TELLURIDE FILM FEST
A few weeks back when I was at the Telluride Film Festival, my friend Peter Sciretta (of SlashFilm) and I caught up with Oscar nominated director Jason Reitman to talk about his new film Up in the Air, which we had both just seen (read my review). As you know, from my coverage of Telluride, the gondola at the resort was our main mode of transportation. So we decided to conduct our interview in the gondola as it was "up in the air" (get it!) during its 23 minute run from where we got on. Not only was that quite fun, but it was probably the best interview we've ever done, and it is a definite must watch (no spoilers in it either)!
I love film festivals. Have I mentioned that before? And with Telluride coming to an end, and Toronto about to kick off, it's time to recap my thoughts on one festival before moving on to another. Telluride is one of my favorite fests, I'll be attending every year, without a doubt. As a quick refresher, last year was the first year I attended. I got to see Slumdog Millionaire and The Good, The Bad, and The Weird and a few other great films. We all know what happened to Slumdog after, so this year there was a lot of anticipation - would we see the next Best Picture winner again? While there are some great films, I don't think there's a winner.
Not to be confused with Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant from 1992, this newest film from German director Werner Herzog, one of two he premiered at Telluride, is not a remake. Instead, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is sort of a re-imaging, a maniacal, over-the-top tale about a Police Lieutenant from New Orleans who gets wrapped up in way too many drugs. Let me be frank - I underestimated Herzog, as I was expecting this to be utter trash, but it was almost the complete opposite. It was impressively well-made and actually quite amusing to watch, thanks to Nicolas Cage's fully overboard and wacko performance.
Beautifully bleak. That's the best way to describe John Hillcoat's The Road, which I saw yesterday evening in Telluride. Although it's a rather depressing story overall, it's told with such an incredible amount of vigor and passion, that it's actually possible to enjoy. Especially because director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Joe Penhall made sure to keep the integrity of Cormac McCarthy's novel intact and stay as true to his words as possible. It seems like a near impossible book to adapt, but they did the absolute best job they could. For as bleak as it was, I was never bored, and it was never bland at all, which is quite an accomplishment.
I just finished my third day at the Telluride Film Festival. There is one more day left (Monday), then I'm catching a plane up to Toronto, but there are still a few more good films to see. Today I caught three great films, each one vastly more different than the other. First up was a documentary called Waking Sleeping Beauty, which I already reviewed. Then I caught The Road, which was screened as part of a tribute to Viggo Mortensen. Lastly, I saw a little horror film called Paranormal Activity that Paramount has been quietly unleashing. However, I had an interesting thought as I watched the Mortensen presentation earlier today.
I'm not normally a documentary guy, they're just not my thing, and I don't fall in love with that many of them. However, earlier today I was encouraged to check out a documentary directed by Don Hahn called Waking Sleeping Beauty about Walt Disney Animation and the people from that side of the studio. And I fell in love it. I don't mean I just liked it a lot, I completely and thoroughly fell in love with it. I have never felt this emotional towards a documentary or another film this entire year. It's a fascinating story that's both amusing and inspiring to watch. I think it's perhaps the best movie about Disney Animation ever made.
After stepping out of Up in the Air and writing my review, I realized that I hadn't otherwise written about the Telluride Film Festival yet, which is shame because it's such a wonderful festival. It lasts for only 4 long days, but it takes place in a small, quaint mountain town, and I just love being here, especially as an oddly relaxing (or quieter) way to kick off my epic festival tour. As of writing this, I've seen only 5 films so far (more details on those below), but I just wanted to make sure I start a running tally / list of all the films I've seen on this trip. Although at least two of them are films that I'd already seen in Cannes previously.
I've been waiting and waiting to see Jason Reitman's Up in the Air ever since it was first announced way back in May of 2008. And I just walked out of the first ever screening of the film tonight at the Telluride Film Festival. And I loved it. It's everything I wanted it to be, everything I was expecting, even after reading Walter Kirn's book that it's based on. Not only is it Reitman's most personal film to date, but it's his most polished as well. I have so many things to mention about it that I just wanted to get down my thoughts before they fade away. It really hit me on a very personal level as well, which is why I enjoyed it so much.
Today I embark on another 28-day adventure around North America to three great film festivals. I fly today to Telluride, Colorado for the Telluride Film Festival, then head to Toronto on September 8th for the Toronto Film Festival, then head to Austin, Texas on September 20th for the Fantastic Fest held at the world famous Alamo Drafthouse, before finally returning home on October 1st. It's a whirlwind adventure that I've been excited to go again since finishing the same "epic tour" last year. Joining me on the road for all 28 days is Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm. You can expect plenty of great fest coverage all this month.