David Poland wrote this morning in the Hot Blog that “the big films at Telluride have been the big films that were expected to fill that need and will be, with a few additions, the big titles at Toronto as well: The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, I’m Not There, The Savages, Into The Wild and Juno.” Fine, but take Juno out of the equation and that’s a fairly elitist assessment.

From those with the ability to recognize impassioned, cliff-leaping filmmaking, Butterfly will win respect and applause even if the actual watching of it, in the final analysis, is somewhat akin to gentle root canal surgery….the dentist’s drill boring into your jaw as you’re filled with spirit-lifting, life-affirming thoughts, as well as ones about claustrophobia, straight-jackets and total body entrapment.

Into The Wild is Sean Penn‘s absolute best film, but the more you think about and read up on the real Chris McCandless the next day the more it starts to tick you off. I was impressed by Penn’s passion (and I love the ending), but I wasn’t persuaded that his take on McCandless reflects what really happened, or who McCandless really was. A must-see, naturally, but for a film to be “big” it has to generate serious excitement and emotional rapport.

The Savages is sad, smart and very well acted. But it’s drearier than shit — right away you’re saying to yourself, “Wow, excellent indie character piece but how much longer before it’s over?” It makes you half-wonder why Phillip Seymour Hoffman can’t hold on to his Capote weight. (Sorry for the ticky neurosis, but it bothered me.) Phillip Bosco‘s angry-old-man-with-dementia performance — “good” as it is — filled me with an urge to bail. “I’m not going to watch this guy spit saliva and groan about the end of his life for another hour or so,” I told myself. Then, thank God, he went away.

Everyone will, of course, need to see I’m Not There, but from what I’m reading and where I’m sitting it seems to have been pretty much written off as a loopy in-joke for Dylanologists. Not “written off” as in “don’t see it” as much as “Blanchett aside, don’t expect all that much.”