Following a tradition that we started here last year, Kimball's Peak Three general manager Matthew Stevens just returned from the Telluride Film Festival and has some film picks for which we should be on the lookout in the coming months (some to catch, and some to skip).
Here, in his unedited words, is the scoop:
First, there was this year’s buzz film, THE DESCENDANTS written and directed by Oscar-winning Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS). The film is a story about a father, Matt King (George Clooney), the heir of prominent Hawaiian landowning family whose life is thrown for a loop when his wife is critically injured in a boating accident. King is normally accustomed to being “the backup parent,” but now is thrown onto center stage in the lives of his two daughters. Trying to connect with his daughters during this family crisis, King discovers that is wife was having affair with a young real estate broker and travels the Hawaiian Islands to confront him. THE DESCENDANTS is a perfect film, its true beauty is told in the silent nuisances of a real family in crisis.
Another film to add to your watch list is BUTTER, a film that could only be set in Iowa. This edgy satire film about a butter sculpting contest was directed by Jim Field Smith (SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE) and stars Jennifer Garner (who also produces) as an ambitious and resentful local woman — think Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman - competes in their town’s local butter sculpting contest. Her only real competition is a 10-year old girl, Destiny, has been in the foster system all her life and has gone from foster family to foster family; she describes white people as “not just strange, but very strange.” Destiny’s only talent, according to her, is butter sculpting. This hysterical and politically charged film is perfectly timed for the 2012 presidential campaign.
PINA (in 3D) is another film you may want to add to your watch list or you may not. This documentary by Wim Wenders is a film for Pina Bausch, not about her. Pina Bausch was a modern dance choreographer. Before her death in 2009, Bausch and Wenders already began collaboration for the on-location dance scenes. PINA is the Tanztheater Wuppertal tribute to their leader by performing the imaginative and often breathtaking choreographed dances by Bausch. The cinematography is stunning, mixed with 3D, makes you believe that you’re in the Tanztheater Wuppertal. However, this documentary is long and tiresome. If modern dance isn’t your forte, you may want to skip it.
Werner Herzog (CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS) is a Telluride Film Festival staple by attending for 35 years. His documentaries on exceptional people — heroic, absurd, and otherwise — have made him a master of human expression through filmmaking. INTO THE ABYSS: A TALE OF DEATH, A TALE OF LIFE raises ethical questions on capital punishment. Herzog shares the story of a small-town triple-murder in Texas. Herzog interviews the murderers days before their execution, the family of the victims, and the executioners on the “protocol of death.” Leaving opinion, Herzog leaves the audience to their own conclusions on death and capital punishment. This often sad film shows the steps, like a connect-the-dots puzzle, leading to the creation of a murderer in rural Texas.
SHAME is just as the title states. This film directed by artist-turned director, Steve McQueen (HUNGER), is a tale of a 30-year old sex addict, portrayed by Michael Fassbender (JANE EYRE), who prowls the streets and subways of Manhattan looking for quick hook-ups. By day, he manages to hide seamlessly in a dull corporate job. His life is shaken by the arrival of his sister, Sissy (AN EDUCATION’s Carey Mulligan), a similar broken soul. This film is over-stylized and often leaves the artistic expression of the information age to pass into pure pornography. Do not expect this film in local theaters anytime soon, unless the MPAA manages to award this film an NC-17 rating.