It’s a bit of a scorcher in Telluride this year. Relatively speaking, of course. I’ve got all these long pants in the suitcase but can’t seem to shake the shorts as of late.
Anyway, tonight brings “Never Let Me Go” and “The Way Back.” I’ll likely hit up the former and catch the latter sometime later in the weekend. Errol Morris’s “Tabloid” also screens late tonight, and I can’t wait to catch that one. I’m debating “Tamara Drewe” this early evening. Guy’s Cannes review doesn’t instill confidence, but I’ve heard from others that it’s quite entertaining. What to do?
By the way, there are a bunch of rumors concerning Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” suddenly popping up at Telluride because Brad Pitt is in town. Same as the rumor that “The Descendants” would show up because Alexander Payne is here. Sometimes, people just want to go see movies in a laid-back environment — even celebrities. That’s all I’m saying.
Anyway, on to the first set of capsule thoughts…
“Inside Job” (***1/2)
Charles Ferguson’s “Inside Job” — a look at America’s financial meltdown and Wall Street’s lack of accountability — is, as I’ve called it, a stiff bitch-slap of a movie. An investigative piece of work every bit as dense as his last documentary, “No End in Sight,” the film keeps its eye on the ball and never dips into sensationalism.
With the brave subjects at apparent fault who somehow thought it was a good idea to go before Ferguson’s lens, the filmmaker takes on the role of interrogator, holding fast as they squirm and never allowing retreat (to the point that one subject, clearly flustered, asks that the camera be turned off for a moment). The thickness of the material and the dizzying nature of the underhanded tactics held up for examination pretty much becomes the point as the film moves on.
Of course, this kind of thing doesn’t lend itself to the cinematic, but Ferguson isn’t trying to put on a show here, nor should he be. The information is the show, and at the end of the day, you get out of this one what you bring to it.
“Chico & Rita” (***)
Fernando Trueba’s “Chico & Rita” is a tender love story stretching from the hot nights of 1940s Havana to the jazz and bebop revolution of New York to the glitz and glamor of the Las Vegas strip. A salute and an ode to Cuban music, the film is six years in the making and certainly oozes passion.
But perhaps it’s the animation that really makes the film stand out, since the somewhat straight-forward story of love lost and found and lost and found could come off a bit sluggish without the visuals. Co-director Javier Mariscal’s animation truly livens up the piece and draws out real emotion from an already moving tale. There is one section that plays as a nice tip of the hat to cinema history that cinephiles will surely enjoy.
The film seems to be right in the wheelhouse of, say, Sony Pictures Classics. If the studio didn’t already have “The Illusionist” to push this season (another film I’ll be catching here at the fest(, I would suggest a pick-up. But there is plenty to chew on awards-wise (including loads of original music composed by Bebo Valdés). The film doesn’t appear to be on many festival radars, so it’s ripe for the picking, the kind of thing that could be nurtured throughout the 2011 festival circuit for a push next season. (Trueba’s “Belle epoque,” by the way, won the Oscar for foreign language film in 1993.)
That’s it for now. More tonight.