When last we left Andrey Zvyagientsev's "Leviathan," it was causing a stir at the end of Cannes and looking like a sure-fire Palme d'Or winner. In the end, the Russian drama — which is a spin on the Biblical Book of Job — settled for a screenplay award at the fest, but now it's set to spur discussion again as it's set for a North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival Friday night.
VENICE - Known as the "First Lady of Iranian Cinema", Iran's premier female director Rakhshan Bani-E'temad is a formidable chronicler of the day-to-day existence of Iranian people. Not a million miles removed from the outlook of the Dardennes brothers in Belgium or Ken Loach in the UK, she is concerned largely with so-called ordinary lives. "Tales (Ghesseha)" is a multistranded take on a dozen or so people's stories intersecting across a single city. Some characters are encountered once, never to return, others recur throughout, but it's not a film with a protagonist or supporting characters in the traditional sense; it's much more a slice of life/lives.
VENICE - The title treatment for Ramin Bahrani's Venice Competition entry consists of blood red letters on black. Filling the entire screen with blocky all-caps letters and numbers dozens of feet high, we read: 99 HOMES. It looks more like the title treatment for a horror than a drama digging into a moral morass of foreclosure, subsistence level employment, and better paid but more spiritually costly work. As it turns out, it is also a horror movie of sorts. The first shot of the film itself is even a post-mortem scene, as Michael Shannon's predatory realtor Rick Carver -- and how's that for a horror movie name? -- gazes almost impassively at blood dribbling down tacky pink bathroom tiles.
As fully expected, Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" was on the Telluride slate when it was announced this morning. This marks Miller's second trip to the Colorado fest after 2005's "Capote," and that last time was kind of significant.
Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" was apparently screened for trades (and Indiewire) ahead of the film's Telluride bow this weekend, but it's been met with a bit of a wet blanket, with only Variety's Scott Foundas (ever positive) finding considerable love for the film. That must smart a bit, as the film arrives in the soggy San Juans this weekend as something perhaps knocked down a few rungs down on the list of priorities for festival goers trying to make sense of a heavily packed schedule.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced recipients of the 2014 Honorary Oscars, to be presented at the annual Governors Awards ceremony in November. Writer and actor Jean-Claude Carrière ("The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"), Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki ("My Neighbor Totoro," "Spirited Away") and actress Maureen O'Hara ("The Parent Trap," "The Quiet Man") will receive Honorary Awards, while, singer/songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte will receive the organization's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
TELLURIDE — With all the reindeer games going on in the fall festival world, a lot of the drama and mystery surrounding Telluride's perennially on-the-lowdown program began to seep out like a steadily deflating balloon this year. Toronto, Venice and New York notations of "World Premiere," "Canada Premiere," "New York Premiere" or "International Premiere" and the like made it all rather obvious which films were heading to the San Juans for the 41st edition of the tiny mining village's cinephile gathering, and which were not. But the fact is, if you're in it just for the surprises — or certainly, for the awards-baiting heavies — you're never going to be fully satisfied by the Telluride experience. That having been said, this year's program might just be the most exciting one in my six years of attending.
Ivan Reitman's "Ghostbusters" celebrated its 30th anniversary back in June, but with a new 4K theatrical re-release on the way from Sony, today has been dubbed "National 'Ghostbusters' Day." Well, of course we should do something special.
VENICE - When high schoolers Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne (Stacey Dash) successfully fix up a couple of single teachers in Amy Heckerling's seminal teen hit "Clueless", the pampered girls coo "Old people can be so sweet!" as the targets of their matchmaking begin to enjoy a tentative romance. The joke is on the naive teens; we're laughing at their blithely patronizing attitude towards their elders. Would that all films were as smart as Heckerling's Jane Austen revamp.