Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Usual Suspects TFF #41 Edition: Part One/A New Film to Consider/A Look at Herzog's Queen/Casting News from the Coens

Welcome to Tuesday...


Over the last week, I did my annual rundown of U.S. film distributors that have a had at least some semblance of a relationship with the Telluride Film Festival and attempted to bring a critical eye to the offerings of each of those companies in terms of what might make the grade for TFF #41.  Today, I shift the focus away from companies and onto individuals, primarily directors, but occasionally producers, writers and actors that have also appeared frequently at Telluride.  I call them "The Usual Suspects".  I have a list of around three dozen people that make the list.

It's also a list that fluctuates with the times.  Had I been writing this 35 years ago Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese would have probably made the list.  Not now, despite Coppola's return to Telluride last year.  For the purposes of this blog, I will sometimes re-add someone who has fallen off as you will see Peter Bogdanovich included later this week.

I won't be including all 35-36 because not all of the members of "The Usuals" have a film ready to play. Ultimately this year's list of "Suspects" numbers 14 who have a total of 16 films between them that are Telluride-possible.  I'll break it into three parts beginning with Part One today.

Let's start withe the most usual of the suspects which is Werner Herzog.  A Telluride without Herzog is a rare thing and the film maker almost always has some project that is ready for display.  This year is no different as Herzog's name is attached to two films that could, and I suspect will play at TFF #41,  Herzog directs "Queen of the Desert" which is reportedly ready and which Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells flat says is a lock for Telluride.  I agree.  It's #4 on last week's "Ten Bets" list.

In addition to "Queen" which stars Nicole Kidman, Herzog is also a producer of the Joshua Oppenheimer directed documentary "The Look of Silence" which is the sequel to "The Act of Killing" which played Telluride as well.  I'm a pretty firm believer that this film will make the 2014 T-ride lineup as well. Accordingly, I have "Look of Silence" listed at #10 on last week's "Ten Bets".

Another big time "Usual" is documentary film maker Ken Burns.  Burns and Herzog share insider status at Telluride.  Both are regarded as part of the T-ride hierarchy.  Burns is also almost always there and almost always has a project available to be programmed.  This year he has "The Roosevelts" ready...it's scheduled to run on PBS just days after the festival concludes.  Consequently, I have it listed at #6.  

Another quick note about Burns.  I made a big deal last year that I thought that Burns would aid in the programming of the Native American silent film "Daughter of the Dawn".  I thought that was going to happen for most of last year and I was wrong, of course.  But I wouldn't be shocked if the film didn't pop up at this year's festival.

Usual suspect #3 is Errol Morris.  Morris is working away on a couple of his own projects but is, like Herzog, a producer of Oppenheimer's "Look of Silence" giving that film an even higher likelihood of making the Telluride lineup.

Usual Suspect #4 is Alexander Payne.  No one (with the exception maybe of Jason Reitman) has made his way onto the list of "The Usual Suspects" more quickly than Payne has over the past few years.  Problem is that Payne doesn't have a strong candidate for inclusion this year.  Payne is listed as an executive producer of "Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter" which might get it some traction had it not played a bunch of festivals already including Sundance and Nantucket here in the U.S.

I suspect that Payne will be attending this year's fest in Telluride because he loves the festival.  It's also a better than even  bet that he programs a film which is not his own as he has done before. 

Perhaps, this year, Payne will simply be in support of companion Laura Dern.  Last I knew, they were still an item and Dern could easily be a "Telluride Twofer" this year as she appears in Jean Marc Vallee's "Wild" and Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes" both of which could play the festival.

That's today's "Usual Suspects".  Five more tomorrow.


Al Pacino as "Manglehorn" (photo via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere suggested yesterday that David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn" will play at Telluride.  The film stars Al Pacino as an Austin, TX. based ex-con who can't let go of his past.  Honestly, this film hasn't been on my Telluride radar in  any significant way up until now, but you have to take Wells pretty seriously.

Pacino previously was a guest at Telluride in 2000 with his very own "Chinese Coffee".

Here's the link to the Wells story:


And "Manglehorn's" IMDb page:


If it comes to pass, do I smell an Al Pacino tribute?


The Playlist, among others, posted the first official photo of Werner Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" which, as noted above, I fully expect to be included as a part of the TFF #41 program.

The film has been described as something like David Lean's classic "Lawrence of Arabia" and is based on the true story of Gertrude Bell with Nicole Kidman in that role.  

Above is the photo and here's the link to the The Playlist's accompanying story:


Not that it'll play Telluride, but who knows, "Inside Llewyn Davis" did...the Coen Brothers have apparently added another couple of layers to the cast of their next project "Hail Caesar!".  Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill were reported to have joined the cast by multiple sources over the weekend.  The film stars George Clooney and Josh Brolin and is said to be a satire of Hollywood's Golden Age.  Others in the cast include Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum.  IMDb lists the film as being in pre-production.

Here are a couple of casting stories from the weekend from The Hollywood Reporter and from The Playlist:

More on Wednesday.

Follow Michael's Telluride Film Blog on Twitter @Gort2

No comments: