Telluride Review: Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours

Two years ago, Danny Boyle came to Telluride to give the surprise premiere of Slumdog Millionaire, a movie which was almost doomed to be a direct-to-dvd but was saved by Fox Searchlight at the last minute. The film played to a standing ovation, and as you know, went on to critical acclaim and Academy Award wins. So it isn’t much of a surprise that Boyle decided to come back to Telluride to premiere his follow-up, 127 Hours, a big screen adaptation of of the New York Times bestselling book Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The film is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a engineer/ mountain climber who amputated his own arm to free himself after being trapped by a boulder for nearly five days.

Many of you probably know Boyle as the English director behind  Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire. His stylized character-centric films have won him many awards including “Best Director” at the 2009 Academy Awards. As you may expect, Boyle doesn’t take a realistic doc-style approach to the filming of this story, but instead injects it with energy and life while retaining the authenticity of the experience.

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Telluride Review: Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go

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A lot of you probably might not recognize Mark Romanek‘s name, but you’ve almost certainly seen his work. He was probably one of the best music video directors to come out of the 1990′s. His videos have included Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”, “Scream” – Michael Jackson’s grammy award winning collaboration with sister Janet Jackson (at $7 million, it might forever hold the title as the most expensive music video ever made), Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til It’s Gone”, Johnny Cash’s gut-wrenching cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind”, Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut”, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”.

His 2002 feature film One Hour Photo is probably best known for Robin Williams’ dramatic turn. While the film is beloved by cinephiles, it pretty much went under the radar of mainstream audiences. It did however gain Romanek a lot of the respect in the movie industry. His follow-up, a big screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel Never Let Me Go, premiered at the 37th Telluride Film Festival. The book was named one of TIME’s 100 Best Novels (from 1923 to the Present), featured on many top ten books of 2005 lists, and a finalist in the National Book Critic Circle Award.

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Every September, a small rustic mountain ski town in Colorado becomes host to one of the most elite film festivals in North America — The Telluride Film Festival.

My friend Alex Billington of FirstShowing has a theory that most of the good film festivals are hard to get to. Alex’s theory is that to see the good films first, you really need to work for it. To attend Sundance, you need to fly into Salt Lake City and drive an hour into the Park City. To attend the Cannes Film Festival, you have to fly into Paris and take a six hour train ride into Cannes.

Unless you take the expensive plane that Hollywood studio types charter directly into the small small airport in Montrose and take a one hour shuttle into Telluride, then you’re flying into Denver, taking a very small plane into a very small airport in Durango (this is the type of airport where if you show up less than 30 minutes before your flight, there is a hand written note on the counter telling you that the desk attendant is busy loading the bags into the plane.). And from Durango, it’s still a two hour drive into Telluride. Even then, you’re probably not staying downtown — it’s too expensive. The three years I’ve attended Telluride, I’ve stayed in a more affordable ski hotel over the mountain, which means we have to take a 15 minute gondola ride into the city each morning and night.
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Telluride Film Festival Announces 2010 Line-up

One of the many things that makes the Telluride Film Festival more interesting than most other film festivals is that it doesn’t announce the line-up until 24 hours before the film festival begins. And even then the festival usually packs a few unannounced surprise premieres. This year’s line-up is kind of a let down. A large portion of the 24 feature films were selected from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which was filled with disappointment. The Cannes selections include Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful (which I did like quite a bit), Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men, Charles Ferguson’s documentary Inside Job,  Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe and the 11-language six-hour biopic of legendary terrorist Carlos.

The high profile premieres of the fest seem to be Peter Weir’s war drama The Way Back, and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, which I’m very excited about. The documentary titles seem to be more impressive than the features — aside from the previously mentioned Inside Job, the doc line-up includes Errol Morris’ Tabloid,, Martin Scorsese’s A Letter to Elia, Werner Herzog’s Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning, a four-hour “sequel” to the 1994 PBS series Baseball.

But everyone is talking about the films not included on the schedule. Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan were both rumored to be at the festival, but weren’t part of the announced line-up. They could, of course, be screened as some of the surprise selections at this year’s fest. We do know that Danny Boyle is scheduled to be in town to present a screening of his family film Millions. Could this just be a bait-and-switch for 127 Hours? It’s very possible. Filmmakers like Sofia Coppola and David Fincher who have premiered movies/footage in previous years are not included in the line-up, despite having applicable films to promote (Somewhere and The Social Network).

I will be in Telluride for the festival, so check back Friday-Monday to see my video blogs and reviews. See the full line-up after the jump.
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Movie Poster: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan

Earlier today, Fox Searchlight released the movie trailer for Darren Aronofsky‘s next film Black Swan. If you haven’t yet watched the trailer, please do so now or we can no longer be friends. Searchlight has since released an official movie poster for the film. Nothing surprising, the one sheet uses the same image of Natalie Portman in crazy make-up we’ve seen previously. Hit the jump to see it for yourself.

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Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino has led the jury at Cannes, in 2004, but his experience at the Venice Film Festival has been limited to programming a couple of sidebars in ’04 and ’07. That changes this year, as the fest has named Tarantino head of the 2010 competition jury for the festival which will run from September 1-11. So what films is he likely to be judging? Read More »

Jason Reitman

While at the Telluride Film Festival, I had the chance to talk to Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman about his new, and much buzzed about film, Up in the Air. I conducted the interview in conjunction with my friend Alex from FirstShowing, filmed “up in the air,” (get it?) in a gondola traveling up and down the mountains of Telluride Colorado. This is probably the most unique interview I’ve ever been apart of, and it turned out pretty well. It’s a definite must watch, even if you haven’t seen the film (no spoilers are discussed). Watch the interview now embedded after the jump.
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Fish Tank Movie Trailer

fish tank quadOne of the things I really love about my film festival trips is that I get to discover some great small indie gems to share with you guys. Films that probably wouldn’t otherwise get exposure on a mainstream film blog like /Film. The film which most fits that bill from this year’s Telluride Film Festival is a coming of age movie titled Fish Tank. The film is from Academy Award-winning short film writer and director Andrea Arnold, who won the 2006 Cannes Jury Prize with Red Road. Here is the official plot synopsis for Fish Tank:

In Fish Tank (which is not about Fish or tanks for that matter), 15 year old Mia’s life is turned on its head when her mom brings home a new boyfriend. Arnold casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Following his acclaimed central performance in Hunger, Michael Fassbender (300, Inglourious Basterds) stars opposite talented newcomer Katie Jarvis. Rounding out the principal cast are BAFTA-nominated Kierston Wareing (Ken Loach’s It’s a Free World), Harry Treadaway (Control, Brothers of the Head) and 12 year old Rebecca Griffiths making her film debut.

The film is an outstanding character piece with powerful performances, more than anything else — which is to say that if you require a story with big plot points, this may not be your thing. It’s a coming of age story with a strong female protagonist, something you don’t often see in Hollywood now-a-days. The film hits theaters in the UK on September 11th 2009, but IFC has yet to announce details about the U.S. release. You can watch the trailer embedded after the jump.
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