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2022 Telluride Film Festival Report –  A Long Mixed Bag - Day 2

For day two I ended up wandering through several venues and eventually seeing four films in the day. Now in the early hours of the next day I can try to put together a path through how it went for you.

As with every Telluride Film Festival, plans are constantly made, changed and eventually abandoned all together every day. But that’s a good thing. The things you can’t fit in lead you to discoveries you never would have seen otherwise. We developed a model for this year to follow that’s working well for my wife and I, “Pace yourself and go with the flow.” It’s working great for us so far.

For day two I ended up wandering through several venues and eventually seeing four films in the day. I could tell by the end of it I’d overwhelmed my poor brain and I hereby apologize to those I tried to talk to that evening and delivered entertaining but nonsensical responses at times. Now in the early hours of the next day I can try to put together a path through how it went for you.

First Film – One Fine Morning

One Fine Morning, Sony Pictures Classics

One Fine Morning, Sony Pictures Classics

For multiple reasons I’ve had Mia Hansen-Løve’s new film on my radar for some time so I made the early morning trek to go see it. It did not disappoint. She is an ever-evolving, complex yet subtle filmmaker, making personal yet approachable works of fiction. With this piece, she was inspired by the dichotomy of having two polar opposite emotional events happening simultaneously. Without speaking about the themes of the film directly she and her star choice, Léa Seydoux, melded their interpretations of the character to arrive at a complex and intricate human, more than either of them imagined going in. The resultant film is a wonderful exploration of that thought.

It is clear that Hansen-Løve’s interest in portraying observational, emotional cinema enriches the cinema landscape. Every film I have seen of hers is richer and more complex while remaining approachable and heartfelt. I can’t wait to see what she evolves into next.

Next film up, Living

Bill Nighy in Living

Bill Nighy in Living

The next film I saw is also released by Sony Pictures Classics (happy 30th anniversary, by the way) and was anticipated with just as much expectation, Living, the adaptation of the stellar Kurosawa film Ikiru but with reframing the characters into post-war British bureaucracy minions.

Bill Nighy’s performance is the linchpin on which the whole complex artifice hangs. His stellar performance of a bureaucrat discovering at the latest hour that his life was derailed at some point and wonders has he ever really lived. His portrayal of internal discovery and entrapment all play out across his stoic face. Riveting and definitely worthy of awards discussions. And he won’t be alone. Oliver Hermanus’s direction was masterful controlling all the little elements as well as large arcs that could have easily unbalanced this complex assembly. The script is perfect for its tellings and silences, as one would expect from the hand of Kazuo Ishiguro. And the entire production team throughout never shied away from the challenges of doing such a complex structured film just right. Everything was just perfect and distinct from the source material. Well worth seeking out and watching on the big screen.

Sneak Peek film, After Sun

I’m glad that TFF is getting back to adding unscheduled films in the mix of offerings, even though the print is still drying on the official schedule printings. It allows them to bring films that deserve to be here even up to the last moment. This is the case of the Cannes award winner sneak peek we got to see, After Sun.

It is a film that is definitely brilliant in its class. As I alluded to in my tweet, being a fresh style of filmmaking, the appreciation for the style hasn’t filtered down to the mainstream audience's expectations in the main. I hope it gets a broad enough distribution and careful handling to try to change those expectations so films like this can be appreciated for their groundbreaking qualities. I hope it does well enough.

Final film bummer, TÁR

It is a shame when all the elements for a potentially great collaboration somehow break down and the result isn’t as good as it could have been. For me, TÁR is one of these instances, sadly.

I think Todd Field’s not having made a film in 16 years may have been a contributing factor in the missteps. Films have changed a lot in that interim and you can see Field trying to keep attuned to those changes, but, the end result is unbalanced and off-key. Some scenes feel extremely stagey, using only a single camera, one-shot approach. This is where the choices diminished the impact of Cate Blanchett’s performance. Multiple times she was emoting with her back to the audience, acting to the back wall. I’m sure it was a fine portrayal, but, we’ll never be able to truly know.

And the story itself has flaws that were never addressed on film or in interviews so far that I’ve seen. A film whose central figure is clearly an antagonist but without any clear protagonist is troublesome to pull off in the best films. And the fact that the actual abuse caused by this character in every person whom she came into contact with is never acknowledged or dealt with in any way is troubling from a societal responsibility perspective.

Because of those involved, it will likely be in discussions as the festival season progresses. I just wish the film had been a better one. It should have been.

And with those films seen, I took my tired bleary eyes and went to have conversations with others where I hope I made a bit of sense, at least more than I remember having done at the time. Telluride is a very tiring festival. But I’m still going to pace myself and go with the flow. Wish me luck.

2022 Telluride Film Festival Report – Day 1

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