Saturday, July 6, 2013

Best of the Week/Usual Suspects Part Three: The Conclusion

Good Saturday to All...


Here's the flashback best the best material I posted this past week:


Last week's Ten Bets were:

1) Nebraska
2) The Past
3) Daughter of the Dawn
4) Aguirre: The Wrath of God
5) The Immigrant
6) Life Itself
7) The Invisible Woman
8) Labor Day
9) 12 Years a Slave
10) Like Father, Like Son

This week's Ten Bets:

1) Nebraska
2) The Invisible Woman
3) The Past
4) The Unknown Known
5) A Story of Children and Film
6) Daughter of the Dawn
7) The Immigrant
8) Aguirre: The Wrath of God
9) Labor Day
10) The Selfish Giant

Note:  With the removal of "Life Itself" (see Tuesday's blog post) a spot opened up.  It wasn't difficult to fill.  I added "The Unknown Known"  as its replacement on the list. "

"A Story of Children and Film" replaces "12 Years a Slave", though I still am fairly bullish that we'll see the McQueen film.

"The Selfish Giant" replaces "Like Father Like Son " but the two of them are part of four Sundance Selects films any or all of which might be in Telluride.  The other two being "Blue is the Warmest Color" and "Young and Beautiful".  They seem virtually interchangeable in as far as the "Ten Bets" list is concerned and probably will be for the next few weeks unless I garner some compelling evidence that one has a greater chance than the others.


Today I'm looking at Roadside Attractions and Magnolia.

Roadside Attractions:  This entity has just become a player at Telluride in the last four years.  Prior to 2010 they didn't have a presence in the previous decade.  Even then, they've been limited to one film in each of the past three years but they've been fairly impressive films:

2010: Biutiful
2011: Albert Nobbs
2012: Stories We Tell

Between them, Biutiful and Albert Nobbs were nominated for 5 Oscars.  "Stories We Tell" is almost certainly headed to an Oscar nomination this year for documentary and there is some scuttlebutt that we could see it break into the Best Picture, Director categories as well.

So what does Roadside Attractions have in its quiver.  3 possibilities, it seems:

"All is Lost"
"Blood Ties"

"All is Lost" is J.C. Chandor's follow up to his well received, Oscar nominated (Original Screenplay) 2011 film "Margin Call".  It stars Robert Redford in a performance with minimal dialogue that played phenomenally well out-of-competition at Cannes.  Actually, there was some commentary that it SHOULD have been in the competition and that Redford might well have been named Best Actor.  Certainly the film is on a lot of radars for potential year end recognition.

I'll be interested to see if it shows at Telluride especially in light of the films Sundance Film Fest connections: Redford, of course, and "Margin Call" got its start there.

Still, if you want to keep attention on Redford's performance, Telluride would be a cool move.

"Gloria"  made a big splash at the Berlin Film Fest in February winning 3 awards including Best Actress for Paulina Garcia.  TFF often includes a title or two from the Berlin fest and this seems like a real possibility.

"Blood Ties"  This film from French actor/director/writer Guillaume Canet was pretty high on my list of Cannes films to consider for Telluride but its cool critical reception at Cannes has made me back off my bullishness about it.  Still, James Gray co-wrote and executive produced and it seems that he will likely have a presence at this year's fest.

This could also be the year that Roadside Attractions has more than one film in the lineup.

"Gloria" 50%
"All is Lost" 50%
"Blood Ties" 50%

Today's other exploration of domestic distributors is Magnolia Pictures.  Their Telluride history for the past decade looks like this:

2004: Keane
2005: The Lost City
2006: Severance
2007: Redacted, The Princess of Nebraska, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Terror's Advocate
2012: The Hunt, A Royal Affair

As you can see, Magnolia had a four year dry spell between 2008-11 but came back last year with two films.  Magnolia's only possible player is Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac".  Von Trier has had some presence at TFF in the past, but it's been a good long time.

My expectation is that Von Trier and Magnolia aren't represented at this year's TFF.

Chances of "Nymphomaniac": 5%


Last week I started looking at U.S. film distributing companies and their relationship with the Telluride Film Festival to see what that might tell us about possible TFF #40 fare.  Today I'm looking at Focus Features and Film Movement.


Focus used to have  a presence at Telluride. Then last year, after a lengthy absence, they returned. Here's the list:

2003: Lost in Translation
2004: The Motorcycle Diaries
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2006: Catch a Fire
2011: Hyde Park on Hudson

The only real shot I think they have for TFF #40 is "Dallas Buyers Club" directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Matthew McConnaughey.  McConnaughey seems to be continuing his streak of high profile and risky roles and is getting some serious Best Actor vibe.  Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner co-star.  Garner has actually been in Telluride the last two years running with her own "Butter" in 2011 and with husband Ben Affleck for his "Argo" last year.

Although I'd personally love this to be on the TFF list, I'm not that hopeful.  Put its chances at least for now.  Say this, though..."Dallas Buyers Club" IS the sort of high profile thing that Telluride and Focus seem to partner on.


This little known distribution outfit has been in and out as a presenter at Telluride over the past few years.

2004: Aaltra
2005: Be with Me
2009: Gigante
2010: If I want to Whistle, I Whistle

Film Movement has a couple of Cannes titles that might find their way onto the Telluride playlist:

"Ilo Ilo" from writer/director Anthony Chen and "2 Autumns, 3 Winters" from writer/director Sebastien Betbeder.  I give both films about a 30% chance.

Just yesterday, The Playlist tweeted that Film Movement had acquired rights to "Grigris" directed by Mahamet-Saleh Haroun.  "Grigris" played in competition at Cannes.  This could also mean a spot for the film at Telluide.  Put it at the same 30%.


After a week and a half of looking at U.S. film distributors, today I'll conclude the series by looking at three small outfits that occasionally have a film in play at the Telluride Film Festival and that might again this year.


Here's what Strand has had at Telluride in the recent past:

2010: Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff
2011: Bonsai
2012: Paradise: Love

So, Strand has been very consistent recently.  Another common thread is that all three of the above films played in some capacity at Cannes.  So the question becomes, does Strand have a project that fits this profile?  The answer is yes...

"Stranger by the Lake" played in the Un Certain Regard section and was fairly well received.  It also picked up the directing award for the UCR section for director/writer Alain Guiraudie.

All in all, this is strong circumstantial evidence that we'll probably have a chance to see the film at TFF #40.

Chances: 65%


A24 has also been a smallish player at Telluride...and by smallish, I mean, their only past appearance was last year with Sally Potter's "Ginger and Rosa".  That probably had as much to do with it being Potter's film as anything as she has been at Telluride with previous work (Yes-'04).  A24 has also only been around for a couple of years.

However, just this week A@$ announced that they had closed a deal to distribute "The Rover" which makes it something to watch for come Labor Day weekend.  "The Rover" is directed and co-written by David Michod (written with actor Joel Edgerton).

Here's a link from Thompson on Hollywood about the A24 acquisition:

And from Hit Fix:

 Chances for "The Rover" 30%


LD Entertainment is also a relative newcomer to the distribution game having just started in 2009.  In that short time, however, the company has been represented at Telluride twice.

2010: Biutiful
2011: Albert Nobbs

This year the firm has Charlie Stratton's "Therese" with Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange and not for nothing, Oscar Issac ...who also plays the title role in the Coen Brothers "Inside Llewyn Davis" as a possible feature for Telluride consumption.  "Therese" is based on the novel by Emile Zola and is not to be confused with the Audrey Tautou film of essentially the same name.

"Therese" has a 30% chance to play at Telluride.


Over the weekend Kristopher Tapley at InContention/HitFix posted a story about Bennet Miller's "Foxcatcher" and where it might end up distribution-wise.

The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell and Channing Tatum and is based on the true story of John DuPont and  the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.

I've had it on the edge of the SHOW's 2013 radar but haven't been particularly bullish on it.  Miller's directing debut "Capote" was a big hit out of TFF in 2005.  It earned Philip Seymour Hoffman the Oscar for Best Actor and 4 other nominations including Picture, Direction and Adapted Screenplay.  Bot Miller's sophomore effort, "Moneyball" didn't play Telluride in 2011 and that has really colored my thinking about "Foxcatcher"

Now comes Tapley's story in which he speculates that the film may be put into the hands of Sony's specialty shop Sony Pictures Classics...which is where "Capote" was distributed in '05.  That makes me re-think the situation.  It certainly increases our chances of seeing it Labor Day weekend.

Tapley writes:

"Multiple sources have told me the film could be distributed through Sony Pictures Classics, no stranger to juggling numerous films during an awards season. However, it's also possible the film, which hasn't been dated yet, doesn't make it out for 2013 at all."

He also adds:

"Sony Classics wouldn't confirm a move and Sony Pictures did not respond to a request for comment, so treat all this as (awful, terrible, rumor-mongering) speculation for now, but it seems to me it would be a good fit. "Foxcatcher" would give SPC a latter year release with real meat on its bones, and Miller is hot, coming off of 2011's "Moneyball," which went out through Sony."

Here's the link to Tapley's complete story:

So, "Foxcatcher" may be a possibility after all.


Mark Cousins has become a common presence at the Telluride Film Festival (2009: "The First Movie", 2011; "The Story of Film: An Odyssey", 2012: "What is This Film Called Love?")  and although I didn't have his latest work listed last Friday on the first "Ten Bets" list for TFF #40...he'll almost certainly be on that list this week.  His latest compilation played at Cannes and continues his exploration of film.  It's entitled "A Story of Children and Film".

The Guardian recently profiled Cousins and the film retrospective.  Here that is:

TCM will be playing Cousins entire 15 part "Odyssey" beginning on Sept. 2...the day this year's festival concludes...Coincidence?  I doubt it.

Thompson on Hollywood had that story:

I'm saying that Cousins will be back and "A Story of Children and Film" will play.


A new trailer for the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" dropped yesterday.  It's very good.  If you've ever cared about music deeply...

I have linked four posts:

The Playlist:

Awards Daily:


Rope of Silicon:

If I haven't mentioned this, I would really love to see this in Telluride...


Last Friday I listed Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" as #9 on my initial "Ten Bets" list.  It is one of my most anticipated titles of 2013.  News came at the end of the week last week that the films release date has been moved dramatically forward.  It had been scheduled for a December release.  Now it'll be bowing on October 18.

Multiple posts about the move and its implications are listed here:

Thompson on Hollywood:

The Playlist:


Rope of Silicon:

Movie City News:

Anne Thompson says in her post that the date change increases the chances that it will play "the early fall festival circuit".  She cites Venice specifically.

Kevin Jagernauth of the Playlist also says that "it's probably safe to say that the studio thinks it can build on a strong showing on the fall festival circuit".  He also cites Venice specifically.

My hope is that "fall film festival circuit" includes Telluride in addition to Venice and Toronto.


Speaking of Alexander Payne, he recently sat down to an interview at the Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy.  Meredith Brody reports for Thompson on Hollywood:


Today I begin a three part series about "The Usual Suspects".  Not the film, though it IS fantastic.  No.  What I'm referring to are the company of film makers and film biz pros, actors, directors and others that seem to appear as a part of the Telluride Film Festival with some frequency.  The reason: paying attention to these "usual suspects" can often provide solid clues as to films that may show at The SHOW.

This week I posted the Mark Cousins story that suggests that his most recent work "A Story of Children and Film" is a likely title for TFF #40.  That's largely because Cousins has been on the T-ride slate for 3 of the last 4 years and has this new project ready...and it was also well received at Cannes.  Cousins has made it onto the list of "The Usual Suspects".  It's a surprisingly lengthy list, currently 35 names.

Some people don't stay on the its early days, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese would have probably been on a "Usual Suspects" list.  They haven't been a part of a Telluride fest in they're no longer on the list.

Some people go on and off...Buck Henry and Peter Bogdanovich are good examples.

Certainly not every one of the 35 currently on my list have projects every year but with that many people, there are usually plenty of "usual suspects" to contemplate.

In addition to Cousins, two of the most "usual" are Werner Herzog and Ken Burns.  They're festival fixtures and almost always have some project that is possible for inclusion.  In addition, Herzog will have the new 650 seat venue in Town Park christened in his honor.  So you have to believe Herzog will be represented by film or films.  My bet is the recently restored "Aguirre: Wrath of God" that is currently being screened in England.

Burns is said to be involved with the restored silent film "Daughter of the Dawn" which I expect to be a part of the TFF #40 lineup.

Another of the most recent "Usuals" is Alexander Payne who has Guest Directed, shown his own work and has scouted and aided in programming.  All this coming in the last few years.  I'm very confident his new film, "Nebraska" will make this year's program.

There are another 8 "usual suspects" that I think have a shot at being involved with a film at this year's SHOW and I'll be looking at them in "The Usual Suspects Parts Two and Three" over the next two days.


Yesterday I began a three part series focusing on some of the Telluride "Usual Suspects" and what they might have in store for this year's festival.  In Part One I mentioned Mark Cousins, Werner Herzog, Ken Burns and Alexander Payne

I today's Part Two we begin with Steve McQueen.  McQueen certainly has one of the higher profile films of the fall season awaiting.  His "12 Years a Slave" is expected to make a lot of noise.  McQueen's thrid feature follows his "Hunger" and "Shame" which both played at Telluride.  I fully expect, as do many others, that "12 Years" will be a part of the Venice lineup.  The question becomes whether the film follows the path "Shame" did as it also played Venice...Telluride...Toronto and New York.

For awhile, I thought that I was the only one that thought that "12 Years" might follow the "Shame" path...but I have since discovered that there are a number of others who thin it could happen.  Enough so that "12 Years" made it onto my initial "Ten Bets" list last week.

Usual Suspect #6: Roger Michell.  The South African born director appears at T-ride with some frequency.  Last year he had "Hyde Park on Hudson".  In prior years he has been included with "Venus"and "Enduring Love".  Michell's new film "Le weekend" stars Jeff Goldblum (present in Telluride in 2008 for "Adam Resurrected"), Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.

Frankly, I could see this being on the SHOW list, but for some reason, I'm rather dubious.  The U.S. distributor is Music Box Films... which distributed Herzog's "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" in 2010" so there is some tenuous history there. Still, I'm doubtful.  Put "Le Weekend's chances at 25%.

Usual Suspect #7 is Errol Morris.  Errol plays in Telluride a good bit too.  Last year as a producer on "The Act of Killig"  In 2010: "Tabloid".  "Fog of War" in 2003.  Morris has a go at his first directing gig of a fictional work with "Freezing People is Easy" starring Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken.  But it doesn't seem to be ready.  What does seem to be ready is the Morris directed documentary about Donald Rumsfeld: "The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld'.  I think you can almost count on it being on the playlist for TFF #40.

And you have to wonder a little...when Morris did "Fog of War" in 2003, his subject, Robert McNamara came along.  Any chance Rumsfeld would?

Usual Suspect #8: Stephen Frears:  The Brit director was last represented in Telluride with "Tamara Drewe".  He was tributed in 1987 along with a screening of "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid".  His latest project has "prestige" smeared all over it.  Perpetual Oscar nominee Judi Dench stars in "Philomena" which also has The Weinstein Company as its distributor.

I think it seems like about a 40% chance of playing this year.


And now for the final four "Usual Suspects" that I've been talking about the latter half of this week.  People that are frequent guests, contributors, etc. to the Telluride Film Festival that may have a dog in the hunt this year.

Usual Suspect #9: Laura Linney: She's a past tributee. She's a part time Telluride resident, married to a full time Telluride resident.  She's been in many a Telluride film: "Kinsey", "The Savages", "Hyde Park on Hudson", "P.S."and "Jindabyne".  

She's in a hot commodity film that has Telluride potential: Bill Condon's  (Linney's "Kinsey" director) "The Fifth Estate" which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks guru Julian Assange.

Personally, I'd really love for this to be a part of The SHOW and it ha the above characteristics in its favor...but...Touchstone/Disney has the distribution and there is such a thin, virtually non-existent Telluride relationship from the past as to make it seem less likely.  DreamWorks SKG  and Participant Media are listed by IMDb as the production companies. Participant was a producer for Pablo Larrain's "No" in 2012.  I can't find a DreamWorks SKG produced film in the last decade that has played T-ride.
All in all it seems a wash to me.  Put "The Fifth Estate" at a 40% chance.

Usual Suspect #10 is Sylvain Chomet.  The animation director has been a part of Telluride with both "The Triplets of Belleville" (2003) and "The Illusionist" (2010).  Now, he has his first live action film as a Telluride possibility.  "Attila Marcel" may not be ready in time, however. Its IMDb page is here:

Chances 20%

Usual Suspect #11 is Kevin Macdonald.  Macdonald's Telluride start has come and gone but could be coming back again.  His films at Telluride include: "The Last King of Scotland" (2006), "My Enemy's Enemy" (2007) and "Touching the Void" (2003).  He currently has the documentary "Christmas in a Day" and the feature "How I Live Now" starring Saoirse Ronan in the hopper.  Of the two, I think "How I Live..." might have the better shot.  Film4 and the UK Film Council both have had a hand in the production and are often represented with films at Telluride.

Chances: "How I Live Now" 30%
"Christmas in a Day" 15%

"Usual Suspects" #12: Bertrand Tavernier: He's a member of TFF's "Esteemed Council of Advisers" (along with Herzog and Morris among others).  Tavernier's last Telluride presentation of a film came in 2010 with "The Princess of Montpensier". Other Tavernier films that have played T-ride: "A Sunday in the Country"('84), "L.267" ('93), "Fresh Bait" ('95), "Captain Conan" ('97), "Safe Passage" ('02).

There's a lot of Tavernier history at Telluride.

His latest film is "Quai d'Qrsay".  I really don't have much more info on the film, but because its Tavernier, my guess is that there's an excellent chance that it makes the TFF #40 program.

"Quai d'Orsay" chances: 55%

So, those are this year's "Usual Suspects."  We'll almost certainly see work from Herzog, Morris, Cousins, Burns and Payne.

We may see work from Linney, McQueen and Frears.

Outside possibilities include work from: Chomet, Macdonald and Michell.

Have a great weekend...More on Monday.

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