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Thompson on Hollywood

Telluride Watch: Up in the Air Will Fly

Telluride Watch: Up in the Air Will Fly
Folks lined up for two hours on a rainy Telluride Saturday to get into Up in the Air. Hundreds were turned away. Writer-director Jason Reitman (and obsessive airline mile collector) played the crowd like a pro, hoping that the movie would live up to their expectations. He didn't need to worry. The director, who debuted Juno here two years ago at the same theater, delivers a winner. Loosely based on Walter Kirn's novel, Reitman's updated movie, which he started working on six years ago, has become, with the economic downturn, far more timely. It's a witty, charming and moving exploration of a world we all recognize.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 6, 2009 4:25 AM
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  • 2 Comments

The Last Station Brings Tolstoy Family to Telluride

The Last Station Brings Tolstoy Family to Telluride
The Last Station is a straight-on period biopic starring Christopher Plummer as the aged Leo Tolstoy, the famed Russian author of War and Peace, constantly at war with his mercurial wife Sophya (Helen Mirren). Paul Giamatti, a scheming Tolstoy disciple, wants to share the author's copyrights with the masses, while Sophya fights for her husband's love and her children's inheritance. Caught in the middle is Tolstoy's loyal, vegetarian, celibate secretary (James McAvoy). Plummer and Mirren are equally matched blazing adversaries and McAvoy is wonderfully reactive as the virginal acolyte who not only loses his innocence, but starts to learn about love and marriage.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 5, 2009 9:20 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Telluride: Red Riding, The Last Station

The first day of Telluride screenings kicked off Friday with IFC's North American debut of Brit TV's Red Riding trilogy, produced by Andrew Eaton and directed by Juian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker. I screened Red Riding: 1974, the first installment of Tony Grisoni's adaptation of four novels by David Peace. Cocky young journalist/womanizer (Andrew Garfield) faces his own Chinatown in Yorkshire as he investigates a possible serial killer/rapist. Garfield (Boy A) is strong as a guy with a good heart who can't catch a break. The always impressive Rebecca Hall plays the femme fatale Faye Dunaway role and Sean Bean is the reporter's nemesis, a real estate thug. This noirish tale never lets up as it digs darker and deeper and nastier than you'd ever expect. I look forward to parts 2 and 3, as the Yorkshire story continues into 1980 and 1983. (Here's Todd McCarthy's rave review.) Red Riding is not playing Toronto.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 5, 2009 6:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Festival Updates

Several Telluride titles are debuting in Venice, from John Hillcoat's The Road (which has a new poster and clips online) to Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime and Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nic Cage.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 5, 2009 1:16 AM
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More: Festivals

Telluride Program Notes

As I stood in line to board the charter from LAX to Telluride Thursday morning, a young man and an older woman, complete strangers, were comparing notes on how much they love to plot their weekend strategy when they get the program on the plane. The guy was meeting his family, as they've done for seven years, and the woman has been attending for 15 years. "It's like a military campaign," the guy said, "2 PM at the Galaxy, then 5 at the Palm..."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 4, 2009 12:22 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Telluride Day One: The Road, Waking Sleeping Beauty

Telluride Day One: The Road, Waking Sleeping Beauty
At LAX this morning I chatted with indie press agent Laura Kim and ex-Disney exec Peter Schneider, who produced Don Hahn's documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty. The doc tells the story of how Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and the 80s generation of Disney animators woke up the sleeping Disney animation giant between 1984 and 1994. Schneider, who has been working on Broadway, showed the film to ex-Disney chairman Michael Eisner, who isn't a fan. The current Disney management--Bob Iger and Dick Cook--are supportive of the movie, however. In fact, Leonard Maltin told me on the shuttle through the splendid Rockies this afternoon, Cook has been supportive of a number of Disney animation docs that needed help with clips, cooperation, and even release, from Frank and Ollie to Walt & El Grupo, about a Disney excursion to Latin America. It's in Disney's interest to keep fanning the old Walt flame.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2009 12:12 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Pre-Toronto Gurus 'O Gold

The old Gurus 'O Gold gang is back, 16 strong. We first selected 15 top contenders, given that the Academy voters will be choosing ten this year. It's all meaningless really, until more of them have been seen. You're just voting on track record and elements. Telluride and Toronto will start to tell that tale. Whether or not a studio will even attempt to launch a serious campaign will be determined by the fest reaction. Awards marketing budgets are tight this year.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2009 5:53 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Telluride Bound

Thursday morning I'll greet the charter shuttle folks at LAX as we head for the Rocky Mountains for the Labor Day Weekend four-day film rituals at Telluride. We're not supposed to know what the films are in advance (this is how the fest gets away with unannounced debuts) but there will likely be some Cannes holdovers (White Ribbon, Bright Star, A Prophet), some new entries (Bad Lieutenant, The Road, Life During Wartime, Up in the Air) and as always, a strong selection of rare classics, smart panels and tributes. This year the 36th fest will sing the praises of the late critic Manny Farber with a critics' panel and showing one of his fave films, and Alexander Payne serves as guest director, underwritten by a $50,000 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2009 3:56 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Festival Season: Feast and Famine, Ten Hot Toronto Pick-Ups

Festival Season: Feast and Famine, Ten Hot Toronto Pick-Ups
Going into the fall festival season in Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York, we know the following:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 1, 2009 10:07 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Weekend Fires, Festival Watch, New Moon Pics, Battsek Talks

Weekend News:Two Los Angeles County firemen were killed in a vehicle crash as they fought the Station fire near Acton after a long weekend battling fierce blazes in the Angeles National Forest brought on by hot, dry Southland weather. The Mt. Wilson tower-cam continued recording Sunday as wildfires threatened the mountain's radio and TV towers. Thousands of area residents were evacuated and sought shelter at local schools as their homes were endangered.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 31, 2009 6:12 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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