TELLURIDE FILM FEST
Out of nowhere, British filmmaker Danny Boyle has burst back into the spotlight this year with his latest film, Slumdog Millionaire. Not only did I absolutely love it when I saw it at its world premiere, but its gone on to earn incredible praise from critics worldwide. I had the honor of meeting Boyle at an afterparty in Telluride and interviewing him the following morning. Boyle is one of the most down-to-earth and incredibly outgoing directors I've ever met, and that's not an exaggeration. Not only is he excited to talk about every last detail about filmmaking, but he's so nice that it was like chatting with a close friend about movies at an early morning breakfast. I'm pretty damn sure this is an interview you don't want to miss.
Telluride has all the makings of a truly unforgettable film festival, but it's missing one thing - a great line-up of films. As the first leg of my whirlwind film festival tour comes to an end, I'm already looking forward to the next trip and more great films, but it's not without getting some of the less interesting flicks out of the way and out of my mind. I had a fantastic time at Telluride, met some wonderful people, and enjoyed every last minute in the small mountain town, but the films never got any better. Luckily I was cable to catch roughly four exceptional films: Flame and Citron, Slumdog Millionaire, Flash of Genius, and The Good, The Bad, and The Weird. There's no denying that I absolutely love film festivals, but it was a bit of a challenge to remain excited at Telluride when the selection was so bad.
As a finale to the Telluride Film Festival and as my last screening, I saw The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, an immensely fun and absurdly badass Asian spaghetti western. I've been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to see this film ever since I first caught the trailer back in May. After finally seeing it, I can definitely say it delivers so much more than I expected. This film is playing at every big festival - Cannes, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, and Fantastic Fest - and that should tell you a bit more than just that it's a great festival film - it's a fantastic cinematic experience as well. Although I enjoyed the culture and storytelling in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, I had an exceptionally fun time watching this.
Two more film from Telluride today and both were an immense let down. I wasn't specifically looking forward to either, but Hunger did win the Camera d'Or at Cannes earlier this year. As for Helen, it was an off-the-wall choice given there wasn't much else that sounded good in that time slot. Both films were lackluster at best with problems aplenty, but certainly festival films. Each one might be called artistic in its own right, but unfortunately didn't have any real entertaining merits or actual filmmaking values. There is one common thread amongst both - the cinematography was exquisite - but that's about it.
Both films completely burned me out, so I've decide to combine my reviews into one short article. I don't have much to say about either them anyway, besides that they weren't that great.
Located at an elevation of 8,750 feet and nestled within the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the small town of Telluride plays host to one of this country's best film fests. This is my first year in attendance at the Telluride Film Festival and it's been an immensely pleasurable experience so far. The film selection isn't the greatest this year, but the atmosphere, the community, the town, the people, and everything about this fest has otherwise been wonderful. Instead of writing daily reports, I'm splitting up my write up on this fest into two pieces, and this is the first. Telluride is a lot like Sundance - set in a charming mountain town - but much smaller and quieter, a different experience that so far I've thoroughly enjoyed.
Do you believe in destiny? Last night I caught the world premiere at Telluride of Danny Boyle's latest film, Slumdog Millionaire, and it was an absolute blast. I haven't been this thoroughly entertained at a film festival since I saw The Escapist at Sundance in January. At its core, Slumdog is a love story about a boy who just won't give up, but it's wrapped around his short life story about winning the Hindi version of the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" game show. The film is a two hour lesson on Indian culture taught vividly by Danny Boyle and adorned by beautiful cinematography and an incredible music selection. However, it's still one of the most excitingly cultured mainstream films that's all about life, love, and destiny.
Following my screening of Flame and Citron, I caught Bent Hamer's O'Horten, an amusing drama about the life of a train engineer from Norway after he retires. Bård Owe charmingly embodies a lonely conductor who has driven a train through the snowy mountains of Norway for over 40 years. When he finally retires, and misses his last train due to a faulty door at a friend's apartment, he spends his next few days meeting new friends and getting into all sorts of quirky mishaps. Unfortunately the film is a bit too slow and a bit too sloppy to be truly entertaining, but there are some magical moments that had me smiling.
My second film of Telluride and it's a delightful surprise. Flame & Citron is a film from Danish director Ole Christian Madsen starring Mads Mikkelsen and Thure Lindhardt. Tinged with noir and unlike anything I've seen before, the film is a WWII drama about two resistance fighters, nicknamed Flame and Citron, whose job it is to drive around Denmark and kill German officers and other individuals who are helping the Germans. It is undoubtedly a very powerful and very well-made film, but there are some amateur aspects that detract from the the overall quality, including some cinematography choices and its excruciating length. However, it's still a fine film and fantastic achievement for Madsen and his two stars.
My first event here at the Telluride Film Festival was a tribute to David Fincher, arguably one the best filmmakers currently working in Hollywood. The tribute featured about 45 minutes of clips from his previous filmography, an incredibly lengthy and somewhat boring on-stage interview (thanks to Variety's unexciting critic Todd McCarthy as the interviewer), and roughly 20 minutes of select footage from his upcoming film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Highlights from Fincher's Q&A included referencing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the the film that sparked his interest in filmmaking as well as mentioning I Saw What You Did, Jaws, and Rear Window as the movies that he remembers most as a kid. And as for the Benjamin Button footage - it unfortunately wasn't that great.