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.
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:
The Kids Are all Right
The King’s Speech
Love and Other Drugs
Never Let Me Go
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Never Let Me Go trailer: