The 41st Telluride Film Festival – Summary of Day 2
The 41st Telluride Film Festival – Summary of Day 2 (8/30/14)
- Foxcatcher is an Oscar worthy film by Bennett Miller (Copote – 2005, Moneyball – 2011) based on the true story about how John du Pont (Steve Carell), heir to one of America’s biggest family fortunes, becomes involved in the 1990s with the USA Wrestling Olympic team. He longed to be a coach/mentor and first hooks up with Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and then his brother David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo).
This film focuses initially on the relationship between du Pont and Mark and then shifts to the tragic triangle with David. Steve Carell gives what could be the Best Actor performance of the year as the repressed/sad/creepy du Pont who’s never had a friend that wasn’t paid for. Carell is so immersed into the du Pont character that you can actually forget that he is one of the funniest actors around.
Channing Tatum gives a heartbreaking portrayal of the fragile Mark. Mark Ruffalo is the strong caring older brother David. All for the actors fully inhabit their rolls. Tatum and Ruffalo don’t just bulk up for their roles but they know the moves (Ruffalo was once a wrestler) and how to walk. I predict that there will be multiple actor Oscar nominations.
Sometimes, the people who seem the strongest or the most powerful are actually the most fragile.
This viewing was followed up with a Q & A session with Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Bennett Miller.
- Seymour: An Introduction is a documentary by Ethan Hawke about a reclusive New York concert Pianist-turned-piano-teacher. Though it is certainly about how music infuses Seymour Bernstein’s world. It is equally about philosophy and how anyone can live a more complete life. “The essence of who we are resides in our talent… whatever that talent is”.
The film was followed by a Q & A session with Mr. Bernstein and director Hawke.
A Tribute to Hillary Swank and a viewing of The Homesman
The tribute showed clips of several of Ms Swank’s films (Boys Don’t Cry, 11:14, Million Dollar Baby). She was present for a Q & A session where she shared stories about her long road to be taken seriously as a film actor (”you are just too half-hour”). Swank has never gone to school to study acting but is known for incredible preparation for a role. She spent a month living as a boy before auditioning for the role of Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry. For Million Dollar Baby she worked out in the famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, gaining 20 pounds in the process.
She was asked what it was like to work with Clint Eastwood. She told a story about how light a touch Eastwood has as a director. While she was getting ready for a scene in Million Dollar Baby, Morgan Freeman started to sing. He apparently has a very good singing voice and she just sat there enraptured. After a while Freeman slips from singing into his lines for the scene. Hillary is still just staring and listening when eventually Eastwood calls for “cut” and “let’s do the next set up”. They had done the scene and Hillary didn’t even know that the camera was running.
The Homesman is based on the award winning Glendon Swarthout novel. We have heard stories of how difficult it was on women in frontier communities. The harsh weather, wild animals and disease was said to driven many mad. In this film a community in the 1850s has three such women and they need a Homesman to return them back east to be cared for. Because no man is willing or up to the task, Swank’s Mary Bee Cuddy takes on the thankless task. She obtains help from Jones’ very reluctant and irascible George Briggs.
This is another Oscar worthy film, directed by Tommy Lee Jones. His direction, his acting as well as the strong yet vulnerable performance by Hillary Swank all but ensures multiple nominations. The film includes a dream supporting cast that includes John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer, James Spader, William Fichtner, Hailee Steinfeld and Meryl Streep.
Additional interesting people seen/met:
- Laura Dern
- Reese Witherspoon
- Gael Garcia Bernal
- Leonard Maltin – Heather noticed him walking down the street and ran after him to thank him for all of his work on Entertainment Tonight and elsewhere. He is my favorite critic because even though he has to be critical he is never mean or harsh. My legs were rubbery when I went up to greet him and he could not have been nicer. Being able to see and meet people like Mr. Maltin is one of the reasons we love Telluride so much. I also can’t believe I was bold enough to give him my The Retired Movie Critic business card.