The Telluride Film Festival kicked off Friday with a number of films that had already screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Two of them were Sony Classics' titles: "Tamara Drewe" and Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job."
One of the biggest revelations after watching the incredibly entertaining "Drewe" is just how much Stephen Frears has become one of my favorite directors. After the "Dangerous Liasons" and "The Grifters" helmer had a few unfortunate missteps in the mid-90s ("Hero," "Mary Reilly"), Frears has been on something of a renaissance recently with "The Queen," the incredibly underrated "Cheri" (don't get me started) and, now, "Tamara Drewe."
Based on Posy Simmonds graphic novel, "Drewe" is set in a small village in the English countryside which is home to a writer's retreat run by the wife of a famed crime novelist. When the title character (Gemma Arterton) returns to sell her mother's home after becoming a successful entertainment writer in London, she stirs up lots of old feelings amongst her childhood flame (Luke Evans), the arrogant best seller (Roger Allam) and a rock musician she semi-falls for (Dominic Cooper).
What's impressive about Frears' direction is that the tone of the picture is not as cookie cutter Working Title/"Bridget Jones Diary"-esque as you'd think after first glancing at the marketing materials. It's much more inventive and deeper than that (and an assist has to go to Simmonds original witty source material). Plus, there is something of a shocker ending that because of Frears' overall tone isn't as out of place at it first appears. Now, whether the picture is an awards season player remains to be seen (it's been buzzed about), but most noteworthy is that Arterton has finally been given a role that allows her to be more than just a pretty accessory in a studio action flick (ie, "Clash of the Titans" and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"). Oh, and she's probably got a great shot for a Globe nod for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (true).
As for the rest of the cast, Evans shows leading man chops, Allam is wonderfully slimy and Tamsin Greig is pretty fantastic as the wife who has put up with decades of abuse from Allam's character. At the least, it's a great date movie for couples looking for something both sexy and sophisticated.
One film that will certainly be playing the Oscar game is Ferguson's "Inside Job." An impressive breakdown of just what went wrong with the financial services industry over the past 30 years, "Job" will make voters from both parties unhappy with their elected officials. Placing blame pretty much on everyone in office since Ronald Reagan started deregulation in the 80s, "Job" goes on to document how many times the Federal Reserve was warned about an out-of-control banking and investing industry, but brushed continuing concerns aside. The film gets a tad too analytical for moviegoers at times, but its clear anyone on the side of the financial services industry will have a hard time attacking its long list of historical references and experts.
Moreover, "Job" also happens to surprise as an enthralling piece of documentary filmmaking. It seems inappropriate to refer to any film that depicts the collapse of the global economy as entertaining, but "Job" comes pretty close. And it comes heartily recommended by this commentator.
"Tamara Drewe" will open in limited release on Oct. 8.
"Inside Job" will open in New York on Oct. 8 and in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.
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