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Fest Review Round-Up: Never Let Me Go, Tabloid, Somewhere

by Anne Thompson
September 3, 2010 8:30 AM
11 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

While the Venice Fest is on its fourth day, Telluride got under way Friday night with screenings of Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go, Errol Morris's latest doc Tabloid and Peter Weir's prisoner-of-war drama The Way Back, which fewer people instantly reviewed. @EugeneNovikov tweeted: "THE WAY BACK (B) I was rapt for the first half- Weir at his hypnotic best - then becomes a bit repetitive and mechanical (if still powerful)." UPDATE: Here's the NYT's A.O. Scott.

Never Let Me Go debuted at Telluride Friday night; writers filed a flurry of reviews immediately thereafter; here's Hitfix and In Contention. TOH's two Telluride correspondents, Meredith Brody and Tom Appelo, will weigh in Saturday. My Never Let Me Go review and the most recent trailer are below.

And here's Telluride attendee Todd McCarthy's review of Somewhere, which he was able to see as a member of the New York selection committee (they passed):

This junior league Antonioniesque study of dislocation and aimlessness is attractive but parched in the manner of its dominant Los Angeles setting, and it’s a toss-up as to whether the film is about vacuity or is simply vacuous itself.

And here's The Guardian and Time Out London.

Never Let Me Go is on my early list of 13 Oscar contenders (below). Much like James Ivory's Remains of the Day (nominated for eight Oscars), also adapted from a Kazuo Ishiguro novel, this languorously-paced, beautifully shot film is steeped in sadness. Set in the English countryside in an alternate 70s universe, the story is told from the cloistered point-of-view of three innocents raised in what turns out to be an exceptional boarding school/orphanage where they are treated kindly and educated well. They eventually learn the terrible truth of their existence [SPOILER ALERT]: they are clones, raised for the sole purpose of providing one organ after another until they die. These are lovely young people, inexperienced in the ways of the world, full of hopes, feelings and emotions, who yearn for things they cannot have and see their all-too-short futures swiftly advancing upon them.

Romanek (24 Hour Photo) and writer Alex Garland (Danny Boyle's Sunshine and 28 Days Later) have created a believably off-kilter "what-if" world that is vaguely familiar but not exactly what once was. Romanek's three key actors, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, form a heartbreaking love triangle. Every time I think about this movie, their sweet expectant hopeful sad faces come back to me. They are resigned to their fate but keep hoping for a way out. I cried buckets at this film, which starts out slow and limited in its purview; slowly but surely, Romanek opens the frame so that more information comes into focus. Like Children of Men, this film is science-fiction that tells us a lot about who we are by showing us something that could be.

In other words, get out your handkerchiefs.

Oscar Early List:
127 Hours
Black Swan
Inception
Inside Job
The Kids Are all Right
The King’s Speech
Love and Other Drugs
Never Let Me Go
The Social Network
The Tempest
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Never Let Me Go trailer:

11 Comments

  • Joe R | September 6, 2010 3:18 AMReply

    Cry? The only tears to shed with Never Let Me Go are for happiness when it's over. What an empty, aesthetically dull snoozer. Another good book adapted into a crummy movie.

  • Koto | September 6, 2010 3:07 AMReply

    Anne,thank you for the comment on TWB and I just wish you had a chance to see the movie.I think you are so right.It's really unfortunate that TWB couldn’t get decent distributor.I hope Newmarket will give movie a Oscar run.Or I just hope TWB will find another distributor,if it's possible.(As a Sturgess fan,I'd like to say,"50 Dead Men Walking",new film "Heartless" and TWB are the proofs how talented he is.I really hope TWB will be seen by many people in the near future)

  • Bob Hawk | September 5, 2010 9:48 AMReply

    Without mentioning any specific titles -- isn't it great that there are so many candidates to choose from this year! There are easily more than ten films that are worthy of noms for Best Picture. And some of the acting categories are going to be fiercely competitive just to get nommed. AND there's so much that hasn't been seen yet. I'd say this is potentially the richest year in years, even if -- as Anne Thompson rightly points out -- some films' box office performance might (sadly) preclude them as viable contenders.

  • Bob Hawk | September 5, 2010 9:04 AMReply

    Hoping that the excellent ANIMAL KINGDOM has a dark-horse chance of being one of the ten. It, WINTER'S BONE and BLUE VALENTINE were my three fave dramatic features at Sundance. (Favorite dramedy: THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.) All have held strong, into early Sept., on my early-ten list. And now the deluge . . .

  • Anne Thompson | September 5, 2010 4:18 AMReply

    True Grit isn't finished yet, doesn't come out til christmas. I too admire Animal Kingdom but it may be too small and genre for the Academy--unless the critics' champion it enough to get supporting actress Jacki Weaver into contention; SPC could pull that out.

    The fact that Newmarket is releasing The Way Back, which played Telluride but could have used a full court press with the fall fests, is concerning to me. Unless Newmarket and National Geographic push hard for this, it will not happen.

  • Koto | September 5, 2010 3:32 AMReply

    Kris Tapley gave "The Way Back" 4 star.And A・C Scott of New York times also applauds TWB. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/confronting-the-power-of-the-natural-world-at-telluride/

    In additon,some reader of Hollywood Eleswhere raves the film anyway.

    "HE reader Terry Woods calls it "a hugely harrowing experience. The first half is better than the second half, which covers more of the journey the escaped prisoners make, but the film is never less than totally absorbing. I'll go so far as to say the first half is the best work that Weir has ever done in my opinion, and the second half is still better than most Hollywood product churned out today.

    "Jim Sturgess is excellent here. I haven't been a huge fan before but there's a scene near the beginning where Sturgess doesn't utter a word but says everything with his eyes -- it took my breath away."
    http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2010/09/harrowing_moral.php

  • Gene | September 5, 2010 2:32 AMReply

    good list, though i'd be taking off The Tempest for Blue Valentine. Also can't really see Inside Job getting a best pic nom. Doco, for sure though.

  • Anne Thompson | September 4, 2010 12:24 PMReply

    Somehow in alphabetizing the list of 13 I sent to David Poland for Gurus '0 Gold, Winter's Bone got left off. It's on there. Thanks for the catch.

  • LearnFilmOnline | September 4, 2010 10:28 AMReply

    Need to check this one out.

  • Brian Whisenant | September 4, 2010 10:27 AMReply

    Really like your Oscar Early List...surprised you left off Winter's Bone.

    Lisa...True Grit isn't quite finished...don't think anyone's really going to see it before its release.

  • Lisa | September 4, 2010 6:31 AMReply

    Have you seen True Grit? Haven't seen much about that film yet.

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