What makes the Telluride Film Festival so unique is the complete mishmash of the films being offered. They couldn’t be more different from each other but I often find common themes that run through many of the films tying them together in an unintended theme. Several themes are starting to appear from this year’s fest. Some have noted that many of the films have a loving father figure theme. There is also a break from convention theme that could be argued for. Today’s films were along the historical retelling theme. Some themes are strong and obvious even if unintended. Others are barely a whisper and you have to dig to find them before they slip through your fingers. Today’s was the latter.
The three films in my path through the Telluride Film Festival today were all based on real people and their real lives in the recent and not so recent past. But the commonalities end there. From a deeply personal story of his experience as a nine year old during a tumultuous time, to a historical figure’s attempts to rewrite his past, to an obscure, historical eccentric who happened to have an amazing affect on people and their appreciation for cats, these films couldn’t be more of a mixed bag.
Once again, I expound on my TweeView first impressions.
A deeply personal somewhat biographical story from Kenneth Branagh of a turbulent time in a nine-year-old’s life. The perspective of the child’s viewpoint was pivotal for the filmmakers leading to wonderful camera angles and almost innocent renditions of the harsher sides of life in Belfast in 1969. The fact it was shot during the first opening up of the industry during COVID added a strong familial vibe to the bubble around the set which amplified the “lockdown” feeling that was being shown on screen. You can tell that all involved were keen to show how special the connections to Belfast and the troubles and triumphs of Northern Ireland still rumbling to this day.
SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
I don’t want to leave the impression in any way that this was a bad film. No, it is a fine example of a large swath of a popular style of documentary filmmaking. My personal disappointment with the piece derives from my own conception that documentaries shouldn’t be just documenting history alone. I strive to find those films that get personal, go beyond just the telling of the tale but find unique ways of expressing those facts. I don’t mind seeing a bit of the person behind the camera’s own take on things, as long as it fairly and honestly done. A straightforward documentary like this one leaves me wondering who the person behind the lens really is.
THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN
Will Sharpe takes a style with this film that is as altogether quirky as its main character. From the choice of the smartass narrator through the wonderful color grading choices that blended real life with the swirling chaos living just outside Wain’s control to even the choice of square frame ratio Sharpe shows that though he does not have a huge resume as yet, his talent level has so much promise for the future.
It’s wonderful that the devastating life changes that Wain faced are allowed to impact the characters with room and time to fully hit and for the audience to react with the characters. The maladies we die from may have changed, but, the pain being portrayed onscreen is palpable. Cumberbatch says so much in his eyes in this film you know exactly where his mind is regardless of how manic or still his body.
We’ve drifted from the days when a character with disabilities would be a shoe-in for the awards voters, but, don’t count this eclectic film out. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this one steals a few. And that would make my cats happy. They’ve told me so.