Sunday August 5 – Day 3
I wake up early to see BIUTIFUL, Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu’s film starring a feral, brooding Javier Bardem. I know we’re playing it at Morelia out of competition so I convince myself I should see it here in case I need to intro and q&a in Mexico. Before the film starts I am embarrassed to lose the stupid trivia question posed by the ringleader (the intro person – these people adopt names for everything ) to some geek in the next row who gets called on to answer. I blame it on the fact that the question was way too easy: “Inarritu is often mentioned as part of the three amigos, name the other two”…. I think, is that really the question? I turn my head and look at the anglo audience and raise my hand. The geek correctly says Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron. The ringleaders act like fluffers at screenings here. They warm things by doing team building exercises like this before each film. Its all part of the charm in this too gorgeous to be true town where nobody locks their doors and the library rents out bikes for free. Its so damn beautiful its unsettling. I can’t get use to it. I am full of awe half of the time and the other half I fantasize how this small secluded town offers a deliciously deceptive story setting which would involve a twisted and sordid secret. Cue the theme of Twin Peaks. Back to the film – The audience preemptively claps at the beginning credits which I find annoyingly sycophantic. I recall Indiewire’s Eric Kohn’s review in Cannes where he deemed it misguided melodrama. All I know is it’s the first film Innaritu has done without Guillermo Arriaga’s screenplay. I won’t deny it, I was terribly moved by it and appreciated how this unlike his other films is a much more personal story. Its true it has a really heavy premise to begin with but Javier is strong enough to carry it on his shoulders. What I truly loved is seeing in Inarritu’s film what may surely be his amigo Del Toro’s influence. The story has a supernatural edge to it, and mysterious cinematic images appear and vanish surreptitiously. Its like a neo magicrealism. It has a Shymalan sub-story which lends itself to disarmingly stimulating shots. Without going into spoiler alerts, its basically Javier, a single dad who finds he’s sick and must sort out his affairs before he leaves. It’s interesting to see Spain depicted so miserably, and the immigration thread of the story – two perspectives I don’t see often conveyed in films.
I start my noon to 6 shift where I witness the longest line in the world for Arronofsky’s BLACK SWAN. People are in line at 11am for the 2:30pm film. When the audience lets out, there are question marks attached to their heads, and the opinions we do hear are mostly dire. Before my shift ends I take a gamble and go see a 1976 Peter Weir film. They are doing a tribute to the Aussie here and his new movie I read just sold to NewMarket. The film is called THE PLUMBER. Probably my least favorite of the festival. Its about this grad student yuppie who’s terrorized by this phony plumber. It nearly all takes place inside the dorms. It does manage to scratch at the character’s depth, which ostensibly Weir later develops fantastically like in Truman Show but the Plumber is unable to fly past the belief it requires of the audience that the yuppie is somehow beholden to this crude man. The last film of my Saturday night is the French-Canadian-Lebanese film, INCENDIES by Denis Villaneuve. I read it has just premiered in Venice to a standing ovation. It must have been too much to handle for the audience here because the film received one of those ‘sarcastic clapping’ at the end. Denis gets up (he’s very secksi) to intro the film and says when Telluride invites you don’t ask questions you just go. The film is apparently based on a play which I’m not familiar with but I can see how its inherent greek tragedy-ness is surely milked on stage. I found his approach to the film peculiar. He uses huge font crimson red block letters to divide the the film’s chapters and uses the Radiohead song You and Whose Army a lot throughout the modern day scenes. I was very much engaged with the storyline of twins whose mother’s last wish is for them to find their brother and father they never knew of. Its mostly shot in Jordan and it interweaves the present day adult siblings’ journey to find out their family’s secret. The twist, or rather final reveal about the twins father and brother is unleashed in the 3rd act to an audible collective ‘oh no’ gasp throughout the audience which felt like a train stop where many people got off, and few others like me stayed on. That’s how powerful the film works. Its also worthy to note that the reveal is not explicitly stated but rather extracted by everyone at the same time. I overhear someone call it far-fetched. How in the world is one to judge a story far-fetched? After the screening I finally get a chance to hang with Whitney who’s here with THE KINGS SPEECH. We head to a nice sophisticated bar and have a couple gin gimlets on Harvey. We sit next to Joe a dinosaur who reviews films for WSJ. He confesses he is not crazy about Black Swan. I crash with Whitney at her enviable digs, the highly luxurious 6 star hotel, Capella up the mountain gondola. We run into the producers of Kings Speech in the lobby – more people trashing Black Swan. One of them says its like Show girls and I think that sounds Awesome. I sleep on the highest count thread imaginable and finally get a good night sleep.