Saturday, August 10, 2013

Best of the Week/The Unified Clooney Theory Part Two/Come and Play/Ranking the Film/Philomena Trailer

Good Saturday from Salida, Colorado...

As I have been doing all summer, here's a look back at the best material that ran this week on Michael's Telluride Film Blog:



This week's "Ten Bets" shows some changes as I ran across some (what appears to be) solid information this week...including the next story listed below.  Consequently, there is some movement on this week's "Bets".

Further, I've about reached the point that I'm ready to go past ten bets...perhaps next week.

Last week's "Ten Bets" were:

1) Nebraska
2) The Invisible Woman
3) The Past
4) The Immigrant
5) Inside Llewyn Davis
6) Labor Day
7) The Story of Children and Film
8) Blue is the Warmest Color
9) The Unknown Known
10) The Lunchbox

This week:

1) Nebraska
2) Inside Llewyn Davis
3) Labor Day
4) The Invisible Woman
5) The Unknown Known
6) The Past
7) The Immigrant
8) All is Lost
9) Gravity
10) The Story of Children and Film

Just below the "Ten Bets"; "Blue is the Warmest Color", "Life Itself", "Philomena", "The Lunchbox", "12 Years a Slave", "Aguirre; The Wrath of God", "Daughter of the Dawn", ""Quay d'Orsay", "The Good Lie", "Enough Said", "Heli", "Only Lovers Left Alive", "Child's Pose","You Are Here" and "Gloria".


I'm having a hard time believing we still don't know the Guest Director for this year's Telluride Film Festival. I've offered up a couple of theories over these past few months.  Initially I thought it might be "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner who was reportedly a guest at TFF's Hollywood party back in June.  (Check out my June 12th post).  No announcement came, however.

Then I got it into my head that the Fest might be holding off to make a BIG announcement during the week of Venice/Toronto festival lineup announcements.  Along with that, I suggested the notion that the Guest Director might be someone that has an immense popular profile.  I confess, I was thinking crazy BIG names and I also suggested that the person might come from music or politics.  Names like Jagger and Clinton were in my head.

Didn't happen.

Now, I'm completely mystified.

And if you're having trouble with the Guest Director spot TFF, I have further suggestions:

1) Werner know he'll be there.  He's got a new theater named in his honor.

2) Have 6 of them...I'll bet you have at least 6 past Guest Directors in attendance.  Have each of them select one film from the list they originally programmed.   Or cross-pollinate them...have an Alexander Payne program one film from Errol Morris' original list.

Here's the last of all past directors:

1988- Donald Richie
1989- Errol Morris
1990- Bertrand Tavernier
1991- Laurie Anderson
1992- G. Cabrera Infante
1993- John Boorman
1994- John Simon
1995- Phillip Lopate
1996- B. Ruby Rich
1997- Peter Von Bagh
1998- Peter Bogdanovich
1999- Peter Sellars
2000- Edgardo Coranzinsky
2001- Salman Rushdie
2002- Alberto Barbera
2003- Stephen Sondheim
2004- Buck Henry
2005- Don Delillo
2006- J. P. Gorin
2007- Edith Kramer
2008- Slavoj Zizek
2009- Alexander Payne
2010- Michael Ondaatje
2011- Cataneo Veloso
2012- Geoff Dyer

I have to believe that Morris, Tavernier, Sellars, Rushdie, Payne and maybe Bogdanovich, Henry and Boorman will be in town.  

Idea #3- Pick me, I'll do it.  Nobody will see that coming.


Overnight, Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere posted his musings on three films that appear to be avoiding the Toronto International Film Festival but that he says are all but certain Telluride fare.  The films: Alexander Payne's "Nebraska", The Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" and J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost".

On its face the post is an interesting look a what Wells thinks may be going in vis-a-vis film programming and Toronto.  For my purposes, it just adds fuel to the fire that the three films play Telluride.

"Nebraska" isn't a surprise.  I've had it at #1 on the "Ten Bets" list all summer.

For "Inside Llewyn Davis" it's another validation of its place on the "Ten Bets" list. As a matter of fact, it might be solid enough now to move up the list a bit this week.

As for "All is Lost", you know if you've been following this space this last couple of weeks that it has been gaining some steam as a possible/probable Telluride selection.  I wouldn't be surprised if it appears somewhere on this week's "Ten Bets" list.

Here's the link to the Wells post:


If you've been reading this blog for the past couple of years, you've almost certainly seen my "Oceans 11" theory the past two summers.  You know, that moment each summer when I go crazy and suggest an incredible string of unlikely scenarios that involve that cast of the Clooney/Pitt/Damon "Oceans" films.

Well, here I go again...only this year...even worse.

Start with Clooney himself...was tributed 2 years ago.   Reportedly really enjoyed his own festival experience.  He's on record saying he'd like to come back.  Reportedly nudged Ben Affleck toward Telluride for "Argo"(on which Clooney was a producer) last year.  That seemed to work out pretty well for all involved.

What's he got that could play?  Scratch "The Monuments Men" which was reported last week  to be unready for Venice.  He is a producer on "August: Osage County".  It has The Weinstein Company as its distributor.  I wouldn't have thought it a likely Telluride choice but I was a little surprised that it appeared on the Toronto playlist last not impossible.  Clooney also appears in Alfonso Curaon's "Gravity" which, likewise, I normally wouldn't regard as a possibility but Kris Tapley at HitFix/InContention suggested that it could happen last week (he reported that Warner's team for it and Denis Villenueve's "Prisoners" will be on the ground in Telluride...ALSO SEE THE "WEIGHTLESSNESS" STORY BELOW).  So, you won't be surprised that I conclude that Clooney could be in town with a flick or two.

How about Mr. Pitt?  Seems like every year on about Tuesday of the week of the Festival there's a "Brad Pitt" sighting in Telluride.  I haven't seen him yet...but that's not to say it couldn't happen.

Pitt is all over Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave".  He's in the film.  He's a producer on the film (as is T-ride-frequenter Bill Pohlad).  Further, my "12 Year" vibe has gotten stronger over the last couple of weeks. I just think it's going to play.  It's lack of inclusion for Venice (barring some late announcement) and its inclusion for Toronto make me feel like it has a very good chance to play The SHOW.

Pitt also is in Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" which I would love to see make Telluride's list but which also hasn't had many mentions in regard to a Telluride slot.

So Pitt has a couple of projects in the "possible" bag.

And Mr. Damon?

He's in "Elysium" out this weekend.  He's in "The Monuments Men"...see above...but hold on...he also appears in Terry Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem".  Gilliam's been to T-ride before.  Damon co-stars with Clooney's co-tributee from 2011...Tilda Swinton.  The cast is led by double Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. So, again, improbable but not impossible.

As sort of a subsidiary to the "Oceans 3" Ben Affleck appears in "Runner Runner" know...maybe.

And then there are the other webs that spring from all of this.

Like The Coen Brothers...

As you know, I've been thinking that "Inside Llewyn Davis" might be happening for a few weeks now.  It actually has made its way onto the "Ten Bets" list.  I think the Coens might be one of the Tributes this year.

And they do have a place in the "United Clooney Theory".  Clooney has appeared for them in "O Brother Where Art Thou?", "Intolerable Cruelty" and "Burn After Reading".  Also don't forget that Pitt was the lead in "Burn After Reading" and that Damon was in "True Grit" for them.

Then there's the Alexander Payne part of the "UCT"...Payne and Clooney working together on "The Descendants".  Payne is very likely to be in Tellruride with "Nebraska"

And finally, let's not forget Jason Reitman who cast Clooney in his 2009 Oscar nominee "Up in the Air" and whom I'm betting will return to Telluride this year with "Labor Day" starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin (also a Coens favorite of late with "No Country for Old Men" and "True Grit").

So, how much of any of this happens?

The most likely story is that "Llewyn", "12 Years" and "Labor Day" play.  "Osage County", "Zero Theorem", "Gravity", "Runner" while all possible, seem unlikely and Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Affleck and Brolin are not in town.  But, you never know...


Jeff Wells and Sasha Stone sat down and re-opened their Oscar Poker collaboration on Sunday which included some talk of Telluride.  The big news is that they all but claim Alfonso Curaon's "Gravity" starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (see above) will play the Telluride Festival.  Both seem a bit coy about it but they don't leave much doubt that they think it will play.

Both are also high on "All is Lost".  Wells says he's "heard" "Inside Llewyn Davis" is on its way and that a Coens Tribute is possible. They also toss around "An Invisible Woman" as a probable choice for T-ride.
Meanwhile, Wells says he thinks "Blue is the Warmest Color" is likely but Stone disagrees.

Stone says "Labor Day" is sure and they both agree "Nebraska" is likely.

You can find the entire podcast here:


Yesterday I posted a link from Jeff Wells' Hollywood Elsewhere that declaimed the likelihood of "Inside Llewyn Davis", "All is Lost" and "Nebraska" as part of this year's Telluride lineup.  Today add to the pile: Ralph Fiennes "An Invisible Woman".  This adds credence to our posting for some time now that the film is a choice for T-ride going back to an English online newspaper account quoting Felicity Jones.

The Wells piece is here:


Three tributes (and occasionally an additional "Special Medallion")...who could they be for this year's 40th Telluride Film Festival.

I've been batting this around in my head for a while now and some friends of the blog have given it some serious thought too.  So, as a way to organize some thoughts about this, let's look at some of my "Ten Bets" films (and some others as well) to see who some possible Tribute candidates are:

Like Alexander Payne's "Nebraska".  You have to believe Bruce Dern is a real Tribute possibility.
"The Invisible Woman"...Ralph Fiennes seems like a possibility.
"Inside Llewyn Davis"...The Coen Brothers...and here's a crazy thought: John Goodman.
"Labor Day"...Kate Winslet (Josh Brolin doesn't feel right).

From other films just below the "Ten Bets"

"12 Years a Slave"...Brad Pitt...if you can fete can fete Pitt.  The rest of the cast and Steve McQueen need more on their resumes...but watch for future tributes for Cumberbatch and Fassbender.

"All is Lost"...Redford...seems like a natural choice.

"Philomena"...Judi Dench would also seem to be a very likely candidate.

With this week's surge that "Gravity" is a very real possibility...Sandra Bullock becomes a part of the tribute conversation.

Then there's Roger Ebert.  I am a firm believer that the Festival will recognize him this year.  My guess is a "Special Medallion"...but it's not a crazy thought that he could be tributed.

Other less likely scenarios:
Julia Roberts if "August: Osage County" makes the lineup.
Ridley Scott with "The Counselor"
Nicole Kidman with "Grace of Monaco" or "The Railway Man"
Matthew McConnaughey with "The Dallas Buyers Club"
Jessica Chastain with "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"
Philip Seymour Hoffman with "A Most Wanted Man"
Paul Giamatti or Billy Bob Thornton with "Parkland"

So those are my thoughts about the most likely candidates.  I have a reader who suggests that there will a third "out of nowhere" selection that non one can see coming...and I'll bet he's absolutely right.


The release came yesterday of new clips from Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" which stars Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt.  I'm still holding a dwindling hope for this to make the Telluride lineup.

Here are links to the new clips via The Playlist and Rope of Silicon:


Also dropping yesterday was a trailer for the James Gandolfini starring "enough said".  There has been a good deal of buzz that this film could very well play Telluride.  The film also stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener.  Stories linked below from HitFix, FirstShowing and The Playlist:


The potential film landscape has really shifted a lot in the past couple of weeks with revelations/expectations for some films that were merely thought as outside possibilities coming into focus in that time period.

In the last 15 days or so we have seen the ascendancy of "Inside Llewyn Davis", "All is Lost" and "Gravity" into serious consideration as Telluride possibles.  We have seen some of the films essentially confirmed that we have been pretty certain of for some time: "Nebraska", "Labor Day" and "The Invisible Woman".

There are some films that we have been high on that we haven't heard very much about in as far as Telluride is concerned.  Nobody is really talking "The Past", "The Unknown Known", "The Immigrant", "Philomena" or "12 Years a Slave"...but I still feel pretty good about all of them.

The New York Fest has claimed "Captain Phillips" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" for its opener and centerpiece.  They still have a closing night film to announce and the rest of their lineup expected in the next 10 days or so.

And there are films that I'd still like to see show up that could but about which there hasn't been any scuttlebutt, at least that I can suss out: "Foxcatcher", "The Fifth Estate", "The Dallas Buyers Club" and "The Counselor" come to mind.

All in all, you'll see a definite effect on tomorrow's new "Ten Bets" list.  It's shaping up to be an incredible 40th anniversary festival.

Meanwhile, from the "A Guy Can Continue to Dream" Dept.  Here's this...


"The Counselor" had its second straight day of high profile P.R. as the Ridley Scott film dropped an official trailer.  Would love to see this on the Telluride program.

I have included posts from The Playlist, Rope of Silicon and FirstShowing

A note here...this two day blitz makes me wonder if "The Counselor" might be in line to be announced as the closing night selection for the New York Film Festival.


A couple of films I'm also not expecting to see in Telluride are David O. Russell's "American Hustle" and George Clooney's "The Monuments Men'.  I'd like to see them in T-ride but as I've reported here, "Monuments" is reportedly unready and I just haven't ever thought there was a big chance for "Hustle"  Nevertheless, both films have been among my "coming Attractions" for some time now.

Both of them releases official images yesterday.  I have linked Rope of Silicon and The Playlist below:


As expected the trailer for George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" came down the pipeline yesterday.  It is intriguing.  I have to say that I'd really like for the film to surprisingly show up in Telluride in three weeks.  Purportedly the film isn't ready but you know that Telluride has produced more than one surprise over the years.  Perhaps 2013 could be another example of that magic.


Earlier this week I proposed the "Unified Clooney Theory", a suggestion of the connective web between Clooney and many of his friends and a number of the films that have the potential to be a part of this year's Telluride program.  You can see that I've re-posted it above as a part of the "Best of the Week" segment.

Well...there's more.  Julia Roberts is another part of the UCT.  She's appeared with Clooney, Pitt and Damon in the Ocean films and will be getting a lot of notice in the Clooney produced "August: Osage County".  Many Oscar observers believe that she'll be a player in the awards conversation at the end of the year.

Tilda Swinton is another actress that is a part of the UCT and has a lively Telluride possibility or two.  Swinton appeared with Clooney in Michael Clayton and they were both tributed at Telluride the same year.  Swinton also has appeared with fellow UCT members Brad Pitt in "Benjamin Button" and both Clooney and Pitt in the Coen Brothers "Burn After Reading"  (Coens...more UCT!)

Swinton is set to appear in Terry Gilliam's "The Zero Theorem" (with UCT member Matt Damon) and Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive".  Both of those have some level of Telluride potential.

And we can't forget Cate Blanchett in this feminine examination of the Unified Clooney Theory.  Blanchett who is currently basking in breathless reviews for her performance in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" has had her moments in Clooney-land.  Blanchett is, of course, the female lead in Pitt's "Benjamin Button" and also plays the lead in the Steven Soderberg directed and Clooney  starrer "The Good German".  Blanchett has Clooney's "The Monuments Men" in the can (or nearly so) as well as co-starring as Pitt's wife in "Babel".  Blanchett also appeared in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" with Matt Damon.

Again, as with the male version of the UCT, the chances of all of these films playing and all of these women being in Telluride is very unlikely...actually, my guess is that Swinton and "only Lovers" is your best chance.  But, again, they're all possible at least to varying degrees.


We're still ironing out details but you can be sure that you have a personal invitation to the Third Guide to the Ride, Flow of the Show.  Tentative plans look like we'll be moving the soiree to Thursday (the opening day if the fest).  I expect to host again at The River Club (550 Depot St. in Telluride).  Time and duration are still being ironed out.  Keep an eye on the blog for more details as we get closer to Festival time.


For the second year Michael's Telluride Film Blog is putting together an array of Film Critics, blogger and Experts who have agreed to offer their ratings of the films that they see during the festival.  i'll be collating that information and passing it on to you.  

Among the fine film folk that have agreed to particiapate are :

Alex Billington/FirstShowing
Scott Feinberg/The Hollywood Reporter
Scott Foundas/Variety
Eric Kohn/IndieWire
Eugene Novikov/Film Blather
Kristopher Tapley/InContention-HitFix
Sasha Stone/Awards Daily

I have other invitations out and hopes that we'll have more players in this endeavor.


As I did last year, I want YOUR ratings too.  As we move through the festival in a few weeks, I'm inviting you to rank the films you see from 0 to 5 and email those ratings to me at either: or

It should be fun!


Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in Stephen Frears "Philomena".  dench is reportedly fantastic in this film about a woman looking for the son she surrendered fro adoption when she was young.  "Philomena" dropped a trailer yesterday.

Here it is:


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Have a great weekend...more on Monday...unless there's breaking news...

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