At TIFF 2018, it’s all about the music

Movies: #TIFF18, Toronto International Film Festival

The soundtrack of movies can leave you with the exhilaration of the dance floor, or bring you down into the existential angst of neo-noir

By Jay Stone

(September 8, 2018) TORONTO — There was a great moment at the movies this morning, near the end of Gloria Bell, Sebastian Lelio’s English-language remake of his own 2013 drama Gloria. Julianne Moore, replacing Chilean actress Paulina Garcia in the original, stars as a 50ish divorcee — are they still called that? — who has a productive but somewhat lonely life that she spices up by going to dance clubs and letting herself get lost in the candy sounds of disco. A romance with a divorced man (John Turturro), who seems not quite totally divorced, disrupts her balance, but in the final scene, we see Moore back on the dance floor, raising her arms and swaying from side to side as Laura Branigan sings the old hit Gloria.

You can sometimes forget the importance of music in movies, but Gloria Bell is infused with it and the final scene caused the tingle you sometimes get at the back of your neck when you’re in the presence of movie magic. People may complain about this film — the remake seems designed to appeal to American audiences who wouldn’t go to a Spanish-language film with an unknown star — but Moore is terrific and the movie (a virtual copy of the original) is a beautifully told story of the ups and downs of a middle-aged affair.

If you danced out of the theatre to Gloria, you left the next film on today’s agenda, Out of Blue, in a much more somber mood. Directed by British filmmaker Carol Morley, it is a neo-noir starring poor old Patricia Clarkson as a New Orleans police detective — who appears to be suffering from a free-floating existential angst — investigating the death of an astrophysicist under the stars of an open planetarium.

You can sometimes forget the importance of music in movies, but Gloria Bell is infused with it and the final scene caused the tingle you sometimes get at the back of your neck when you’re in the presence of movie magic.

From the strange title, which sounds like a house-painter explaining why some of the walls are green, to the ontological metaphors (the film meanders among notions of heavenly particles forming human beings and the metaphysical paradox of Shrodinger’s cat that can be both alive and dead at the same time), Out of Blue is a mess. Based on a novel by Martin Amis called Night Train, it seems to be striving for the surreal ambiguity of a David Lynch movie, a notion it underlines with its haunting theme song, I’ll Be Seeing You. Thus we learn that a movie cannot get by on music alone.

Now it was time for The Image Book, the new Jean-Luc Godard movie, of which I watched 30 minutes that I will never get back. It is a series of images, mostly violent and many from movies, that have been manipulated into hazy or solarized flashes: people being shot, a bomb exploding, a bunch of naked people on their hands and knees being led into a room on leashes. Sometimes it goes silent; sometimes we hear dialogue, or a voice-over declaiming various incomprehensible aphorisms. It’s a montage of pessimism.

Godard seems to have gone past narrative film, and connection with an audience, into an area of cinema so pure it’s unwatchable. The aural landscape, as we like to call it in film class, is comprised of occasional bursts of classical music that are in danger of waking you up. It could have used some Laura Branigan.

@theexdashpress

Keep checking in with The Ex-Press for full festival coverage and reviews over the course of the festival, which runs September 6-16. For more details on each film, please visit the official TIFF site

THE EX-PRESS, September 8, 2018

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