The scheduling exercise involved ensuring that there was no overlaps and sufficient times between movies. This included not only the movie run-time plus the Question and Answer (Q&A) session if available, but also the wait time in the line-ups to get into the theatres (usually 1 hour or more to get the seats of our choice - 2 seats together, not too close to the screen but close enough to take photos of the movie stars), plus travel time to get between theatres that could be as far as 3.5km apart. There was also the consideration of which screening to go to for each movie. Attending the first screening almost guarantees your chance of seeing the director and possibly actors of the movie and receiving a Q&A session. The chances diminish if you attend the second screening and are practically nil by the third and last screening. So where possible, we tried schedule first screenings for films with topics that would provide interesting discussions, or had good stars in the cast. This logistic challenge was greatly aided by my favourite tool, the trusty spreadsheet with its filtering and colour-coding capabilities.
While it would be unrealistic to expect all 31 of my picks to be winners, this year even the relatively "bad" ones were not horrible. I did not get that "I've just wasted 2 hours of my life that I can never get back" feeling from previous years. And there were many more movies that I thoroughly enjoyed including a good mix of smaller films, foreign language films, documentaries and mainstream Hollywood fare. The following are some of my favourite movies of 2014.
With alternating solos, Cathy starts at the end of their relationship and moves backwards towards the beginning when they first meet, while Jamie sings chronologically from the beginning until the end. In the theatre production, Cathy and Jamie are never on stage at the same time, except for when their timelines meet in the middle and they get married, and also at the end when Cathy is glowingly saying goodbye after their first date while Jamie is sadly saying goodbye to their union.
The movie, starring Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and Jeremy Jordan (Smash), is a brilliant adaptation whose settings and visuals perfectly captured the images that I envisioned while listening to the soundtrack. Unlike the theatre version, Cathy and Jeremy are in the scenes of each other's solos, interacting and reacting to what is being sung to them. The time jumps are made obvious not only by the tone and lyrics of the songs, but through clothing, hairstyles, colours and lighting. The happy scenes representing the beginning of the relationship are brightly lit with the characters wearing rich, vibrant colours. Towards the end of the relationship, both the lighting and the clothes become dark and somber.
In the final scene that depicts both Jamie at the end and Cathy at the beginning, there is contrasting lighting to represent the two timelines. Jamie sits in a darkly lit room writing a goodbye letter, while through the window, you can see Cathy standing outside the apartment on a bright sunny day. The point of view switches to Cathy waving goodbye after their first date, but through the darkened window, you see Jamie at the desk writing his letter.
Chris Evans (Captain America) directs and stars with Alice Eve in Before We Go, a delightfully refreshing romantic comedy that does not follow the traditional "boy meets girl-boy loses girl-boy gets girl back" trope. Nick is a musician who comes to New York for an audition. He meets a frantic Brooke, who is desperate to get home to Boston before morning, but misses the last train after having her purse stolen. Together, they wander around Manhattan through the night, trying different schemes to raise enough money to get her home. Along the way, they develop a friendship, find out each other's back stories and help each other with respective problems. Chris Evans does a great job as a first time director. He talked about wanting to capture special little memorable moments throughout the film and he certainly succeeds in doing so.
Overall though, this was a very good festival year and we were pleased with most of our picks.