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Telluride Update: Last Day

by Anne Thompson
September 7, 2009 4:34 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

I've been running around seeing movies, doing interviews, attending the terrific Viggo Mortensen tribute and going to various social events with filmmakers. IFC and SPC held back-to-back dinners Saturday night, while Sunday night the Steinbergs hosted their annual closing night bash.

Sunday is the closing brunch in the town park, where I'm conducting a panel called The Edge of Humor: Where Does the Laughter Start and Stop? The panelists should know: Nic Cage's performance as a drug-addicted out-of-control police lieutenant in Werner Herzog's remake of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, is one of his best: outrageous, over-the-top and hilarious. And you're rooting for him, no matter how far off the edge he goes, no mean feat.

Writer-director Alexander Payne (Oscar-winner with Jim Taylor of 2004's Sideways) was Telluride's guest director this year. His program included one of the festival favorites, Leo McCarey's 1937 tearjerker Make Way for Tomorrow and the 12-minute Caroll Ballard 1969 short The Perils of Priscilla, which Payne had seen as a UCLA student and wanted to see again. It's about a cat left behind. Payne contacted Ballard, who no longer had a print. So Payne posted a query on eBay, and some months ago, it turned up. Nobody else wanted it and he purchased a 16 mm print for six dollars. Audiences at Telluride adored it.

Also on the panel is American Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl), who plays a pivotal role in Jane Campion's Bright Star as poet John Keat's Scottish friend Mr. Brown, who fights the romance between Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne.

Writer-director Jason Reitman just finished Up in the Air; his follow-up to Juno expertly balances humor and emotion as Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) moves from a life of blissfully controlled isolation to starting to make real human contact.

Australian George Gittoes is a self-described "war artist" who puts himself in dangerous places around the world. In his third film, The Miscreants of Taliwood, the filmmaker took his cameras and one 23-year-old Pashtoon assistant into Islamabad and the Northwest frontier town of Peshawar. He documented the Taliban fundamentalists opposed to freedom of creative expression, at war with the West and with Peshawar's filmmaking center, Taliwood, which churns out popular entertainment. He even stars as a journalist villain in one of the films. This movie is terrifying--he's in real danger of getting killed--and it's also colorfully entertaining. Gittoes puts himself front and center, in more ways than one.

Here's a clip:

4 Comments

  • sherlock jr | September 8, 2009 8:50 AMReply

    Excerpts from the panels usually show up on the Telluride site www.telluridefilmfestival.org in Sept.

    If you look at the program on the site you'll see it is full of discoveries outweighing a couple of high profile titles. Films like THE WNDOW, SLEEP FURIOUSLY, GIGANTE, ROOM AND A HALF, JAZZ BARONESS, FARWELL, THE MISCREANTS OF TALIWOOD, RED RIDING several fine docs in the Backlot and a ton of rediscoveries of long lost classics

  • Tulkinghorn | September 8, 2009 2:28 AMReply

    Sounds boring...

    Anything strike your fancy other than self-evidently soon to become successful movies like a high gloss late-nineteenth century movie about rich Russians starring Helen Mirren, a George Clooney movie from the guy who made Juno, and Nicholas (or as it says here "Nic") Cage channeling a much more shocking performance by Harvey Keitel?

    The Australian seems good.

    Telluride was once, I'm told, about discovery. Seems more like reassurance and the Oscar race these days.

  • Jennifer | September 7, 2009 11:19 AMReply

    I so wish I could have seen your panel today but had to return to Denver - any way to catch a recording of the panel?? Cage's comedic timing and the way he can mix it with these eccentric and dark characters is so much fun to me - I love your description of this performance as being "outrageous, over-the-top and hilarious" - I thought the film was brilliant! I can't wait to see it again from a seat not directly under the screen!!

  • jl | September 7, 2009 6:35 AMReply

    Here's hoping that Nic Cage can redeem himself. He seems to have lost a bit of his funky edge over the years with all the National Treasure and Knowing nonsense.

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