Rating 'Telluride at Dartmouth'
The Telluride Film Festival 2016 is now history. The venues are returning to their normal life as school gyms, hockey rinks and Mason's halls. The stars have moved on to Toronto and the morning talk shows, trading t-shirts and jeans for designer gowns and tuxes. And we obsessive film fans can take a breather -- until this weekend when it is time to go to the movies again!
One of the big follow-ups to TFF is always 'Telluride at Dartmouth'. A wonderful remnant of the time that Dartmouth's own Bill and Stella Pence were the co-directors of TFF, the program brings six of the key films from the Festival to Dartmouth to be shown across two weeks beginning September 16. This is an exceptional opportunity for those of us who live in the Upper Valley to get an advance look at some of the films that will figure heavily in the awards season; as well as a chance to see some exceptional small films that may never make it into theaters.
I was able to see five of the six films in T@D, and my more detailed comments on those films can be found in my four postings from TFF here in 'Movie Musings'. I won't repeat them, but rather will give you my recommendations in three categories: 'Must See'; 'If Personally Interested'; and 'Don't Bother' (unless you are a true cinefile). Here we go:
"Maudie': My personal 'Best Film' of TFF and the only film that had me weeping by the end. Sally Hawkins as Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis and Ethan Hawke as her illiterate, rough hewn husband are perfectly matched and give beautifully sensitive performances as two people dealt very bad hands in life, but who together build a life of love and caring.
'Neruda': An atmospheric film noir from Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, 'Neruda' is history and biography packaged in a film worthy of John Houston at his best. Gael Garcia Bernal is wonderful; but Luis Gnecco is perfect as South America's most esteemed poet, Pablo Neruda.
'Graduation': Full disclosure: I did not personally see this film. But I am calling it a 'Must See' because I heard from so many people in and around Telluride that it was an excellent film. If this were Rotten Tomatoes, I would say that the 'reviewers' at TFF gave the film about an 80 -- and that is 'fresh'!
IF PERSONALLY INTERESTED
'LaLa Land': Let's face it: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are two very attractive young people; and they do have a certain chemistry. And an effort to reinvent the movie musical for today is laudable in and of itself. MANY people at TFF were in love with 'LaLa Land', but I just couldn't get engaged. If you like musicals, if you like rom coms, or if you like Stone and Gosling -- GO! And then let me know what you think.
"Arrival': Communication is difficult. And communication with aliens is VERY difficult. As a linguist with 'issues', Amy Adams cracks the code and saves the world. Ho hum. This is a long, convoluted and somewhat tedious film. But the themes are appropriate to today's world; and it is a pretty good science fiction movie that does not have one explosion (well, there is one -- but it's a small one). If you loved 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' or 'Contact', you will probably want to give this a try.
'Things To Come': I was pretty harsh on this film in my postings from TFF, and my friends at the Hop probably won't appreciate my evaluation. But I owe you my honest opinion, and I just did not find much of anything to recommend this slow, boring, pretentious French film. Isabelle Huppert is fine, but this is not her best. I'll readily accept that this may be a 'me' thing, but I simply cannot recommend it.
OK, there you go! Get on line and get your tickets for Telluride at Dartmouth -- there are some excellent films that will go fast. And once you have seen them, feel free to agree or disagree with me.