Denver Film Festival 40 — Day One, “Lady Bird”

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Opening Night is an exciting, exhilirating time at a Film Festival. The program has launched, guests are arriving, everyone’s getting on their party shoes…and the scene is set. SThere may still be a hundred thousand details for the staff to check and double check, but there’s a feeling of pride…and relief…once the first feature is one the screen.

Opening Night Video of the Fun

One terrific thing that Denver Film Festival does is to give filmmakers and talent from the entire program the chance to walk the Red Carpet on this big night…and many others. Whether you’ve made a short film, a student work or it’s your masterpiece documentary, everyone can share this moment to strut their stuff for the cameras.

I was fortunate to see Ladybird at the Telluride Film Festival with both the director, Greta Gerwig and her talented stars, Laurie Metcalf and Tracie Letts in attendance. The question and answer session was warm and lively.  The three of them seemed relaxed and enjoyed teasing each other.  All of them praised Saoirse Ronan.  She is so natural in the role and gives another intriguing, nuanced performance as the main character.  This journey from adolescent angst to eager college freshman feels distinctly personal.  Based on Greta Gerwigs’s own upbringing in Sacramento, there are so many moments that ring true and make you cringe or cry.

Each character is infuriating real.  I loved that the Mom is so emotionally distant and the Dad is helpless to heal the fractured relationship between the daughter and mother. The costumes, settings and language brought me right back to high school.  I identified with this stubborn, ballsy gal with a yearning for a future that seems so out of her reach. A wonderful directorial debut by Greta Gerwig, Ladybird  is a film I highly recommend.

Drinks With Films Rating: 4 glasses of pretentious wine while trying to act sophisticated out of 5

#DFF40 #feminist #comingofage

UPDATE: November 16, 2017 (DENVER) – The Denver Film Society (DFS) is excited to announce a collection of films from the 40th Denver Film Festival (DFF40) to open for special engagements at the Sie FilmCenter. Among those slated to open is the recently wrapped DFF’s Opening Night Red Carpet Premiere
title, LADY BIRD.

“Lady Bird – a film for the ages – explores all that is weird and wonderful about growing up,” says Festival Director, Britta Erickson. “Greta Gerwig, who we have long admired for her acting and writing, proves she’s a triple threat with a directorial debut as sure-handed and genuine as any we’ve come across. Featuring stellar performances from Saoirse Ronan, as the feisty angst-ridden eponymous teen, and Laurie Metcalf as her loving but opinionated mother, Lady Bird earns its awards buzz. For only the second time in history, Denver Film Festival was proud to open the Festival with a film helmed by a female director. We believe it is important to continue to showcase voices underrepresented in cinema, not only at the Festival, but at our year-round home, the Sie FilmCenter.”

LADY BIRD opens at the Sie FilmCenter on November 22, with an early preview on November 21.

Click to purchase LADY BIRD tickets

 

“Frances Ha” — Indecision, in black and white

Great Gerwig & Mickey Sumner

Greta Gerwig & Mickey Sumner

There are times I feel like a character in one of the movies I’m seeing…  As I sit in the theater watching the trailer for “Frances Ha”, I think to myself, “Wow, they’re sure giving away a lot of the relationship”. Then the title appears and I realize, “DOH, this is the film I’m here to SEE!”.  So, obviously, I’m not just a passive audience member, I’m as indecisive as our heroine!

Filming in black and white, Noah Baumbach has given “Frances Ha” an older, European feel.  There’s even a John Cassavette vibe in the New York setting and the focus on intimate relationships.  The soundtrack is fantastic.  Something about the David Bowie songs and the characters exuberant walks around New York City…it’s a perfect fit.  It’s refreshing to have a coming-of-age story about a 28 year-old woman, who’s prone to some bad decisions, yet isn’t portrayed as a child.  Greta Gerwig plays Frances as an intelligent young woman with an education and a calling; just not the drive or the connections to get where she needs to go.  This is no Man-Child comedy of potty humor and pratfalls, but a sweet relationship drama that’s not focused on a romantic relationship!

Frances may be prone to moments of whacky behavior and over-sharing, but she’s not an idiot.  She may be socially-akward and she doesn’t land a hot boyfriend, but she’s kind and hopeful and loved by many.  Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig co-wrote the script and “Frances Ha” has a nice balance of characters that all seem to act their age.  There are wonderful performances by all members of the cast with well-rounded male performances that are endearing. Mickey Sumner is a delight as the best friend.

Frances hasn’t hit her stride and when she moves in with two younger men, they treat her like a whacky older sister but not as a failure.  Her main relationship is with her female best friend and the scene where she’s achieved success and looks across the room to share her triumph with the one person who truly “gets her” — is not only sweet, it’s feels like an act of empowerment…for all women!   What a change — a film featuring a woman who’s striving for success but isn’t waiting for a man, acting catty or in need of a fashion make-over to achieve her goals!

Rating: 4 glasses of French wine…purchased, unwisely, on a credit card