TELLURIDE — If you asked me to pick between the three commanding, sure-fire awards-contending lead actor performances on display at this year's Telluride Film Festival, I'd have a break down. Yet that's just what Academy voters will surely be asked to do in a few months' time, with added pressure in the form of whoever fills out the rest of the competitive category.
TELLURIDE — Mr. Stewart, if you read this article I believe the first few paragraphs may make you chuckle. Now, it's not because I'm a master wordsmith or unheralded comedic voice waiting to be discovered. No, after saying goodbye after our memorable interview on the patio of a Telluride restaurant Sunday afternoon, I turned and walked toward the street with my iPhone in hand. I'd stopped the recording of our chat and two choices appeared before me: delete or save. And, perhaps like a crazy person, I hit delete.
TELLURIDE — Actor Ethan Hawke is in the middle of a career high right now. In the space of a year he has been a part of two landmark films from director Richard Linklater, "Before Midnight" and "Boyhood," each of them the result of years and years of work exploring characters as they change across a wide spectrum of time. He has two films set to play the Venice Film Festival next week in Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" and Michael Almereyda's "Cymbeline" and he's here in Telluride with his own directorial effort, an emotional documentary that is ostensibly a portrait of pianist Seymour Bernstein, but on a deeper level is an exploration by Hawke of finding satisfaction in one's art.
Some are already trying to figure out the "Birdman" backlash after the film dropped to raves in Venice, but sometimes the hype is justified, and make no mistake about it: Alejandro González Iñárritu's manic dissection of an artist desperate for fulfillment outside of commercial success is an out-and-out masterpiece.
VENICE — There's a piece of slang used on the website TV Tropes that regrettably applies to much of "The Cut." That word is "narm." Narm is defined as a moment that is supposed to be serious or tear-jerking, but due to poor execution becomes unintentionally funny. "The Cut" is unfortunately the narmiest drama I've seen at Venice.
TELLURIDE — When Fox Searchlight's "Wild" landed Friday afternoon in Telluride, the Oscar fuse was instantly lit for star and producer Reese Witherspoon. But as our own Greg Ellwood noted in his review, after last year's "Dallas Buyers Club," director Jean-Marc Vallée seems almost destined to again be the unsung hero of a film that leaves audiences talking about the power of its performances and the efficiency of its economy.
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.
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 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").