#TIFF20: “GOOD JOE BELL”
By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is a bit of a tough Dad. He loves his family, but he has a hard time showing it. When his son Jadin (Reid Miller) ‘comes out’ as gay, Joe is begrudgingly supportive of his decision but not at all subtle with his embarrassment. After Jadin faces an onslaught of relentless bullying at school, Joe decides to walk and speak to groups across America to raise awareness about bullying and the effects it can have on others.
Good Joe Bell is a movie with its heart in the right place. It is based on an emotional true story and addresses an important topic that is sadly more relevant than ever. And Wahlberg, while not exactly the best candidate for the lead role, has rarely ever played a character like this before. He digs a bit deeper than usual, beyond being the brash jerk who yells and swears off the cuff, and has a few moments of true introspection. You can see and feel the genuine emotional range in his patchy bearded face. It is not his best work, but his soulful turn here continues his trend of trying to stretch beyond the Bostonian wise-ass archetype he can play in his sleep. Miller is very effective as Jadin, but he takes a back seat to Wahlberg’s redemption tale far too often (which may or may not have been the best narrative choice). And even though he does not have much to do, it was positively delightful to see Gary Sinise for a bit part in the Film’s Last Act.
But having good intentions does not save Good Joe Bell from being a complete mess. The Film employs a flashback structure that works in some instances, but does more harm than good by jumbling-up the timeline. The narrative gaps are practically endless, with crucial information removed from the Film entirely in favour of a zippy running time. Worse, its initial framing device to explain the plot is abandoned less than half way into the Film. Instead of addressing it properly, the pivot is treated as a barely consequential twist. Supporting Characters exist but have literally no bearing on what happens (and barely any explanation of who they are). Motivations are thin, and the Film has a bad habit of not properly showing or telling.
All of these elements and more make Good Joe Bell a crushing disappointment, especially when taking into consideration the wonderful talent behind the camera – which includes the Oscar-winning Screenwriters of Brokeback Mountain, Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana. There is a great film buried somewhere deep within Good Joe Bell, and it is a disservice to this important story for this to be the final product.
GOOD JOE BELL screens at TIFF ’20 as follows:
Mon, Sept 14
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Fri, Sep 18
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Sat, Sep 19
TIFF Bell Lightbox
#TIFF20: FIRST ROUND OF ANNOUNCEMENTS
By Mr. Will Wong
So things will be a bit different this year amidst this pandemic. TIFF unveiled what this year’s Festival will look like and there will be physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. The Festival is still slated to go September 10–19, 2020. Film Premieres will be downsized to 50 films only including the likes of:
–Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee (United Kingdom) – starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan
–Another Round, from director Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark) starring Mads Mikkelsen
–Bruised, the debut film from director Halle Berry (USA) – she also stars
–Concrete Cowboy by filmmaker Ricky Staub (USA) starring Idris Elba and Jharrel Jerome
–Fauna, from director Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada) starring Geordy Skolnick and Sammy Mena
–Good Joe Bell by director Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA) starring Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton
–Spring Blossom, the debut film by director Suzanne Lindon (France) starring Raymond Aquaviva
–True Mothers by director Naomi Kawase (Japan) starring Arata Iura
TIFF Ambassadors will be taking part in the Festival including Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve.
Also added to the list of Ambassadors are: Hiam Abbass, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Shamier Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Gael García Bernal, Derek Cianfrance, Mark Cousins, Julie Delpy, Barry Jenkins, Jia Zhang-ke, Barbara Kopple, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Brie Larson, Kasi Lemmons, Tatiana Maslany, Carey Mulligan, Genevieve Nnaji, Alanis Obomsawin, Natalie Portman, Zachary Quinto, Isabella Rossellini, Albert Serra, Wim Wenders, Olivia Wilde and Donnie Yen.
Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine), will lead a Dialogues session and actor and producer David Oyelowo will be a guest speaker as part of the TIFF Rising Stars programme.
It remains to be seen if talent physically will be in attendance this year.
The TIFF Tribute Awards, which honoured the likes of Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix last year, also will be held once again this year. Kate Winslet wil receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award on September 15 in a virtual event.
TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey says, “The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience”.
More details to come. We appreciate so much the Festival still putting its best foot forward in trying times and you can bet our Team will still be there to deliver you coverage!
(Photo credit: Lionsgate Films)