen by a wider audience. This is one I would love to bring to the festival. I hope the timing works.
Tomorrow is the SFF party, and I am hoping that we have a good turn out. In the meantime, my schedule is packed; I have scheduled 4 films before 6:00pm...
Gentille (excited to see Emmanuelle Devos!)
Un Couple Parfait (and excited to see Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi!)
Let's keep it rollin'....
* How did Where The Truth Lies earn an NC-17? Outrageous! The film is interesting despite some casting issues, but it is by no means an NC-17 film. Shame (again) on the MPAA. The system is broken and must be fixed!!!