There’s too much happening to file. 12 Years A Slave begins in 50 minutes. My video files of the Redford-Chandor interview are still converting to mp4 so I have to leave the computer at the inn. A possible interview with Blue Is The Warmest Color girls might happen around 10 or 10:30 tonight…maybe. I’ll just have to file stuff late.
I’m enraged…okay, irked to hear that people at yesterday’s screening of J.C. Chandor‘s incontestably brilliant All is Lost were giving it three stars out of five. Or were going “yeah, pretty good but not amazing” or words to that effect. “I think some people just weren’t prepared for it,” a cinematographer friend told me last night. She means they were a bit thrown by the almost total lack of dialogue and the fact that it’s all Redford, all the time — i.e., no other characters. There hasn’t been a more or less dialogue-free film that has delivered this effectively in I don’t how long. (The Artist doesn’t count — different animal.). Trust me, All Is Lost is not falling short at the Telluride Film Festival — it’s the audiences. But what can you do? You can’t get out the stick and order people to be more perceptive. Their aesthetic dispositions are their own affair. They either get what they’re seeing or they don’t.
Film buffs who go to festivals like Telluride have been more or less trained like poodles to sit up on their hind legs and go “yap! yap!” whenever a new Coppola comes along and makes a film. Gia Coppola, director-writer of the occasionally irksome but mostly decent Palo Alto, is the latest recipient of this largesse. My attitude is that talented filmmakers deserve respect and allegiance, even if their paths have been paved by family connections. And it has to be acknowledged that The Latest Coppola has delivered a pretty good film here. Or at least one that I felt more or less okay with when it ended.
I talked things over with three or four colleagues after it ended, and we were mostly agreed with Gia Coppola shouldn’t be penalized for being the granddaughter of Francis because her work is certainly above-average.
Based on producer and costar James Franco’s same-titled short story collection, it’s basically about a demimonde of Northern California teens revelling in vacant nihilism and coping with the tug of nascent adulthood. In that sense it sometimes feels boring as shit because most teenagers — hello? — are boring as shit to hang with. I knew that when I was 17 even and I really know that now. Teenage males, in particular. All but worthless, not into anything, hormonal dogs, booze-swilling, to some extent self-destructive…go away and come back when you’re 29 or 30.
Everyone hates the Telluride Film Festival slotting of Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years A Slave, which screens today at the Galaxy at 7:30 pm. That’s because this 134-minute must-see film (i.e., journos can’t skip) is interfering with so many other screenings. It kills attending the 6:30 pm T-Bone Burnett and Coen Bros. tribute. It kills seeing Jonathan Glazer‘s Under The Skin at 7:15 or whatever. It kills seeing Prisoners at 6 pm at “the Zog.” It kills seeing The Past at 9 pm. If I was a Telluride programmer I would fix it so that the films that everyone really wants to see (as opposed to those films that people kinda want to see) don’t fight with each other so much.
Perhaps I need to see Errol Morris‘s The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld once or twice more, but my initial impression was one of muted fascination and at the same time vague disappointment. I feel I know Rumsfeld pretty well from his innumerable interviews and press conferences during the Bush years so I went in wanting to know him a little better. I’m not sure that I got that from Morris’s film, although I was certainly engaged start to finish.
The doc is an examination of who and what Rumsfeld is by way of his “snowflakes” — i.e., thousands of memos he dictated over the decades. But when one of the flakes exposes some chink in the armor, Rumsfeld shrugs and grins and throws up his hands and spins it around in his usual way.
For me the most interesting aspect was the straight biographical stuff.
Here’s what I texted to a friend last night: “Efficient, engaging, chilly, a bit frustrating. The obvious similarity to The Fog of War makes it feel deja vu-ish, but that 2004 Oscar winner was a haunting cautionary fable that stayed with you. And it was more emotional than the Rumsfeld doc, or for me it was. The Unknown Known boils down to being an exercise in the study of denial and spin and revelation and doublespeak. Perhaps the man is impenetrable. I know there’s no catharsis in the film. It’s a good intelligent work that didn’t knock my boots off.”
It’s 8 am in Telluride — less than an hour to get to the 9 am Palo Alto screening at “the Zog.” The upside is that it won’t be too crowded and I can “get it out of the way,” as I’ve been saying from time to time since I arrived here two days ago. 11:05 am update: I saw it this morning, tapping out a response now. I really hate watching teenage nihilism. There’s no aesthetic beneath it. I guess I’m really saying that teenagers are deathly boring as dramatic protagonists. They’re anxious, uncertain, confused, withdrawn…later. Give me protagonists who are fighters, schemers, lovers, poets, politicians — anything but teenagers.
Toward the end of Thursday’s Patron’s Brunch Blue is The Warmest Color star Adele Exarchopoulos and costar Jeremie Lahuerte (with whom I had spoken briefly and taken a shot of) strolled out into a nearby field and savored a moment. Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone took this pic while waiting for the shuttle. She was hardly violating their privacy — dozens of others were checking them out as they also waited for a ride back to town.
Today, the first full day of the 2013 Telluride Film Festival, was one of no small expenditure. A 6:30 wake-up and 2 and 1/2 hours of writing. Picked up festival pass and waited in line for a full hour to get on the bus to the Patron’s Picnic. Enjoyed brunch for about 90 minutes, give or take. Uploaded photos to HE, barely made it to 2:30 pm screening of Labor Day at Chuck Jones. Learned on gondola that volunteers are referring to Werner Herzog cinema as “the Zog.” Back down to village, wrote scattershot review of Labor Day, just made it to 7 pm screening of Inside Llewyn Davis at Galaxy. Had to leave 25 minutes before it ended to make 9 pm screening of Erroll Morris‘s The Unknown Known, his Fog of War-ish Donald Rumsfeld doc. Decided against attending 11:45 pm screening of Jonathan Glazer‘s Under The Skin — too whipped. It’s now just after midnight and I need six. Up again tomorrow at 6:30.