Telluride Film Fest 2016: No Pass, Don’t Pass

Telluride Film Fest 2016: No Pass, Don’t Pass

“No matter what kind of year I have had, if I come to Telluride, it’s been a good year,” Werner Herzog.


Lights! Camera! Action!

The 43rd annual Telluride Film Festival officially begins with the start of Labor Day weekend, Friday, 9/2 – Monday, 9/5, when the legacy of Georges Méliès once again parades all over town – and the cat is let out of the bag.

For those unfamiliar with the storied history of the medium (and for all you trivia buffs), at the dawn of the 20th century, Méliès became the first filmmaker to realize the potential of Thomas Edison’s new technology, the motion picture camera, for telling stories, not just for record-keeping, which was how the Lumière brothers saw the application.

Without a pass? Don’t pass: this year as every year there’s something for everyone as always at the Telluride Film Fest.

Abel Gance Open Air Cinema:

(With apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein), some “Enchanted” evenings with the Telluride Film Fest start Wednesday, August 31, 8:30 p.m., with a screening of the rom-com “Enchanted,” 2007.

Amy Adams is “Enchanted,” courtesy Walk Disney Studios.

Amy Adams is “Enchanted,” courtesy Walk Disney Studios.

The story line focuses on Giselle, an archetypal Disney Princess. Banished by an evil queen, Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) – who has a background in musical theatre and does all her own singing – from the fairy-tale world of Andalasia lands in modern Manhattan, where music, magic and “happily ever after” are in short supply. Giselle is adrift in this strange new place until a divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) comes to her aid. She begins to fall for her flawed benefactor, but complications set in when a prince from her world comes to rescue his beloved.

“Enchanted” was filmed on location in New York City during the summer of  2006.

Former Telluride Film Festival regular and beloved critic Roger Ebert (he died in 2013) found “Enchanted,”well, enchanting and magical.

Ebert’s review here:

You should have seen “Junebug” by now, which means you will not be surprised by how fresh and winning Amy Adams is in “Enchanted,” where her role absolutely depends on effortless lovability.

She’s so lovable, in fact, she starts life as an animated princess in a Disney-style world. The birds, flowers, chipmunks and cockroaches even love her and do her bidding. Listen, if you could employ the roaches of the world, you’d have a hell of a work force.

The princess is named Giselle, she has a beautiful singing voice, and although she resists singing “Someday My Prince Will Come,” I think she’s always humming it to herself.

One day her prince does come. This is Prince Edward (James Marsden), and it is love at first sight, and there are wedding bells in the air before the wicked Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) puts the kibosh on romance by banishing Giselle to a place as far as possible from this magical kingdom. That would be Times Square. It is so very far, indeed, that the movie switches from animation to real life, and stays there. But the animated prologue does a good job of setting the stage, so that we understand the ground rules of what will essentially be a live-action story playing by Disney animation rules. What results is a heart-winning musical comedy that skips lightly and sprightly from the lily pads of hope to the manhole covers of actuality, if you see what I mean. I’m not sure I do…

Anyway, Prince Edward follows her to New York,…

Continue reading here.

“Not since Julie Andrews rode an umbrella to glory in “Mary Poppins” has Disney given us such a real-life doll,” raved Rolling Stone.

Watch “Enchanted” trailer here:

From love play, we turn to gun play. The film on Thursday, September 1, 8:30 p.m., is “The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford,” (2007), Andrew Dominick’s neglected 2007 Western masterpiece.

Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse james."

Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse james.”

International superstar Brad Pitt (Troy) stars as legendary outlaw Jesse James in this Western drama based on Ron Hansen’s best-selling novel “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.”

A charismatic, superstitious and moody man, Jesse James (Pitt) presides over a ragtag gang of outlaws who fear his quick temper and even quicker ability to shoot to kill. Young Robert Ford (Casey Affleck, “Ocean’s Twelve”) worships Jesse and joins the James Gang, only to become resentful of his hero. Intent on taking Jesse’s place, the young upstart hatches a plan to kill the fastest gun in the West. But after gunning Jesse James down, Robert Ford lives out the rest of his days tormented by the cold-blooded killing of his former mentor .

Here’s Ebert again on this classic, which was shot in Colorado:

Few things have earned me more grief from readers than my recent suggestion that in the sport of sex, Capt. Renault of “Casablanca” plays for both teams. I think I will get less disagreement when I focus on the homosexual undertones of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Jesse (Brad Pitt) is certainly not gay, but the Coward (Casey Affleck) is so powerfully mesmerized by him that hero worship shades into lust. Since sex between them is out of the question, their relationship turns into a curiously erotic dance of death; it is clear to both of them (and to anyone reading the title) what must happen at the end, and they move together toward that event with almost trancelike inevitability.

The movie has the space and freedom of classic Western epics. Like “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and “Days of Heaven,” it was photographed in the wide open spaces of western Canada, where the land is so empty, it creates a vacuum demanding men to become legends. Jesse James is such a man, a ruthless killer and attentive father and husband, glorified in the dime novels that Robert Ford memorizes. If Ford is a coward, what does that make James, who led his efficient gang in stagecoach and bank robberies that involved the deaths of unarmed men and women? Yes, but he did it with style, you see, and Ford is only a callow squirt.

The story begins in 1881, after Jesse’s legend is already part of the mythology and the James Gang has only one robbery left to go…

Continue reading here.

“A great and gorgeous Western … wondrously contemplative and poetic … offers a fresh and bewitching take on a timeworn genre,” USA Today.

Check out the trailer here:

Friday, September 2, we return to another enchanting film about another enchanting young woman on yet another epic journey in a far away world.

The Eagle Huntress

Aisholpan, “The Eagle Huntress”

The documentary “The Eagle Huntress” tells the tale of 13-year-old Aisholpan, a nomadic Mongolian girl, who bucked 2,000 years of tradition to become the first female to hunt with formidable golden eagles. The doc was shot in a locale director Otto Bell describes as “the most remote part of the least-populated country in the world. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.”

The “Eagle Huntress is scheduled for release in October 2016.

Trailer here:

For Saturday, Sunday, and Monday films, check the official program.

And don’t miss “The Pagnol Trilogy,” three rich, funny, deep tales of love, life and food in a French Village, a real tear jerker. Free, with food served at intermissions.

“fanny,, Leslie Caron, 1961.

“fanny,, Leslie Caron, 1961.

That’s Friday, Werner Herzog Theatre, Town Park, as follows:

11 a.m., “Marius,” (d. Alexander Korda, 1931, 120m)

1:30 p.m., “Fanny,” (d. Marc Allégret, 1932, 127m)

4:15 p.m., “César,” (d. Marcel Pagnol, 1936, 141m)

Writing for Parallax View, John Hartl describes the trilogy this way:

Whenever I’m asked to name my favorite tearjerker, I answer Marcel Pagnol’s Marseilles Trilogy – and its mostly faithful offspring. In all of its screen incarnations, it’s an epic tale of thwarted romance that unfolds over a period of several years.

If the original six-hour French-language trilogy—Marius (1931), Fanny (1932) and Cesar (1936)—sounds unfamiliar, you might remember it in the form of Joshua Logan’s condensed American remake, Fanny, which played for many weeks in the summer of 1961 and earned Oscar nominations for best picture, actor (Charles Boyer), cinematography and music. In this most famous version, Leslie Caron and Horst Buchholz play the frustrated lovers whose lives are irrevocably altered by one crucial decision that drives the narrative and accounts for most of the heartbreak.

The 1932 “Fanny”

The films tell essentially the same story of a would-be sailor, Marius, and his childhood sweetheart, Fanny, who have grown up on the Marseilles waterfront and are clearly meant for each other. But he’s driven by the desire to find adventure at sea, and after one night of passion she helps him escape on a ship that’s not likely to return soon. When she becomes pregnant, she is married off to a wealthy merchant, Panisse, who has never been able to have children and is happy to have a “seven-month baby.” After the child is born, Marius returns and nearly restarts their affair. But Marius’ father, Cesar, stops them, and the story’s real heartache kicks in.

Although the Pagnol films have been available for some time on DVD, the 1961 Fanny only recently made its disc debut. The extras include the first CD release of the original soundtrack album, based on the melodies of Harold Rome, who captures the unrequitable longing of the central characters…

Continue reading here.

Here’s the trailer – in French.

Other Telluride Film Festival freebies include:

• Noon Seminars in Elks Park

• “Conversations” in the County Courthouse (although passholders are admitted first)

•  Filmmakers of Tomorrow programs

•  Films at the Backlot, located in the Wilkinson Public Library. (Admission on a first-come, first-served basis)

Late Show Passes:

The Late Show Pass, (just $75) provides entry into the final shows Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights at Chuck Jones Cinema, Mountain Village, and the Palm. They can be purchased at the Festival box office across from Brigadoon or at either of the venues. Late show ticket holders are admitted with regular passholders.

All indoor theaters put individual tickets on sale 10 minutes before showtime if there are seats available after passholders have been seated. Best to try the larger venues: The Palm, the Chuck Jones, the Galaxy and the new Werner Herzog in Town Park. The price is $30 per ticket, cash only.

In conclusion:

Visit Brigadoon during the Telluride Film Festival for a detailed handout of shows and tips or go to the Telluride Film Festival’s official website.

At Brigadoon, there will be book signings and the festival poster artist will be signing as well. More details in the program when announced.

While most festivals offer sightings of filmmakers as well as films, the population of Telluride — festival and town — is small enough that the ratio of auteurs to filmgoers may be higher than anywhere in the world,” The New York Press


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