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Telluride Brody Diary 3: Polley's Stunning 'Stories We Tell,' 'Joan of Arc,' 'Frances Ha' & More

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood September 3, 2012 at 12:43PM

Almost too rich a Telluride day – it’s after 2 a.m., I’m back in my room, slightly tipsy from a couple of iced glasses of one of Alice Waters’ favorite wines, the Bandol Tempier rosé, mind vibrating like a temple gong from the five programs I managed to fit in today...
Great Gerwig in "Frances Ha."
Great Gerwig in "Frances Ha."

With the kind permission of Steve Ujlaki, dean of the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, I was able to join his table for dinner at Rustico at 6, down a lovely plate of veal with mushrooms, and still make Serge Bromberg’s 7:15 “Retour du Flamme,” an eclectic program of film rarities which Bromberg accompanies with snappy French-accented patter and piano-playing, supplemented by Donald Sosin while Bromberg narrated Melies’ hand-tinted “Kingdom of Fairies,” which is the film you see him shooting in Scorsese’s “Hugo Cabret.”

Afterwards I stuck around for the 10 p.m. showing of “Frances Ha,” briefly introduced by Noah Baumbach, co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig, and Mickey Sumner, according to the catalogue, although she looked nothing like the character she played in the movie – prettier and blonder. IMDB tells me she’s the daughter of Sting and Trudy Styler. I’m a fan of most of Baumbach’s previous work, it’s dependably literary and has a nice New York sensibility, but this one, alas, felt determinedly quirky and a trifle twee to me.  Frances’ leap from self-destructiveness to self-actualization seemed to have skipped several beats somewhere inbetween. I couldn’t help but think of Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” because of the similar locations, ages, fecklessness, relentlessly casual hooking-up, perplexing quick marriage, and the coincidental casting of Adam Driver, playing an artist in both instances. (I will point out that I saw “Frances Ha” in the company of three women of wildly varying ages, and they all liked it quite a bit more than I did – one of them loved it.)

It took me a while to find Alice Waters’ rented house, tucked away at the top of a steep street, but inside I find great wine, charcuterie, cheese, bread, chocolate, and refugees from the festival’s starriest party, to which I hadn’t been invited. Mark Cousins, who had changed his original plan for the day when I told him I was going to see “The Marvelous Life of Joan of Arc,” said he liked it more than the Dreyer, which shocked me to the core. He said that a woman had stopped him in the street and asked him what was under his kilt, and when he told her “Nothing,” shocked him by asking if she could see. I said “You ought to have told her to buy a ticket to your film.” 

I told Alexander Payne I was sad that they hadn’t scheduled an additional screening of the 1965 Italia film “I Knew Her Well” that he’d introduced night before last, which already seems so long ago, and he told me that Criterion had picked it up (but I don’t want to wait!  And I want to see it on the big screen!). And maybe he was pulling my leg, but he said something about it being scheduled at some cinematheque in his home state of Nebraska, where he lives part-time.

Tom Luddy arrived in a dazzling Russian constructivist cashmere sweater, which his wife, stylist Monique Montgomery, had found at the Alameda Flea Market.  He was thrilled that Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida had so enjoyed their first visit to Telluride that they’d become lifers, already looking forward to subsequent visits, as, it seemed, was guest director Geoff Dyer. His only disappointment in a jam-packed weekend, he told me as we walked down the hill together, was that he didn’t understand why his two screenings of Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” weren’t SRO. I said that both were up against over a dozen other alluring possibilities, and that many people wanted to see big hot new movies, as opposed to an over-thirty-year old 2-hour-and-40-minute epic by a director dead for over a quarter of a century.

I left Dyer at the door of his hotel. I’d be seeing him in less than eight hours, anyway, at a screening he’d programmed of an obscure British film (I’d never heard of it, anyway) called “Unrelated,” a first feature by Joanna Hogg. Time to get some sleep so I wouldn’t fall prey again to the dreaded nodding-head-syndrome.

This article is related to: Telluride Film Festival, Festivals, Festivals, Telluride, Frances Ha, Stories We Tell

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.