A Special Tribute to powerhouse actor, Peter Dinklage, generated massive buzz before his world-premiere in the new film musical, Cyrano. Dinklage is a four-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones and has turned in several strong performances on the big screen in Station Agent, Elf, and I Care A Lot.
In Cyrano Dinklage solidly carries the weight of the lead as Cyrano, a man who feels undeserving of romantic love. The film is breathtakingly beautiful with lavish costuming, epic battles, and spirited musical numbers. Numerous pundits are mouthing Dinklage’s performance as Oscar-caliber – the question being is it enough for this record-setting Emmy recipient to become an Oscar recipient? Cyrano is coming out for the holidays. A “don’t miss” viweing.
Benedict Cumberbatch was in the house at the Werner Herzog Theatre for a screening of the Jane Campion written, The Power of the Dog, based on a 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage. Campion seems to be a shoo-in to receive her second Oscar for screenwriting for The Power of the Dog. Screenplay might not be the only Oscar talk as Cumberbatch, always a strong screen performer, delves deeply into the soul of his character, Phil Burbank, delivering a dark presence un-before seen from Benedict.
Last but certainly not to be thought of as the least, is the new Wes Anderson love letter to journalists at a American newspaper outpost in a fictional French city, The French Dispatch. The film brings to life a series of short-stroies that had appeared in the magazine, “The French Dispatch Magazine.” The ensemble cast includes Timothy Chalamet, Bill Murray, Leas Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Lyna Khoudri, Steve Park, Matthieu Almaric, Henry Winkler, and Frances MacDormand. Sharply written and oh….what a cast!
The Telluride Film Festival has become known as a launch for numerous award season campaign debuts. And this year was no exception. Stay tuned for Part III!
Spending my birthday at the 48th Telluride Film Festival proved a remarkably pleasant experience. Receiving a warm hug from a lovely young woman who had dressed herself on Halloween as Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, I engaged Marcel the Shell with Shoes On lead, director, writer/creator Jenny Slate in a polite and deeply poignant conversation on the Telluride Film Festival and her latest work with long-time collaborator Dean Fleisshman.
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021), is a feature-length mockumentary on the scruffy mollusk and life as it is known. Sharp writing and a creative narrative, and spot-on stop-motion animation made Marcel the Shell With Shoes On ) an audience favorite. According to news reports negotiations for the film’s distribution and exhibition are ongoing. Slate and Fleisshman are adamant Marcel gets its due. I couldn’t agree more. Highly recommended!
Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is an impeccable work based on Branagh’s own upbringing in Belfast in the late 1960’s. The soundtrack features a plethora of Van Morrison’s greatest hits adding joy and optimism to the challenging circumstances a young couple is facing with their young children.. Beautiful actors and a compelling storyline deliver what appears to be an early favorite for the year’s best film.
Sean Baker ( Tangerine, and The Florida Project) and A24’s Red Rocket, featuring Simon Rex, a standout media personality, Brenda Deiss, and Bree Elrod, tells the tail of a Mikey Saber, a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown and attempts to make a fresh start. Rex turns in a tour de force performance as Mikey Saber. Baker’s strongest work to date. Not for the faint of heart. Earthy.
Telluride has become known as a launch for numerous award season campaign debuts. And this year was no exception. Stay tuned for Part II.
(***Above media by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee featuring the 2021 Telluride Film Festival Opening Night Art Sculpture)
Having met my featured Mountainfest member, Nora Bernard, at the 46th Telluride Film Festival, my curiosity piqued upon reading her social media post on this year’s Mountainfilm, the Bivvy Pass, and her zeal in being part of this year’s Programming Team. Without missing a beat, I quickly visited Mountainfilm.org and counted my blessings. I viewed the Mountainfilm Intro by Stephen Burns. Stunning photography accented the clip leading me to check out this year’s Guest Director Louis Psihoyos sharing what makes Mountainfilm his “go-to” festival year after year.
My good fortune didn’t end there as Ms. Bernard accepted my proposal for a feature via a virtual Q & A. Please see below.
What do you do for the 2020 MountainFilm Festival?
I was an Associate Programmer for this year’s festival which consisted of reviewing film submissions and giving my recommendations to the Programming Team at Large.
Why did you choose to work for MountainFilm?
I have been working for the Telluride Film Festival for a number of years and quite a few of my colleagues have also worked for Mountainfilm. The Program Manager, Lucy Lerner, was a Senior Manager for TFF and I reached out to her with interest in being a screener for the 2019 festival.
How has your experience been?
It’s been such a thrill. I have to say, I’ve been impressed by a lot of the submissions I have watched. The documentaries screened at Mountainfilm run the gamut from outdoor adventure, climate change, anthropology, and social justice. 2019 was my first time attending and I got caught up in the overall commitment to the community. It’s been so motivating to watch the year-round staff translate that to an online platform in these current circumstances.
Why did you choose Programming?
Well with all the other festivals I’ve worked, I’ve always worked on the logistical side of things. Production, venue operations, ticketing, volunteers…you name it and I’ve probably done it. However, my eyes have been moving toward the creative side and I’m grateful to Mountainfilm for giving me the opportunity.
What other festivals/projects have you worked on?
I’ve also worked for the Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Telluride Film Festivals and am a part of the FantasticFest features submission team. Each job, I’ve worked has taught me so much and has rolled over into the next. There are so many talented people that put together these events. For now, I’m quarantining in New York City and hoping for the chance to help make that magic again soon.
Mountainfilm, a documentary film festival in Telluride, Colo., showcases “nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political, and social justice issues that matter.” The 2020 edition has gone virtual in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mountainfilm offering its 2020 festival lineup through a secure online platform from May 15–25. The new Bivvy pass provides full access to over 100 films, a symposium, and additional presentations for $75. An option to purchase individual films, shorts programs, or presentations for $10 each is also available. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did!
Until next time, I look forward to seeing you at the movies….
Each Labor Day weekend, the tiny mountain village of Telluride, Colorado triples in size. Swells of passionate film enthusiasts flood the town for four days of total cinematic immersion, embarking on a viewing odyssey, blissfully spending entire days in flickering dark rooms. With only an appreciation of celluloid to guide them, these devotees flock to the show, year after year. Why? Blind faith. Telluride doesn’t reveal the program until everyone lands in town. Yet the Telluride family trusts that a unique experience will unfold. (Telluridefilmfestival.org)
The Telluride Box Office for Cinephile, Acme and Festival level passes is open NOW. Please note that Patron Passes are sold out.
Please visit the Telluride Film Festival website to order your pass online.
If you have any questions on the best way to order your pass, or other general inquiries regarding the Festival, call 510.665.9494 or email at email@example.com. You’ll be glad you did!
Until next time. I’ll see you at the movies!
*Featured photo courtesy of Telluride Film Festival
Filmmaker Terrence Malick’s obsession with the Book of Job has another reincarnation with his latest film, A Hidden Life, from Fox Searchlight Pictures. Exquisitely shot utilizing primarily natural lighting by Cinematographer Jorg Widmer the film is aesthetically pleasing and bursting with spiritual energy. Solid acting performances with a splash of authenticity from a relatively exclusive German-Austrian casting by Anja Dihrberg that includes August Diehl in the lead role and Valerie Pachner portrayoing his loving wife as well as Bruno Ganz, Matthias Shoenaerts and Michael Nyqvist, in supporting roles, contribute immensely to film’s thematic intent. A Hidden Life is based on the a conscientious objecting, Austrian peasant farmer, Franz Jagerstatter, who refused to take an oath of allegiance to Adolph Hitler and sacrifices everything, including his own life, rather than fight with the Nazis in WWII.
Malick sets his masterpiece in authentic Austrian and German World War II locations including the very family farmhouse of the Jagerstatters which, over the years, has become a sort of pilgrimage site. While the film is set in and around World War II, several themes emerge that are not only relevant today – they seem to be evoking men and women who have a moral compass and intestinal fortitude to stand up to what is, quite simply, inherently wrong.
A Hidden Life premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Palm d’Or, the festival’s highest award. Terrence Malick, directed and wrote the film, was awarded the François Chalais Prize. The François Chalais Prize is awarded at two main events, the Cannes Film Festival (since 1955) and the Young Reporters Awards (since 1999). The award was created in honor of French journalist and film historian, Francois Chalais. At Cannes, the prize traditionally rewards a film dedicated to the affirmation of life and journalism, It also highlights the very presence of journalists at Cannes.
And, it would be easy to look at today’s news and see a young Greta Thunberg and imagine Malick’s vision. As evocative as Thunberg’s recent performance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit was, Franz Jagerstatter’s stance was deliberately contemplative, sourcing a love and understanding of an earthly wife.Interestingly, several members of the cast and crew drew upon a set of love letters between Jagerstatter and his wife to find the correct impetus in creating characters, designing costumes and the selection of shooting locations. With production design by Sebastian Krawinkel and costuming from Lisy Christl, the work could easily pass for a period piece.
The film has a run time of two hours and fifty-three minutes and is highly recommended. The scrumptious mise-en-scene never gets old and seems to re-create itself throughout the entire film.
In addition to making its world premiere at Cannes, A Hidden Life made its North American premiere at the recent 46th Telluride Film Festival and is slated to screen in the Special Presentations at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, October 3rd through October 12th, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee.
According to IMDb.com, expect A Hidden Life in theatres on December 13th. Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!
Actor Adam Driver picks up right where he left off with his role in BlacKkKlansman as Flip Zimmerman with his portrayal of Senatorial staffer Daniel Jones in The Report, a dramatic, investigative, political thriller based on actual events. The actual events depicted in the film were conducted under the auspices of the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s operation of a post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. Staffer Jones begins investigating the program and discovers subversion of law, destruction of evidentiary materials and encounters stonewalling from the nation’s highest intelligence agency in their attempts to conceal the interrogation program results.
The film has a feel of a thrilling and riveting docu-drama similar to All the President’s Men with the ominous dark undertone reminiscent of the Parallax View. Notwithstanding, the buffoon-like portrayal of the $80 million program directors, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jensen, is quite disturbing and immediately brings to mind the New York City (NYC) Mayor’s Office and the NYC Police Department coerced confessions of the Central Park Five. Burns became inspired to make the film after reading a 2007 Vanity Fair article by Katherine Eban detailing how Mitchell and Jensen became the architects of the country’s enhanced interrogation movement under the George H. Bush Administration.
But, it’s Adam Driver as Daniel Jones in a Frank Serpico-like performance that makes The Report work. Having John Hamm in the mix as Denis McDonough, President Obama’s National Security Council’s chief of Strategic Communication, adds a powerful element to the story’s setting. Annette Bening delivers an uncanny likeness and seems to channel United States Senator Diane Feinstein, (D-Calif.). Maura Tierney, Sarah Goldberg, Ted Levine and Matthew Rhys help round out a strong ensemble cast assembled by Avy Kaufman. Meanwhile, Production Designer Ethan Tobman, creates a realistic set conducive to the suspension of disbelief.
And, it’s Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth that is most inspiring as Jones spends years uncovering and defending what is right. What results is a nearly 7000-page classified (still to this day) report and the longest investigation in the history of the United States Senate. What’s more mind-boggling is that few Americans are aware of it. Instead learning from what happened in the program’s, the nation’s deep state apparatus hid, stonewalled and redacted any criminal wrongdoing of the program’s sadistic directors and violated the American people’s trust which leaves the viewer to wonder and question if our democracy is broken beyond repair.
The film is slated to be released into theatres on November 15th, 2019, and will be screening during the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, Oct0ber 3rd through October 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. The Report is an Amazon Studios Original film, written and directed by Scott Z. Burns with a run time of 118 minutes. The story seemed unfinished…….and it is. Simply because the American people were held in the dark due to national security until now. The Report shines a bright light – illuminating power and exposing the truth. A “must-see” film!
I had the good fortune of being at the 46th Telluride Film Festival and working in the Werner Herzog Theatre with a reserved seat. I didn’t know what to expect on Saturday afternoon, the 31st of August, 2019. But before I knew it….
Bam! Hard-hitting, independent filmmakers, Safdie Brothers (Good Time), Josh and Benny, screened a frenetic film, Uncut Gems, starring, in an Oscar-caliber performance, funny-man Adam Sandler. The film is executively produced by legendary filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, and was one of my favorite films at this year’s film festival.
In Uncut Gems, Sandler plays a hustling, manic, charismatic Jewish jeweler, Howard Ratner, in New York City’s Diamond District. National Basketball Association’s future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett of the famed Boston Celtics, lends a supporting role with a remarkably cool performance as Ratner gets himself roiled into an ever-deepening crisis.
Think of Mean Streets in the Big Apple’s hustle and bustle of insatiable appetites and self-destructive behavior. Cinematographer Darius Khondji captures memorable visuals of the New York City skyline. The film’s narrative, however, belongs to Sandler via the Safdie Brothers. I found myself rooting for Ratner and then shook my head as the film’s tragic hero/anti-hero continued to hustle against all odds.
The musical score by Daniel Lopatin rocks. That’s all I can say. It rocks! Benny Safdie and co-writer Ronald Bronstein edit the film so that it mimics the roller-coaster-ride narrative. The younger viewers were gaga during the film while the older generation seemed to be going bananas with the frenetic pacing. Nevertheless, the Safdie Brothers are perfecting their art. The production values are strong and the mise-en-scene provides an abundance of detail to the film’s character and to the film’s narrative.
In the Q & A following the film, Benny and Josh Safdie discussed their love of the fast-paced, New York City Diamond District vendors and confessed their infatuation with the Saul Bellow and Phillip Roth tragic-comic novels of the Jewish-American experience. And, interestingly, in the same vein as Joel and Ethan Cohen, the Safdies do all facets of filmmaking in collaboration. Admittedly, the Safdies knew from the start they had a winner with Sandler.
Sandler, known mainly for his comedic roles, also participated in the Q & A revealing he pushed both brothers hard on his character, Howard Ratner. The result is a highly sophisticated performance that will stand as one of, if not the very best, of Adam Sandler’s career. Hats off to casting team of Francine Maisler and Jennifer Venditti. Also, Mr. Sandler’s agent’s persistence in getting his client and the Safdie’s to meet, was noted and gratefully acknowledged by Sandler himself.
With a run time of two hours and fifteen minutes the film moves at an extraordinary pace. And when it ended, it left me wanting more. More Safdie Brothers and more Howard Ratner. The film is scheduled to be released by A24 into theatres on Christmas Day, December 25th. My recommendation is after you finish shopping, catch the matinee or after dinner see the evening show. Either way you won’t be disappointed. Very warmly recommended.
Viewed as part of the 46th Telluride Film Festival at the Werner Herzog Theatre.
Written and directed by Kitty Green (Casting JonBenet, The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul), The Assistant from Cinereach and Forensic Films, tells the story of Jane, a talented young production office assistant for a powerful corporate studio head. Actress Julia Garner (Ozark) portrays the young assistant freshly out of college and new to the industry. Other cast members included stars Matthew Macfadyen, Juliana Canfield, Kristine Froseth, Jon Orsini, Dagmara Domińczyk, Makenzie Leigh, Noah Robbins, and Purva Bedi.
The film follows a day in the life of an office assistant as Director Green allows the camera to capture the mundane tasks undertaken from preparing the coffee maker to ensuring the correct number of designer water bottles are readied for an upcoming visit. As the day progresses, an angry wife calls in and the assistant is passed the call. Despite suggestions from her co-workers to assuage the wife with a plausible meeting occupying the executives time, the assistant goes her own way offering no excuse fro the executives absence leading to a blistering rebuke from the executive over the telephone. This happens again later in the day and the executive takes an interest in the assistant telling her he will make her great.
A visit to the human resource office to explain the executive’s actions including flying a beautiful young waitress in from Idaho and putting the waitress up at a posh New York City hotel and handing her a production office assistant position for which the waitress has no clue in how to do. The human resource director stonewalls the assistant’s efforts and reminds her that she is new and needs to learn from the experience if she wants a career in the industry. A supermodel shows up to retrieve an ear ring lost inside a hotel room couch under the executive’s name. All this happens on the assistant’s father’s birthday who she eventually calls from a dingy coffee shop near the office. All in a day’s work.
Undoubtedly, Green was inspired by the media frenzy surrounding the Weinstein Company and the Harvey Weinstein meltdown as the studio executive’s past actions were brought into the public eye. Interestingly, Green tangentially allows the viewer to experience the uncomfortableness from an office assistant’s point of view who has aspirations of being a film producer. Shot in darker tones and at times in a chiaroscuro palette, Cinematographer Michael Latham captures the claustrophobic and stifling atmosphere of the work space. Fletcher Chancey handled the production design with John Arnos steering the art direction. In addition, Tamar-kali composed an original score for the film.
The Assistant, with a short run time of 85 minutes, is an underscored character study that speaks volumes of the degradation and abuse that occurred inside and outside the studio executive’s workplace. Green makes a statement providing the viewer with an introspective experience of the clammy and dank office atmospheric of a powerful studio executive driving a runaway locomotive. Warmly recommended.
Amazon Studios presented Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in their newest film to an at capacity audience for the world premiere of The Aeronauts, written and directed by Tom Harper, at the 46th Telluride Film Festival at the Werner Herzog Theatre, August 30th, 2019. Set in 1862 London, Redmayne plays an weather scientist, James Glashier (pronounced like glacier) trying to gain the respect of his peers by attempting to establish a new discipline, meteorology, to predict weather patterns while Jones plays a well-to-do, wealthy, entertainer-adventuress, widower, Amelia Wren, dealing with the recent, tragic loss of her husband. What starts out a rather pleasant balloon ride with much fanfare – bringing to mind The Greatest Showman – turns into an epic journey with visual effects reminiscent of the Oscar-winning (7) film Gravity.
As their ascent continues the tension between the Glashier and Wren mounts with intimate truths of each of their lives revealed. Redmayne and Jones are at their best here complementing and treating each other with the utmost respect. But not all in the air is cotton candy and marmalade skies as the elements and weather extract a magnificent toll on the balloonists as they venture ever higher as Glashier insists on continuing his weather readings and documentation while Wren sounds verbal warnings while lending a supporting hand that culminates in death-defying actions that allow the journey to continue with both lives in tact.
The Aeronauts is a fun film with adept visual effects and crafty make-up. Redmayne and Jones’s chemistry hasn’t missed a beat since they teamed up in the intimate relationship film, Theory of Everything, with Redmayne playing famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, with Jones portraying his wife, Jane. In addition, the special effects of rain, hail and snow pummeling the balloon are quite realistic and a kaleidoscope of butterflies is at once surreal and mesmerizing to behold well up into the earth’s atmosphere. Production design was handled by David Hindle and Christian Huband. Art direction was headed by Alice Sutton and George Steel was the film’s cinematographer.
This is a film that is best suited for the big screen – the bigger the better – as several of the scenes were shot with IMAX cameras. Moreover, it is a film the entire family can enjoy. Highly recommended!
The theatrical release of the film in the United States is scheduled on December 6, 2019. After a brief run in cinemas the film will debut on Amazon Prime December 20th, 2019.
Viewed as part of the 46th Telluride Film Festival at the Palm Theatre. Motherless Brooklyn, a crime, drama film noir throwback by Edward Norton, tells the story of a gum shoe detective with Tourettes Syndrome, a disorder characterized by involuntary tics, investigating the death of his boss, mentor and adoptive father figure, Frank Minnis, played by Bruce Willis. Edward Norton wrote, directed, starred and produced the film.
A passion project twenty years in the making, Motherless Brooklyn, attempts to re-imagine the famed film noir era. While most noir films were black and white, Norton chose to showcase his work in color. And with a cast including Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe, I can certainly understand and appreciate his decision with the film’s colorful characters. Norton’s performance as Lionel Essrog, the Touretted detective, reminded me of Norton’s Oscar nominated performance as Roy/Aaron in the 1996 crime drama, Primal Fear. It’s every bit as impressive though seemingly carries a lighter psychological heft.
In Motherless Brooklyn, Lionel finds his legs in the world of detective investigations after the death/murder of his boss/mentor and adoptive father figure, Frank Minna. Driven to find the truth, Lionel navigates various scenes and worlds of New York City in the 1950’s with a rock-hard determination as the film’s peripheral characters are uninterested in who killed Frank Minna. Rather, each character has his or her selfish interests to pursue. Lionel, on the other hand, is steadfast and goes to any lengths to pursue the truth going so far as to impersonate a prominent and well-known New York Times newspaper reporter.
Norton’s character, Lionel, carries the film from start to finish. Utilizing a traditional, signature noir element, the narrative voice-over, Lionel fills the audience in on background elements as the film dives, reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, into a world of gangland violence and shady real estate deals within a flourishing underground entertainment scene.
Several other aspects of the film push the work into the apex of top films. The film’s musical score by Daniel Pemberton takes a seat with the Miles Davis score in Elevator to the Gallows. Wynton Marsalis and Michael K. Williams deliver an astonishing, melodic trumpeting as Lionel and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, Laura, a community, housing fairness activist, share a heartfelt, tender moment. The costuming from Amy Roth, the cast of characters by Avy Kaufman and production design from Beth Mickle qualify the film as a solid period piece set in the 1950’s New York City. And while the mise-en-scene appears simple, it works magically with the calm, cool, polished voice-over narrative of a retrospective Lionel. Interestingly, Norton collaborated heavily with two-time Oscar nominee, Cinematographer Dick Pope.
Granted, with a A-list cast of Hollywood actors, Norton’s directorial work would seem to be a walk in the park. Yet, Norton not only directed the film, he also played the lead role adapting the Jonathan Lethem prize-winning novel of the same name to the screen, and was a major producing partner.
With a run time of 144 minutes, Motherless Brooklyn, comes in on time. Some editing and production choices allowed an emotional peek into the “broken brain” of Lionel and his coming to terms with his Tourettes that some viewers might find unsettling. Undoubtedly, the film, a Warner Brothers Picture production, is a vehicle for Edward Norton to showcase his talents. Yet, it also sheds light on a ruthless period in the urban planning of New York City providing an illumination into today’s socio-economic/political environment. Highly recommended.