Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tales from Telluride: Volume III

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 3:45 PM

It's that time again.

The Telluride Film Festival recently ended, and as he's done for us for the past two years, Kimball's Peak Three general manager Matthew Stevens has taken a few moments to jot down some impressions of films he was able to catch, on his own time and dime.

Telluride Film Festival

Here's how Stevens sums up the significance of Telluride annually:
Telluride Film Festival is the first major film festival to kick off the Oscar season. Directors, celebrities, and cinephiles flock to this gorgeous mountain town every year to be the first to view the year’s best picture and award winning performances.

And here's a batch of mini film reviews, all unedited, in his words, with movie trailer links where available:

Hyde Park on the Hudson
HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON is a glimpse into the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (portrayed by Bill Murray) and a visit in 1939 by the new and timid King and Queen of England to his upstate New York home. World War II is looming and England needs America’s help. The film isn’t political or a history lesson, but rather the secret relationship between FDR and his fifth cousin, Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney). One day, Daisy is requested by the president’s mother to spend time with FDR while he is visiting his estate in upstate New York. At first their relationship is strictly platonic, but quickly changes. Daisy says it best in a voiceover, that they are no longer “just fifth cousins, but very good friends.” Daisy is not the only woman in the president’s life; FDR juggles his relationships between his wife, Eleanor (Olivia Williams), and his secretary Missy (Elizabeth Marvel). Director Roger Michell (KNOTTING HILL, VENUS) shows the audience a picture of FDR in true form as a charismatic and sometimes vulnerable president. While not spoiling the entire movie, I recommend watching this film with a hot dog in hand.

Ginger and Rosa
Ginger (Elle Fanning) is a typical teenage girl in London 1962 — spending all her time with her best friend, Rosa (Alice Englert), shrinking her jeans in the bathtub, writing poetry, listening to smooth jazz, and changing the world by protesting against the impending nuclear crisis. Directed and written by Sally Potter (YES, THE MAN WHO CRIED, ORLANDO), GINGER AND ROSA is a coming-of-age story about the lives of two teenage girls who grow up together, their mothers met in the hospital during childbirth. Rosa’s father long abandoned her and her mother. Ginger’s father, Roland (Alessandro Nivola), hates being referred to as father and considers himself a staunch activist and pacifist writer, he leaves Ginger’s mother (Christina Hendricks) for other “opportunities.” Soon after, Ginger leaves her mother as well to live with Roland. Rosa views this opportunity to begin a relationship with Roland. Ginger is horrified when she discovers her best friend is sleeping with her father. Ginger personifies her internal turmoil onto the nuclear crisis, convinced of humanity’s certain end. Elle Fanning has stepped beyond her sister Dakota’s shadow and proved herself a wonderfully dynamic actress.

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os)
RUST AND BONE is the story of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a single father who moves from Belgium to northern France with his 5-year-old son he barely knows, and Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard, Oscar winner - LA VIE EN ROSE), a killer whale trainer who suffers a horrific accident. Ali works odd jobs to try and support himself; bouncer, security guard, but more importantly, illegal street fighting. When Stéphanie is attacked at a club where Ali is a bouncer, he comes to her rescue. After giving her a ride, they soon part ways, intending to never meet again. Stéphanie trains orca whales for a local ocean theme park. During one show, an orca destroys the stage and injures Stéphanie. The injury results in Stéphanie having her legs amputated and her stable life thrown into pure chaos. Stéphanie is devastated by ordeal and reaches out to Ali for support. RUST AND BONE is truly a masterpiece of two actors mastering their craft. I would be surprised if Marion Cotillard doesn’t win an Oscar for her performance.

In 1988, Chilean voters prepare to head to the polls to vote on the future of their brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. René Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) is a masterful ad exec, who employs charismatic and ground breaking tactics to sell cola (well, groundbreaking for 1988). Saavedra is put in charge to defeat Pinochet; the problem is the majority of Chileans believe the referendum is rigged and Pinochet is almost guaranteed victory. Saavedra must create an advertising campaign to stir the people to vote, he creates a campaign of happiness, instead of focusing on the cruelty and injustices of Pinochet. Saavedra creates an advertising campaign of a better and happier Chile, complete with rainbows and mimes (just like those in his cola commercials). This campaign doesn’t appeal to everyone and often alienates the Left and Right. Director Pablo Larraín transports the audience to Chile 1988 by filming on equipment from the 80’s in traditional 4:3 aspect, instead the modern 4k, high definition, anamorphic digital cameras. NO doesn’t require a background in Chilean politics for you to be immersed in the struggle against Pinochet.

At Any Price
Farming used to be simple. Put seeds in the ground and let them grow. However, that has quickly changed with the advent of genetically modified seeds, GPS guided tractors, and small farms bought and turned into huge conglomerate farms. Director Ramin Bahrani (GOODBYE SOLO, MAN PUSH CART) and co-writer Hallie Elizabeth Newton spent six months living with Iowa farmers to learn of the changing agricultural society in America. Their conclusion — farmers must expand or die. AT ANY PRICE is the story of farmer, Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid), who is the top seed salesman for seven counties. Whipple has the so-called perfect life; he has a wife (Kim Dickens), two boys, one that has fled the country on a road trip and the other, Dean (Zac Efron), who dreams of leaving too by becoming a professional NASCAR driver. Henry’s farm was handed to him by his father and Henry wants to pass the farm to his sons as well. However, Henry’s sons have other plans. Quaid and Efron are perfectly matched as father and son; you feel the mounting pressure both characters share.

How much can change in five years? EVERYDAY explores the relationship between a man (John Simm) imprisoned for drug smuggling and his wife (Shirley Henderson) over the course of five years. The film was shot over five years, utilizing a family of four real-life siblings. Director Michael Winterbottom (24 HOUR PARKTY PEOPLE, A MIGHTY HEART) has made twenty films in fifteen years, an astonishing accomplishment for any director. EVERDAY is seemingly boring at times, a lack of conflict and plot progression is more frustrating than everyday life. This film is just as the title states.

An average guy wakes up and heads to his job at a recycling plant, but during his commute to work, people begin to take his picture and request his autograph. This is the premise for Xavier Giannoli’s SUPERSTAR. Martin Kazinski (Kad Merad) is common. He does not want fame. Martin is happy with his current station in life, but after his ordeal in the subway, Martin is shocked and confused by his sudden fame. A television news producer, Fleur Arnaud (Cécile De France), wants to know why Martin is suddenly famous as well; she invites Martin on her program to explore the cause of her sudden fame. When the host refers to Martin as “common”, the audience turns against the host, creating pure chaos and leading internet clips of Martin Kazinski that further solidify his fame. SUPERSTAR explores the concept of fame. What makes someone worthy of adoration and praise — especially Kim Kardashian?

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