VENICE - If you liked "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!," the "Wallace & Gromit" films, anything by Monty Python or just funny, witty movies in general, make sure you catch Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's "The Boxtrolls." Based on the book "Here Be Monsters" by Alan Snow, I can't remember the last time I saw a family animation so visually rich, tightly scripted and charmingly performed which was also built on a sound and progressive message. It's unlikely to become a cultural juggernaut on the level of something like "Frozen," but I think it is as enjoyable.
TELLURIDE — In August of 2005, the Palm Theater in Telluride was inaugurated with the world premiere of Bennett Miller's Oscar-winning biopic "Capote." Nine years later Miller was back for the North American bow of his latest film, "Foxcatcher," which screened to a packed audience eager to get a look at this dark and mysterious story.
TELLURIDE — In recent years, Journalists have come under siege all across the world from governments trying to minimize their influence either through subtle or not-so subtle means. One of the more dramatic instances in recent memory was chronicled in Maziar Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me" which has been adapted into the new film "Rosewater." The film, with director Jon Stewart on hand, debuted Friday night at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival.
VENICE — The first scene in "The Humbling" ends with a once great veteran actor falling flat on his face. Well, quite.
“Do you believe that? Was that real for you?” Oh, Al Pacino. Playing a formerly great, now floundering actor like a needy lover, the scene begins with Simon Axler (Pacino) monologuing to himself in his dressing room. He's due on stage any moment to deliver Prospero's closing remarks in "The Tempest" ("We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep").
VENICE — Yesterday's Al Pacino vehicle here at Venice, "The Humbling," was a disappointment: this is not the Pacino you are looking for. Thank goodness, then, for "Manglehorn", where the sure directorial hands of David Gordon Green know exactly how to unlock latter day Pacino's strengths while reining in his worst excesses.
TELLURIDE — While press and patrons were hustling into gondolas and over to the Chuck Jones Cinema for the World Premiere of Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild," the 41st annual Telluride Film Festival was kicking off with a bang at an over-stuffed Werner Herzog Theater for the lead program of this year's schedule: a tribute to Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now." The ticket was so hot that well over a hundred pass holders were turned away at the door.
TELLURIDE — There are two reasons Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing references "The Enigma" in its title. The first is in reference to the Engima machine, the legendary secret code the Nazis used during World War II, which was solved by a secret UK military division lead by Turing. The second is Turing himself.
VENICE — Your enjoyment of dodgy comedy "She's Funny That Way" will depend hugely on your personal tolerance for coincidence as plot mechanic. How many coincidences need to occur before the characters might as well start saying "a wizard did it" by way of explaining the wherefores of the plot? What's your personal tipping point? Perhaps your answer will depend on genre. Even in sci-fi or fantasy, "a wizard did it" is still a pretty poor explanation unless the wizard has a satisfying motive. In a more realistic genre, the greater the number of coincidences, the greater the strain on audience credulity. The genre of farce, though broadly realistic (there are usually no wizards), is of course often borderline fantastical in terms of the believability of people's behavior and the frequency with which coincidence craps all over the characters' hopes and dreams. "She's Funny That Way" leans heavily on this creaky genre convention until it finally gives way and collapses.
TELLURIDE — There is a moment near the end of "Wild" where Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) runs into a young boy and his grandmother out on a weekend hike. Strayed has walked hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to deal with personal, emotional pain that has plagued her most of her young adult life. After learning of Strayed's heartbreaks the young boy (Evan O'Toole) sings her the song "Red River Valley." In the hands of a lesser director this scene could have been overly saccharine and misplaced. But director Jean-Marc Vallée makes it as artful and touching as it needs to be. Clearly, we should not have doubted him.
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.