Thursday, September 5, 2013

Telluride Buzz

     The 40th Telluride Film Festival has concluded and it appears it was, as expected, a very successful fest. Many new films made their US premiere's at the festival and the two that seem to have the biggest buzz are Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave and Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. McQueen, a world-class filmmaker and talented as hell, will probably have one of the more challenging films of the fall. A film that, evidently, presents slavery in all its physical and mental horrors. The lead in the film, the extremely talented Chiwetel Ejiofor, appears to have been stellar in the role and Michael Fassbender, who plays an evil slave owner, also got great raves and notices. The other film, Gravity, is one of those mind-bending sci-fi films that will probably be the most important in the genre since Kubrick's masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. A film that is a non-stop thrill ride as astronauts, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, become separated and drift off into space. This is great news, being that both of these films are ones I cannot wait to see this fall. McQueen and Cuaron are two of the most talented filmmakers and always make challenging, entertaining work. These two films seem to be poised for much awards attention and have come storming out of the gates. Emmanuel Lubezki better get every award for Best Cinematography. It is about time.
     Other films that got great notices were the Palme d'Or winning, coming-of-age, French lesbian drama Blue Is the Warmest Color, which is going to be an amazing film, and the upcoming September released thriller Prisoners, from Denis Villeneuve. I already now that Blue Is the Warmest Color is a must-see, but I was not so sure on Prisoners. Now, I am really intrigued to see this slow-paced thriller that stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, and revolves around the abduction and search for two missing young girls in Pennsylvania. This is a moment when positive word of mouth gives me the added interest to see a film after the trailer sort of lessens the desire.
     Three films that had their initial premieres at the Cannes Film Festival, Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis, starring Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan, Alexander Payne's Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, and J.C. Chandor's All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford, also had their US premieres at the festival. All received glowing reviews, especially the Coen's film, and all appear to be on track to be very successful, engaging films. All three of these films are on my Top Ten list and I am really looking forward to seeing what Redford does in All Is Lost and how Bruce Dern is in Nebraska. Two legendary actors working with really talented filmmakers. Also, glad to see the Coen's working with John Goodman again and I can tell, from the trailers, that Isaac is going to be tremendous. Actor on the rise.
     Another film that was screened at Telluride that received positive notices was Jason Reitman's upcoming drama Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. A single mom and her son pick up a convict and learn about his complicated situation while he is in their care. The film seems to be a shift in tone for Reitman, but also a sentimental one as well. It apparently is less satirical and sarcastic, and more dramatic. Change is good and I am looking forward to seeing this one, if nothing else for the obvious fine acting talents from Winslet and Brolin.
     Another film that caught my eye, or ear, being that I was just reading posts and mini-reviews from columnists like, Jeffery Wells at, Kristopher Tapley at and Sasha Stone at, all great writers, was Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson. A film that is apparently very well-made, but also highly unique and divisive. The film revolves around an alien, in human form, that hunts her prey in Scotland. I do not know when this film will be released, but it is doing the festival circuit and will hopefully get a release date soon. Glazer is a talented filmmaker, but has only made two films in over 13 years, the fantastic Sexy Beast (2000) and the underrated Birth (2004).
     In my opinion, this is all great news and these are just a few of the films that were shown at the festival. This appears to have been a great festival and definitely seems to have stolen some of the sparkle away from the more glamorous Venice Film Festival, which did not get as many exciting releases as Telluride, with the exception of having the world premiere of Gravity and also screened Under the Skin. The festival circuit appears to be a wild ride, but eventually I am going to get to go to one of these huge fests and, hopefully, it is not too far away. There is something exciting about seeing a film for the first time and that first time being the first ever showing. My little journey through this years South by Southwest Film Festival was a great introduction to a film fest and I cannot wait to hear about all the films that will be showing at the currently running Toronto Film Festival. Great time for movies.

Credit by Telluride Film Festival and Dean Tavoularis.

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