We don't always think of food when we think about film festivals, but I had a few great mouthfuls yesterday that I want to shout out before diving back into movie-talk.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream has become an NaFF staple, giving away free scoops to filmgoers and staff every afternoon. But the question Jeni's generosity raises is, “Which flavor should I pick?” Patrons are given two small scoops in a dish, so you can try more than one flavor on your way to picking a favorite. Flavors change daily, but so far I recommend Dark Chocolate and Brambleberry Cream. These are great by themselves and better as a match. Pistachio & Honey starts off a bit weird, but it grows on you with each taste, and Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean seems like it would go well with anything — especially the Dark Chocolate.
If you want a more savory treat, jump over to Table 3's Market and Bakery just outside the theater's box office upstairs from the fest. For a quick breakfast at the start of the day or a grab-and-go bite between films I recommend a Ham and Cheddar Puff and a hot cup of coffee. This pastry is essentially a croissant wrapped around ham and cheese. It's simple but delicious with enough tender-yet-flaky goodness to get your tummy through a movie marathon, and enough fat and salt to cut through the effects of last night's Red Carpet cocktails. Their blueberry scone is loaded with berries and goes great with a coffee drink served up from the market's recently added espresso machine.
But now, back to the movies...
In Locke, Tom Hardy plays the title character, giving a performance that's masterfully subtle and utterly watchable. The entire movie takes place in the driver's seat of Ivan Locke's BMW on a long, nighttime trip to London that takes him out of one world and into another through the course of the film: In just about 90 minutes, Locke's life becomes utterly transformed by “one little mistake.”
Written and directed by Steven Knight, Locke has been described by other reviewers as a “thriller.” Here, there is a sense of impending doom and Ivan is clearly emotionally troubled by history shared between himself and his late estranged father. But Locke is really a family drama in which wives and mothers and children find their realities shattered by revelations that challenge the perfection that Locke seeks to impose on himself and everything around him, and that the people in his life and career have come to expect from him.
If you're going to make a movie entirely inside of a car driving down a freeway, every other aspect of the film had better be outstanding; that's the case here. The cinematography is gorgeous, and Knight's script approaches the perfection that his lead character so intensely strives for. Even the other characters in the film — whom we only hear over Locke's car's Bluetooth — somehow materialize as fully realized individuals through the voice performances of the actors and Knight's outstanding dialogue.
While the film ends suddenly and unsatisfyingly, and there are some plot points that don't quite add up, Locke takes viewers on a very unique trip and the film is a must-see for anyone who loves to watch great actors do what they do. I gave the film 4 out of 5 on my scorecard. Locke isn't scheduled for any more festival screenings, but we'll let you know if more are added.
Last night's Graveyard Shift Feature was Yann Gonzalez' take on undead sex and romance in France, You and the Night. Here, two young lovers are torn apart by war and death. After making a deal with Lucifer, they are reunited in a romantic immortality that's not always all it's cracked up to be. The film starts out as an orgy-in-the-making, but quickly becomes a series of stylized, story-telling set pieces in which each guest reveals more than their naked bodies. It's funny and bawdy and trippy and decadent, and a perfect pick for a late-night festival crowd.
Night was preceded by a short film called The Voice Thief, directed by Adan Jodorowsky and starring his brother Cristobal and Asia Argento — which makes this the product of the second generation of two of world cinema's most outlandish filmmakers. They make their fathers proud here with a tale about an opera singer who loses her voice. This outrageous fable is packed full of elaborate psychedelic sets, gorgeous costumes, dramatic lighting, stylized visuals and sound design, nudity, sodomy, rape, murder, blasphemous iconography, several gallons of milky white fluid and a killer soundtrack — all of that in only 22 minutes! I loved it.
Two music films that will premiere today are both generating a lot of buzz at the fest: The Winding Stream tells the tale of the Carter and Cash country music dynasties. It makes its Tennessee debut tonight at 7 p.m. Take Me to the River celebrates the inter-generational and interracial musical legacy of Memphis. It makes its Tennessee debut tonight at 6:45. This flick is my Red Carpet pick of the night as many of the film's musical luminaries will be in attendance — including William Bell, who co-wrote the timeless blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign” with Booker T. Jones.
Happy Easter, everybody. See you at the fest!