The Telluride Film Festival, opening tomorrow and running through Labor Day, has unveiled the lineup for this year's 36th edition. Here's what we know so far about each of the films screening over one of cinema's finest weekends...
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog, US, 2009). Todd McCarthy in Variety: "From the moment it was announced, there was something a tad loony about the idea of remaking - or revisiting or reinventing or whatever they want to call it - Abel Ferrara's 1992 Bad Lieutenant, with Werner Herzog, no less, directing. Well, lo and behold, there's also something rather loony about the finished film itself. But there's also a sort of deadpan zaniness, stemming from a steadfast conviction in its own absurdity, that gives Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans a strange distinction all its own."
Farewell (Christian Carion, France, 2009). Lisa Nesselson in Screen: "In the early 1980s, a high-ranking KGB officer in Moscow decided to let the West know just how thorough Soviet infiltration was, a bold gambit which hastened the collapse of the USSR. Christian Carion's dramatisation of the events surrounding the man French intelligence codenamed 'Farewell' is a harrowing, richly human and well-acted espionage tale, anchored by a complex performance from Emir Kusturica."
Henri-George Clouzot's Inferno (Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, France, 2009). Check Matt Bochenski at Little White Lies and scroll down a bit. Online viewing tip. A couple of weeks ago, Ekkehard Knörer found some terrific material Clouzot'd been experimenting with and posted it at Cargo.
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz, US, 2009). Screening in Venice today and Colleen Barry has notes from the press conference for the AP. Solondz: "Once I started to write, I wanted to feel free to play with the characters anyway I wanted.... Some characters age 20 years, some five. People say, why not just make a totally different movie? Maybe that is what I did in the end."
London River (Rachid Bouchareb, UK/France/Algeria, 2009). I wasn't too impressed with this one, but Jonathan Romney writes in Screen: "Brenda Blethyn and Malian actor Sotigui Kouyaté are the affecting duo at the centre of London River, Rachid Bouchareb's spare, astute drama about how conflict can sometimes draw people together." Kouyaté won a Silver Bear for his performance in Berlin.
Red Riding, a three-part series based on a quartet of books by David Peace: 1974 (Julian Jarrold, UK, 2009); 1980 (James Marsh, UK, 2009); 1983 (Anand Tucker, UK, 2009). Breaking Telluride precedent, the Festival will officially begin at 2:00 pm on Friday afternoon with a marathon screening of all three parts.
Room and a Half (Andrey Khrzhanovsky, Russia, 2009). Dan Fainaru for Screen: "A multiple-award-winner in Russia for his animation work, Andrey Khrzhanovsky's semi-fictionalised biography of Nobel prize-winning poet Josef Brodsky is a lively, dense and richly imaginative portrait not only of a great writer but also of the post-Second World War cultural world of the Soviet Union."
sleep furiously (Gideon Koppel, UK, 2007). John Banville in Sight & Sound: "Now more than ever we need films such as this: grave, measured, subtly comic and beautifully wrought, free of polemic and yet offering a new way of seeing that is as old as Arcady. sleep furiously is, simply, a masterpiece."
Terra Madre (Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 2009). Daniel Kasman caught it in Berlin: "Departing from documentary form at the film's center - that strange dusty house of mystery, with its paradoxical love and hatred for life - we thankfully transition from documentary to essay, and in letting go of reality Terra Madre beams with nothing but admiration for living well on this planet."
The Last Station (Michael Hoffman, UK, 2009). From the allmovieguide: "The final year of Russian Socialist writer Leo Tolstoy comes to the screen with Christopher Plummer in the lead role and Helen Mirren portraying his wife, Sofia. Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff co-star in the Warner Bros production, directed by Michael Hoffman from the novel by Jay Parini."
The Miscreants (George Gittoes, Australia/Pakistan, 2009). From the director's site: "A whirlwind tour of the realities, sub realities, hyper realities, and non realities, of one of the most off limits regions of the world - the North West Province and Tribal Belt of Pakistan." Wikipedia has a bit more.
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, Germany/Australia/France, 2009). Reviews from Cannes, where, of course, it won the Palme d'Or; and just recently, I looked into Austrian reaction to the German's picking the film as their horse to run in the Foreign Language Oscar race.
Window (Buddhadeb Dasgupta, India, 2009). From the Toronto Film Festival site: "Buddhadeb Dasgupta's tales of Bengali life are both searing socialcomment and pure poetry. It's a delicate balance, and in The Window he once again transforms the complexities of today's India into a song of many harmonies."
The 2009 Silver Medallion awards, given to recognize an artist's significant contribution to the world of cinema, go to Anouk Aimée, Viggo Mortensen and Margarethe von Trotta. And Lobster Films' Serge Bromberg will not only be presenting Henri-Georges Clouzout's Inferno, he'll also receive this year's Special Medallion award, "which honors a 'hero' of cinema, at the program Retour de Flamme, Bromberg's famed live cinema show."
Alexander Payne will present "six forgotten film treasures from the past":
El Verdugo (Luís García Berlanga, Spain, 1963).
Daisan no Kagemusha: The Third Shadow Warrior (Inoue Umetsugu, Japan, 1963).
Le Ragazze di Piazza di Spagna (Luciano Emmer, Italy, 1952).
Day of the Outlaw (André De Tothe, US, 1959).
The Breaking Point (Michael Curtiz, US, 1950).
Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, US, 1937).
Les Nouveaux Messieur (Jacques Feyder, France, 1929). With live music by Stephen Horne, performing his original score.
L'Argent (Marcel L'Herier, France, 1928). Featuring the world premiere of a new score written and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
Lola (Jacques Demy, France, 1961).
Miracle of Malachias (Bernhard Wicki, Germany, 1961).
Backlot, Telluride's intimate screening room with behind-the-scenes films and biographies of musicians and filmmakers, will screen the following documentaries:
14-18: The Noise and the Fury (Jean-Francois Delassus, France/Belgium, 2009).
1959: The Year That Changed Jazz Forever (Paul Bernays, UK, 2009).
Against the Grain: The Film Legend of Bernhard Wicki (Elisabeth Endriss-Wicki, Germany, 2007).
Charlie Haden: Rambling Boy (Reto Caduff, UK, 2009).
Cool (Anthony Wall, UK, 2009).
Disco and Atomic War (Jaak Kilmi, Estonia/Finland, 2009).
It Came From Kuchar (Jennifer Kroot, US, 2009).
Veit Harlan: In the Shade of Jud Süß (Felix Moeller, Germany, 2009).
Waking Sleeping Beauty (Don Hahn, US, 2009).
We Who Lived La Dolce Vita (Gianfranco Mingozzi, Italy, 2009).
Explore the lineup here, too.