Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Last Face" at Telluride?/The Usual Suspects: Part One/A Note from "Anonymous"

Good Tuesday Everyone!


Sean Penn and Charlize Theron on the set of "The Last Face" via The Daily Mail

I have mentioned Sean Penn's "The Last Face" as a Telluride possibility only fleetingly the past several months (I count five MTFB mentions since January) because I just haven't felt a T-ride vibe for it.  The lack of a U.S. distributor has had a lot to do with that.

That said, a David Poland piece about potential Oscar contenders posted at Movie City News last weekend got me to re-examining its possibilities.

Poland mentions the film as a way, way outside shot for some Oscar consideration and its the only film in the piece that he actually puts in a Telluride perspective.  Poland suggests that the film makers are hoping for a Telluride berth, in so many words.  Poland's exact line is, "after it is screened at TIFF (and they will hope, Telluride..."

Perhaps Poland knows something, or is just spitballing.  Nevertheless, this lead me to re-assess, at least to some degree.

Admittedly, under normal circumstances, I would have probably taken the film as a serious Telluride contender because it's the first directing effort from Penn since "Into the Wild" which played T-ride in 2007 and the story line sounds like the kind of film that might play well there (see the IMDb link below).

But...I have always thought that Penn had to have been displeased with the way that film was received.  It was thought to be a Best Picture/Best Director Oscar contender (and it was nominated for two Oscars, Supporting Actor for the great Hal Holbrook and film editing) but that didn't happen despite generally great critical response.

As I re-examined the film in light of the Poland mention, I discovered that Telluride regular Bill Pohlad is one of the films producers.  Pohlad has been a huge supporter of Telluride over the years (listed last year as a"major supporter in the fest's film guide) and has been a producer on a  significant number of films that have played Telluride over the years. Examples: "Brokeback Mountain ('05), "Fur" ('06), "Into the Wild ('07), "12 Years a Slave" ('13) and "Wild" ('14).  (So, Pohlad is really the first entrant in my "Usual Suspects" piece below)

So, Pohlad's participation and Poland's mention make me think that "The Last Face" might actually be a more serious consideration for Labor Day.

Still, I don't think it's a lead pipe cinch.  One reason, I'd love to know why Pohlad's own directing effort, the Brain Wilson biopic "Love and Mercy" which has been really well reviewed since its June release, did not play Telluride last year, but did play Toronto (in the midst of that "can't play Telluride first" controversy).

Bottom line, "The Last Face's Telluride chances are up, but it's not likely to be on this week's "Ten Bets" update on Friday.

Here's the David Poland piece from Movie City News;


"The Last Face" IMDb page:



Each summer for the past few years, I have analyzed a number of people that have become fixtures at Telluride as a way of trying to read the tea leaves fro what films might make the program.  These "Usual Suspects", as I call them, aren't always predictive, but sometimes, it leads to some good conclusions.

Last year, the "Ususal Suspects" posts predicted the presence of "The Look of Silence", "99 homes", "Wild", "Birdman", "Mr. Turner", "Two Days, One Night"and "Salt of the Earth".

As I mentioned above, the first "Usual Suspect" for this year, I suppose, is Bill Pohlad.

Next is the most usual of the "Usual Suspects", Werner Herzog.  Herzog is as regular to Telluride as anyone I can think of and is listed as one of their "Esteemed Council of Advisers".  Last year, I was dead certain his "Queen of the Desert" would play and it stayed in my Telluride calculus for a long time last summer (until Aug. 12).

Instead, "Queen" opened at the Berlin Fest in February to middling reviews.  It currently has no announced U.S. release date and its distributor, Atlas Distribution Company has no past Telluride relationship and is best known for distributing the "Atlas Shrugged" films.

Honestly, I've had this film in the lower levels of this year's "Ten Bets" lists, but, I honestly wouldn't be shocked if it DID NOT make the Telluride lineup.

Fear not T-ride Herzog fans.  The ever-busy Herzog has another trick up his sleeve.  "Salt and Fire" which stars Michael Shannon and Gael Garcia Bernal (and Herzog apparently as well) is listed as being in post-production at IMDb.  So maybe it gets a play at Telluride.  I have included an empireonline.com story about "Salt and Fire" here:


They describe the film as a "drama and romance".  IMDb lists it as a "thriller".

Doesn't sound like typical Telluride fare but I have a hard time believing that Herzog wouldn't have at least one of these films at Telluride.  After all, the fest played "Bad Lieutenant" and "My Son, My Son..." so...

Next on this first list of "Usual Suspects" for 2015 is Mark Cousins.  Cousins has been a frequent guest of the fest and is, like Herzog, a member of the"Esteemed Council of Advisers".  Cousins was not in Telluride last year but prior to that had appeared in previous years:

2010: The First Movie
2011: The Story of Film
2012: What is This Film Called Love?
2013: The Story of Children and Film

With that kind of track record, I have a feeling that Cousins could well be back in the Sn Juans in a few weeks with his latest documentary, "I am Belfast", which, as you might expect, takes an in depth look at the Northern Irish city.  "Belfast" may actually sneak onto this week's "Ten Bets" list.

Our final look at a "Usual Suspect" today is Jacques Audiard.  Audiard played Telluride to great success in 2009 with "A Prophet" and again in 2012 with "Rust and Bone".  Audiard first played Telluride in 1996 with "A Self-Made Hero".

His latest, "Dheepan", won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in May and is being domestically distributed by Sundance Selects.

I've had it in the top one or two spots on my "Ten Bets" list each time this summer and barring some weirdness, I suspect it's as good a bet as you could imagine without direct confirmation.

Chances of today's "Usual Suspects" and their films at TFF #42:

Pohlad's "The Last Face" 25%
Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" 60%
Herzog's "Salt and Fire" 40%
Cousins' "I Am Belfast" 60%
Audiard's "Dheepan" 90%

Tomorrow's "Usual Suspects; Part Two" will include: Laura Linney, Stephen Frears, Wim Wenders and The Dardennes Brothers.


I always enjoy, well...most of the time enjoy, comments and emails to the blog.  In the nearly seven years that I've been doing this, I have published all but a handful and the ones I haven't published have either been solicitations or just mean.  Otherwise, I publish.  Even the few that have, on occasion been a little uncomfortable.

I don't usually mention a comment in the text of a following blog, but this, from "Anonymous" seems particularly knowledgeable.  If you want to see the original it was a response to last Friday's (7/17) post (that contained my most recent "Ten Bets").  Here's the comment:

your blog is great. I would agree with you that 'Dheepan' and 'Son of Saul' are a lock at this point. I don't think 'Youth' is coming to Telluride though. What i've heard is that Searchlight is only bring the Malala documentary. Also Warner Brothers really believes in 'Black Mass' expect that to show up at Telluride and Toronto as well. Don't be surprised if the Weinstein co hangs onto 'Carol' until AFI Fest and doesn't show it in Telluride. Also something to consider is Focus is pushing two big films this year. 'Suffragette' and 
'The Danish Girl'. Don't be surprised if 'The Danish Girl' screens at Telluride instead of 'Suffragette', which i suspect is going straight to Tornto. That will depend on the talent and director and who is available. Telluride won't take the movie unless either the actors or the director is available as is the case for 'Youth'. Best of luck with your prognosticating

This also comes three weeks (6/26 post) after a previous "Anonymous"Balck  comment that also seems very smart about Telluride:

I totally agree with your assessment of 'Dheepan', 'Son of Saul', '45 Years', and 'Carol'. Telluride patrons are smart and generally an older crowd and so I think they curate the festival knowing this. I think there is going to be one big documentary premiere sneak like in years past with 'Salinger' and 'Tales of the Grimm Sleeper'. I think 'He Named Me Malala' is poised to be that big doc sneak and it is very much in line with Telluride patrons' sensibilities so I wouldn't rule that one out.

So the two "Anonymous" comments seem to agree on "Dheepan" and "Son of Saul", the "Malala" documentary and disagree on "Carol".

I am particularly intrigued by the "7/17 Anonymous" claim about "Black Mass' which would fit neatly into my theory that Warners is likely to return to Telluride with some film this year.  I am also intrigued by the "7/17 Anonymous" claim that "The Danish Girl" might be more of a Telluride possibility than "Suffragette".  You could certainly make that case as I could see Tom Hooper returning to Telluride in light of his 2010 success with "The King's Speech"

All in all...fun stuff to think about.

And a good place to remind any and all that comments/emails and such are always (well almost) welcome.

Email me at michael_speech@hotmail.com or mpgort@gamil.com
Tweet at me @Gort2 on Twitter
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That'll do for a Tuesday...more tomorrow...

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