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Telluride XL Day Three: Back to the Past

Thompson on Hollywood By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood September 1, 2013 at 2:42PM

I eat and run, as just up the street Buck Henry, in his guise as Guest Director Emeritus, is presenting Mike Hodges' 1974 "The Terminal Man," a prescient, mesmerizing thriller in which George Segal, a computer programmer, permits electrodes and computers to be surgically implanted in him in order to stop his violent seizures. But the procedure instead increases their frequency and Segal's destructive behavior. In his catalogue blurb, Henry cites "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Clockwork Orange," and "Fahrenheit 451."
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Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'

Monique gives a lively and amusing intro to "Poison," saying that "Guitry learned the rules only to break them -- my kind of guy!" His introduction of all the actors and craftsmen who worked on the film is delightful.  As is the movie, wherein Michel Simon (hard to forget that yesterday in "Natan" I learned that he was perhaps the world's largest collector of pornography) plots the murder of his wife with the unwitting help of one of France's most successful criminal lawyers, who he consults before the fact.  I do love Sacha Guitry.

Afterwards I rush off to Le Marmottan, one of Telluride's best restaurants, where I've been invited to dine with the directors and stars of the slate of Sony Classics' films in Telluride.  It will actually be the first real sit-down meal I've had in Telluride with the inaugural brunch now a distant memory.  A lovely young publicist quizzes me as to which of their movies I've seen, to figure out where to seat me.  No, I haven't seen "The Past," though I've seen Asghar Farhadi's other films and spent time with him at Telluride and Toronto; no, I haven't seen "The Lunchbox," though I fully intend to, either here or in Toronto (Its director, Ritesh Batra, is just rushing off to intro the film, between his first course of fish tacos and his second course); no, I haven't seen "The Invisible Woman," although I tried to, this afternoon. Her eyes glaze over.  I can tell that my day of Slow Food, Pudovkin, Claudel, and Guitry cuts no ice here.  I tease that I'm surprised that they scheduled the dinner up against the film that Michael Barker programmed himself, the obscure-to-me spaghetti western "Death Rides a Horse," with Lee Van Cleef and John Philip Law, playing right now in the Open Air Cinema  -- I'm too old to sit on the chilly lawn for two hours.  

But I'm the right age to sip a glass of excellent Barolo, just a few hours after watching Carlo Petrini form the Friends of Barolo, with a nice plate of foie gras, cruelly outlawed in my sappy home state of California, followed by a lovely rare chunk of King salmon set on a bed of fragile corn stew.  

I eat and run, as just up the street Buck Henry, in his guise as Guest Director Emeritus, is presenting Mike Hodges' 1974 "The Terminal Man," a prescient, mesmerizing thriller in which George Segal, a computer programmer, permits electrodes and computers to be surgically implanted in him in order to stop his violent seizures.  But the procedure instead increases their frequency and Segal's destructive behavior.  In his catalogue blurb, Henry cites "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Clockwork Orange," and "Fahrenheit 451."  In his intro to the film, he mentions some of Mike Hodges' other films, including the to-me-thoroughly-enjoyable "Flash Gordon" ("one word," Buck says, "Ornella Muti"), and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," which Buck says "features two wonderful things, Malcolm McDowell and male-on-male anal rape."  He neglects to mention one of my favorites, "Croupier," so I helpfully shout it out.

"The Terminal Man" features a Jeanne-Dielman-esque brain operation that feels like it's performed in real time, and a fascinating, quirky cast: in addition to Segal, Joan Hackett, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, James Sikking, and Michael C. Gwynne.  The audience eats it up, especially my seatmate Mark Cousins, who now feels fully equipped to perform neurosurgery.

In my attempt to be a real party girl, I accompany Mark and Buck around the corner to the Fox Searchlight party at the New Sheridan historic bar. The sneak preview of Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," shown in style with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in attendance, started a couple of hours ago. I chat with Gary Meyer, Todd McCarthy, Ruby Rich, and Telluride virgin Baz Bamigboye of The Daily Mail, knock back a Diet Coke -- oh yes, I go nuts. Caffeine after midnight! What a life.

This article is related to: Festivals, Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, 12 Years a Slave, Sony Pictures Classics


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