[What Did Jaci Think? Early October]

First off, a few more days of French Cinema Now. There’s a lot in these festivals that I excuse because, you know, it’s French, but I had a hard time with 2 Hours from Paris. It’s a film about a young mother traveling with her 15 year old daughter to her hometown to steal hairs from the heads of various men to discover who the daughter’s father is. It’s largely a sweet, goofy road trip movie, and I appreciated the general lack of judgement around the mother’s sexuality, but I could not get over the fact that so many significantly older men had had sex with a teenager & we were all supposed to be cool with it. Sorry, France, I’m not cool with it.

Anyway, the most interesting of that batch were Sofia (about a girl in Casablanca with pregnancy denial, and how the women in her family work together to find the least worst solution) & A Season in France (about a refugee family, which I found interesting all the way until it centered the white woman at the end.)

The first half of A Star Is Born worked better than the second, and Lady Gaga was terrific, but as much as I wanted to love the film, I decidedly did not. I did not love how she was the only woman (and how that did not feel like a choice), I did not love how a Sam Elliott impression was subbed in for characterization (and then was lampshaded!), and I did not love how the second half of the film was a series of scenes with no emotional arc connecting them. Before it came out I plowed through three of the four original films, and if you have FilmStruck, you have about five more minutes in which to watch George Cukor’s What Price Hollywood. It predates the first SIB by a few years, and it is great.

Oh, Venom. Deeply weird about gender, deeply creepy about relationships, but on the other hand you have Tom Hardy screaming like a little girl, and I am here for that and also for Riz Ahmed doing his best Elon Musk. Basically, it’s terrible – and also ugly, with all the digital artifacts – but once the symbiote shows up, it is also ridiculously entertaining. So there you go. (I never need to see Tom Hardy eat chicken in extreme closeup ever again.)

The best stuff I saw this go-round was definitely all on the documentary front: Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (one of the best documentaries of the year), Kusama: Infinity (portrait of a genius), & Making Montgomery Clift (a reclaiming of joy and agency in the life of a queer icon, a story that the team behind Bohemian Rhapsody should have watched – more on that later).