Ah, Telluride, a true film-lover's festival, where the schedule veers between revivals of obscure Soviet "comedies" to documentaries about subsistence farmers in India to big Hollywood premieres. And it's a filmmaker's paradise, where stars and directors can walk around relatively unmolested. Autograph hounding is strictly verboten — or at least widely frowned upon.
Other celebs spotted so far are British actress Tilda Swinton, who is considerably taller than I expected; Jennifer Garner, who's staying in our hotel; and Glenn Close, whose new movie features her as a woman pretending to be a man.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to score a higher-level pass this year, so I don't have access to the big Hollywood premieres. Which meant I wasn't able to attend the new Alexander Payne film, The Descendants, starring George Clooney as a divorced father in Hawaii who is suddenly forced to be a full-time dad to his two teenage daughters after his ex-wife is critically injured.
Aside from the fact that both Payne and Clooney took part in a post-screening Q&A, I'm also bummed because everyone I've talked to who saw the film are saying it could be Payne's best film. I'm not sure how anyone could top Sideways or Election, but Payne has a knack for weaving humor into human stories.
Now, could some viewers have gotten a little over-enthusiastic because the filmmakers were present? Possible, but I must concede that last night I saw Herzog's new doc, Into the Abyss, with the famed German sitting a few rows behind us and was disappointed. The film examines a brutal murder in Texas in which two teenagers were convicted of killing a woman, her son and a mutual friend to get their hands on a Camaro.
Herzog makes good use of police-shot crime scene footage and interviews both killers, one of whom is scheduled to die by lethal injection, but to me the movie lacked focus. It wasn't clear why he'd picked this crime or these convicted murderers. Herzog reveals early on that he's anti-death penalty, but doesn't make a strong case against it. More than anything, you're left pondering the senselessness of the crime.
* (Full disclosure alert: My wife works for Turner Classic Movies, venue sponsor for the Palm.)
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