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Thompson on Hollywood

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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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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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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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

Weekly Oscar-Talk Podcast Debut

Weekly Oscar-Talk Podcast Debut
I am happy to announce the debut of a weekly Friday kudo-podcast with In Contention's Kris Tapley. Here's the first Oscar Talk. We discuss the awards hopefuls so far and likely contenders coming out of upcoming fests; Meryl Streep’s remarkable emergence as a 60-year-old movie star; how the ten best picture slots could effect the Oscar race; new indie distribs Overture, Summit and Apparition; changing trends in Oscar campaigns; Paramount pushing Shutter Island to 2010; how Avatar Day went; and a Toronto preview.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 28, 2009 6:22 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Post-Fest Lament: Directors Missing in Action

There's something missing from our American movies. After watching a mess of films in Telluride, Toronto and New York, I realized I was seeing great foreign films and mediocre American ones. What's the missing ingredient? Many of our great directors. Where's Lawrence Kasdan, Jim McBride, Bob Rafelson, Robert Towne, Joe Dante, Walter Hill, William Friedkin, Phil Kaufman? These directors should all be working at the top of their game.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 8, 2008 12:27 PM
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Toronto Watch: Learning from Cannes, Venice and Telluride

Heading to Toronto, movies are seeking a fall media platform, or Oscar credibility, or a distributor, or both. The Toronto Star polled attending media on their best picks. There's plenty of info out there to help make choices among the hundreds of pics on display, especially from the key fests Cannes, Venice and Telluride. Here's a Guide.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2008 7:28 AM
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Telluride Watch 3: Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, and Awards Buzz

One of the tricks of the fall film fest trade is to launch a few movies that will gain awards season traction. Telluride has often done well picking some of these pics in advance, such as Brokeback Mountain, Walk the Line and last year's Juno. So given this year's short supply of completed specialty division fare, as many distribs have opted to take the late-year approach to chasing Oscar, Telluride dug up its own indie and foreign gems to help them get some attention.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 1, 2008 6:25 AM
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