More films to catch (or miss) at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Here are my opinions on four more films that will screen at the Mill Valley Film Festival, in order of quality.

A- Sorry We Missed You

Imagine a food that you absolutely hate, but you eat it anyway because it’s good for you. That’s the experience of seeing Ken Loach’s grim but necessary attack on the gig economy. A man struggles to make money delivering packages. In theory, he’s an independent contractor, but he’s much worse off than an employee. His wife, a nurse, is also in the gig economy. Neither of them has time to take care of their children. With almost no happy moments, Sorry We Missed You is like an empathy bomb, forcing you to care for the working poor.

  • Rafael, Saturday, October 5, 5:00
  • Sequoia, Wednesday, October 9, 9:00
  • This British film will probably be released theatrically in 2020.

B+ By the Grace of God

Decades after the crimes, the adult victims of a Catholic pedophile priest go after him in court. The film’s first 40 minutes or so is a boring slog, primarily because it focuses on a very boring man. But after a while we begin to meet other victims, and they’re much more interesting – especially the extremely troubled Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud). Meanwhile, the priest admits his crimes but treats them as minor transgressions, while the Cardinal fumbles over himself. By the end, it’s excellent. By the usually less serious François Ozon. Based on actual events.

B- The Conductor

This well-made, well-meaning, and reasonably enjoyable biopic about Antonia Brico, the first woman to conduct a major orchestra, is about as conventional as they come. The film is shot with that gauzy look that tells you the movie is set before World War II. It starts with a meet cute. She fights male chauvinism every step of the way. There are montages of her struggles, and several triumphant concerts. You want to cheer for her. She has a gay best friend. Enjoyable, but you won’t be surprised by anything.

C- Blue Hour

Two young women leave Tokyo on a road trip. One of them wants to visit relatives and try to understand her childhood. The other is along for the ride. Nothing really exceptional happens. The stars, Kaho and Shim Eun-kyung, are very good, and their characters are likable, but the screenplay rarely gives them a chance to do anything. On the good side, cinematographer Ryûto Kondô’s deep colors look almost like three-strip Technicolor, and during happy scenes, the film has the most unique and bizarre, and yet appropriate, movie music score I’ve ever heard.

  • Rafael, Saturday, October 5, 2:45
  • Rafael, Thursday, October 10, 9:15

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