Christopher Schiller provides quick film reviews from Telluride Film Festival, he calls TweeViews, starting with the films Ford v Ferrari, The Assistant, and Family Romance.
To share a sense of what it is like to attend the Telluride Film Festival, for the last several years I’ve been posting mini, first impression reviews on Twitter I have coined TweeViews. This year, I thought it might be interesting to combine several of these TweeViews into a piece here and expand on my thoughts about each film in turn.
This first batch are from the three films I saw on Friday, August 30, 2019 the first day of the festival. Although these three films are not the three films I had set out to see that day, you learn quite quickly when attending the fest to adapt really quickly to changes on the fly. It certainly helps that you can’t really ever make bad choices in what to see in Telluride.
It turns out that these first three shows fall into very different types of film. One was mainstream, one was definitely indie and the last can only be described as Herzog.
First up Ford v Ferrari from 20th Century Fox.
The two main leads do not sputter (okay, I’ll stop with the car puns.) Matt Damon’s portrayal of Carroll Shelby lives up to everything I’ve ever heard about the automotive genius legend. And Christian Bale’s performance as Shelby’s long time friend and hothead driver Ken Miles holds his own like a good set of tires on a curve (sorry, that one slipped out.) The rest of the supporting cast are just as polished and perfect for the effect making this a joy to watch.
All the other production elements, cinematography, editing and especially sound, are excellent and will likely pick up awards in a few months time. All in all this is a mainstream film that will be pleasing to every audience that comes out to see it.
Next, The Assistant from Cinereach.
Though Kitty Green has established herself with mostly documentary works, she has shown deft dramatic storytelling skill in this piece. Some have considered this a “Weinstein” film though, unfortunately the underlying problem the film addresses has many more examples than Harvey and is ingrained in many more industries than film. A political message film it may be, but, it doesn’t shout about it. It also doesn’t provide solutions. It quietly places the audience in the difficult situation and leaves them there to ferret out their own emotions and “what if’s”.
There is a large group of producers who have joined forces to bring this film to fruition, and it is heartening to see so many souls facing the industry problem head on and not blinking. If she can handle this difficult subject with such subtle finesse, I can’t wait to see Kitty Green’s next narrative venture.
Last is Family Romance, LLC from Film Constellation.
Just like the real-life business the film is based on, things are not what they seem with this one. My mind is still unraveling the intricacies Herzog was able to weave into a seemingly silly film premise. He is a master craftsman at the top of his game. Some may not see all the levels of this film and walk away puzzled. But I concur with what the man himself has said about this film, it is a film that is close to his heart and an expression of filmmaking that takes him back to his early days of how he approached film.
Although it appears nearly documentary in style, the entire film is articulated as a narrative and constructed. They achieved this with a very small crew, Werner Herzog being his own cameraman, and shot run and gun style without permits and capturing the moments and the surroundings as they lay. The characters are not the usual professional actors, rather often the real people who inspired the story playing versions of themselves.
He modestly says himself that any film student could have made this film. While he is correct in that the technique could be emulated by any filmmaker, only Herzog could have achieved the subtle, thought provoking depth of this film. My mind is still unraveling itself from the experience.
Well, that’s the end of day one. I wonder what the rest of the fest will hold. We’ll see...