Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meryl as Maria?/Best of the Week: TFF 41 Directors Announced; The Guardian Guesses; The Judge Trailer; Birdman News; Ten Great TFF Films I Didn't See at TFF

Good Saturday to you...


Word was circulating late this week that Meryl Streep was likely onboard to play opera legend Maria Callas in a filmed adaptation of Terrence McNally's play Master Class.  The play used the conceit of a Callas training session for  a young, aspiring opera singer as a way of recounting the legend's life.  Mike Nichols is purportedly onboard to direct (which would be Meryl's third straight Broadway to film project: "August: Osage County" and the upcoming "Into the Woods").  Word is that it would be for HBO.

Check a couple of posts about the casting news here from The Playlist:

also from The Wrap:



                                 Guy Maddin Kim Morgan Telluride
Guy Maddin and Kim Morgan via Variety

From the TFF Press Release...

BERKELEY, CA – Telluride Film Festival, presented by National Film Preserve LTD., is thrilled to announce its 2014 Guest Directors, Guy Maddin and Kim Morgan. The husband and wife team is set to select a series of films to present at the 41st Telluride Film Festival running over Labor Day Weekend, August 29 – September 1, 2014. The Guest Director program is sponsored by
 Festival organizers annually select one of the world’s great film enthusiasts to join them in the creation of the Festival’s program lineup. The Guest Director serves as a key collaborator in the Festival’s programming decisions, bringing new ideas and overlooked films to Telluride. In keeping with Telluride Film Festival tradition, Maddin and Morgan’s film selections, along with the rest of the Telluride lineup will be kept secret and unveiled on Opening Day, August 29, 2014.
 “Guy and Kim have long been a part of Telluride,” said Telluride Film Festival executive director Julie Huntsinger. “There was no question that they were the perfect choice for this year’s Festival. Their energy, knowledge and enthusiasm is a winning combination – our audience will benefit from that when their selections are unveiled at the Festival!”
 Guy Maddin is an installation artist, writer and filmmaker, the director of ten feature-length movies, including My Winnipeg (2007), The Saddest Music in the World (2003), and innumerable shorts. He has also mounted around the world over seventy performances of his films featuring live elements – orchestra, sound effects, singing and narration.
 Twice he has won America's National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Experimental Film, with Archangel (1991) and The Heart of the World (2001). He has been bestowed many other awards, including the Telluride Silver Medallion in 1995, San Francisco International Film Festival’s Persistence of Vision Award in 2006, and an Emmy for his ballet film Dracula – Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002). Maddin is a print journalist and author of three books
Kim Morgan is a film, music and culture writer who has written for Salon, GQ, LA Weekly, Criterion, MSN Movies, Huffington Post, IFC, Entertainment Weekly, The Dissolve, Playboy, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Garage Magazine.
 Morgan has presented movies and moderated interviews for the Los Angeles Film Noir Festival and the Palm Springs Noir Festival. She has guest programmed for TCM and recently presented two films for Telluride Film Festival.
 Morgan has worked with Maddin on several occasions appearing in his short films, or “Hauntings” with Udo Kier. They collaborated together on the short, “Bing & Bela” and their upcoming series “Seances” will move to MOMA in 2014.
 “We are honored and thrilled to be guest directors at Telluride, by far the most concentrated, smartly curated, and enchanting of all the film festivals,” Guy Maddin and Kim Morgan commented jointly. “More than any other festival, Telluride is driven by the sheer love of cinema -- discovering new talents, honoring titans and unearthing neglected masterworks and geniuses. The opportunity to share our favorite films with Telluride and its always-discerning audience is not only exciting but an absorbing, wonderful challenge. There are so many movies we love, and to program a selection of six...  where to begin? We really wanted to show those masterpieces we felt hadn't been revived enough, if ever, and to see them as they were meant to be seen -- on the big screen. We can’t wait to watch!”
 Past Guest Directors include Caetano Veloso, Michael Ondaatje, Alexander Payne, Salman Rushdie, Peter Bogdanovich, B. Ruby Rich, Phillip Lopate, Errol Morris, Bertrand Tavernier, John Boorman, John Simon, Buck Henry, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, G. Cabrera Infante,Peter Sellars, Don DeLillo, J.P. Gorin, Edith Kramer and Slavoj Zizek.
 41st Festival passes are now available at

Here's a selection of coverage about the announcement:
The Los Angeles Times:
The Hollywood Reporter:
Awards Daily:
Movie City News:


On the scene of "Unbroken"

Britain's The Guardian published/posted a fall festival speculation piece yesterday focused on the triumvirate of Telluride, Venice and Toronto.  Naturally, when a real big time journalistic outfit attempts to read those tea leaves attention must be paid.  So, before I start to parse their predictions, here's the link to the post:

The Guardian predicts for Telluride:

Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken"...yes please...but I'm still very wary of the chances we'll have this play in T-ride.  Still, at least someone besides me thinks it's not an absolutely crazy notion that it could.

Noah Baumbach's "While We're Young".  I agree that if this film is ready, that there's a great chance that it plays on the TFF #41 program.

Todd Haynes "Carol".  My feeling is that this film could play Telluride but it's far from a certainty.

David Lipsky's "The End of the Tour".  Much like "Carol", I think this is possible, but it certainly isn't going to be on the first "Ten Bets" list next week.

Those are the only films that the piece marks as Telluride-likely.

Looking at their guesses for Venice, which usually shares three but last year shared six titles with Telluride...their picks all seem more likely to play Venice and skip Telluride...but you never know.  Among the films that The Guardian think will play Venice are Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice", Tim Burton's "Big Eyes" and Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight".

Their Toronto picks have some real resonance in terms of Toronto's ultimatum to premiere there rather than T-ride or be programmed in the middle of the week or on the second weekend.  The Toronto picks include:
real Telluride possibles like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman", J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" and Morten Tyldem's "The Imitation Game".  Also included are less likely T-ride titles such as David Fincher's "Gone Girl" and Rob Marshall's "Into the Woods".

Not mentioned anywhere: Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher".

The whole post is really interesting.  Click the link above.


Last week, I posted that about the Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall starrer "The Judge" which sort up popped up out of nowhere in terms pf Telluride consideration.  However, now that the possibility exists, I'm going to keep an eye on it, at least for awhile.  To that end, yesterday saw a blizzard of stories/posts to coincide with the release of a trailer.  Here it is from YouTube/

Here are links to a number of stories that ran with the trailer yesterday:

From Rope of Silicon:


The Hollywood Reporter:


The Playlist:

"The Judge" hits theaters Oct. 10.


via The Playlist

The Playlist also had a story up yesterday about the new Inarritu/Keaton collaboration "Birdman" with new photos AND some crazy speculation that the film might include an amazingly long tracking shot.  Check the story here:


I'm doing a quick little project in this week's posts.  I'm taking a quick look at ten great films that played at Telluride that I didn't actually didn't see there.  I didn't start going until 2006 so all of those films that they screened from the beginning fit the bill.  Then, of course, there are the films that I COULD have seen from '06 on, but for one reason or another, didn't until later.  This list is a mix of both.

In chronological order, here are the first two of ten great TFF films that I didn't see at TFF:


1986- David Lynch's "Blue Velvet".  Lynch's best film that both adheres to and parodies the "small town with big secrets" film.  Dennis Hopper was never better and the film laid the groundwork for Lynch's television masterpiece "Twin Peaks".


1994-"Ed Wood".  Tim Burton's best film with Johnny Depp in great form as the title character (creator of what are universally regarded as some of the worst films ever made) and Martin Landau delivery of a master class level performance as Bela Lugosi.

                                               Sling Blade (1996) Poster

From 1996: Billy Bob Thornton's: "Sling Blade".  Billy Bob writes the script (and won an Oscar for his efforts, directs and gives what is still probably his best performance in this film that introduced him to the film world.  John Ritter also is great in a real change of pace role for him.

                                                  The Straight Story (1999) Poster

From 1999: David Lynch's second film on this list: "The Straight Story".  Richard Farnsworth...who was always great, gives his best performance as Alvin Straight.  Alvin is determined to visit his semi-estranged an brother but is hampered by any number of circumstances.  Ultimately, Alvin takes off on his odyssey...using a modified riding lawn mower.  It's based on a true story.  As a side note: I love Harry Dean Stanton as the brother who shows up for a few moments at the end of the film.

Amélie (2001) Poster

From 2001, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Amelie".  I'm not usually a sucker for the kind of whimsy that this film embraces, but, man, if you're going to utilize whimsy in the service of story and that seems grounded in character...this is the film that pulls it off.  Audrey Tautou...wonderful.  (Also, shout out to Eric Bialas who would, it seems, also put "Amelie" on his version of this list).

Also form 2001 David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive".  Yes, Lynch made my list three times.  The first time I saw the film I was modestly impressed but it has gotten better every time I've seen it. "Mulholland" is a Lynchian take on the whole world of film making couched in a "murder mystery'.  To my mind, it's the best thing Naomi Watts has ever done.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) Poster

And, of course, from 2005, Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain".  Heath Ledger is just brilliant. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway...look and sound like they're acting...but Ledger's performance, by itself, lifts the film up and up. Michelle Williams' performance is nothing to sneeze at either.

Capote (2005) Poster
Another film from 2005: Bennett Miller's "Capote".  2005 was the year before my first foray into the Telluride Film Festival.  Wish I had been there.  "Capote" rightfully won Philip Seymour Hoffman the Oscar for Best Actor.  The film was also nominated for four other Academy Awards.  "Capote announced Miller's arrival in bold terms.  I came to it to see Hoffman's performance.  I stayed with it because it's just a really good film.  
The Lives of Others (2006) Poster

From 2006: "The Lives of Others".  This won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and remains one of the best foreign films I have ever seen.  Terrific work from the lead Ulrich Muhe, who plays an East German officer of the secret police, who finds that he may have a conscience.  It's haunting film making from director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck.

And 2009, Michael Haneke's masterpiece "The White Ribbon".  Haneke's brilliant black and white meditation on evil and how people can become what they become. It's still one of the most haunting things I've ever seen on a movie screen.

More on Monday...Have a great weekend everyone.

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