Christopher Schiller continues his film reviews from Telluride Film Festival with his insights on Judy and Motherless Brooklyn.
Continuing to share the experience of the Telluride Film Festival vicariously here are today’s TweeViews expounded upon and a taste of the other offerings I sampled in my trek among the mountains.
One of the realizations you come to when attending Telluride is that all plans, no matter how well designed, must fall by the wayside for unexpected reasons. This is a good thing. I cannot count the number of times I had planned to see one movie or event but was either shut out or otherwise stymied only to discover a hidden gem that was well off my radar but was playing in my suddenly discovered free time. Lesson: go with the flow and be rewarded.
So it was with my first film of the day, one I hadn’t high on my list of things to see. Lucky for me my plans were changed.
Judy from Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment, in theaters September 27, 2019.
Renée Zellweger described the process they used to create the film as a series of experiments, “just to see how it might work.” She never really thought they had started working, but eventually they’d experimented enough to have a full movie. Unfortunately, that process still shows in the final result. The piece at times feels disconnected, as a bunch of parts or half formed ideas, well executed, but not part of a thought out, cohesive whole.
If it weren’t for Zellweger’s incredibly moving, emotionally raw embodiment body and soul into the dazzling yet deeply flawed emotional diamond we know as Judy Garland, the movie would come and go quickly when it reaches the theaters. But that’s not how the show goes. Zellweger will be high up in the awards discussions for months, and there are pieces of this film that shine quite well in her support.
It is almost fitting that a movie about a troubled and flawed star who rarely let you down when it was time to deliver the goods, is served by a film of the same nature.
Every film festival should have a few special things that are unique offerings you can’t find anywhere else. Telluride has a number of them but one of my absolute favorites over the years has been what they call the “Conversations.” I’ve not kept it a secret about my love of the format they’ve developed over the years. An intimate setting emulating a dinner party where unstructured conversations naturally break out. Put two or so filmmaking guests together and let whatever conversation ensue. I try to attend one a year and enjoy every one immensely.
This year was a special treat for my editing geeky side. The iconic editor and sound editor Walter Murch sat down with Glenn Kiser of Dolby Laboratories to ostensibly speak about sound in film. What followed was a wonderful discourse on the history of sound in film and the efforts of trying to recover some of the earliest attempts of syncing sound. Murch is a humble world treasure with an expansive knowledge of the craft. The post-production geek in me was thrilled to listen. I even piped up with a question about one of my favorite post processes, dialog editing. I was in heaven.
This year the festival has passed the mantle of control over the Conversations to a new person. I hope and pray that they maintain the integrity and simplicity of the original concept going forward.
Last Film of the day Motherless Brooklyn from Warner Brothers Pictures.
As only someone exercising a 30+ year love/hate relationship with the town he calls home, Norton tries to shine an unfiltered light on that dark era, warts and all, that was set up by Jonathan Lethem’s original novel. But the characters are a tad too cliché and Norton is just too nice a guy in real life not to smooth out the roughest of edges demanded by a true film noir. What’s left is a pleasant picture with fine performances by a to-die-for cast. But the film doesn’t rise to a challenging level so won’t ruffle feathers or turn heads.
Norton has talent, but, was stymied by budget and his own demons on this one. Still, there is enough good stuff delivered and visible potential that I look forward to his next directorial venture.
End of the night.
And then I was invited to a dinner hosted by Sony Pictures Classics, so expect reviews of their wonderful films in the near future. Until tomorrow...